Job hunting is arduous. Finding the right job, let alone any job, often seems impossible. It’s commonplace to here of job hunters spending a year or more looking for a job. So why then do we pass up on opportunities that we’d have a shot at? Why do we sell ourselves short and not to make an attempt?
There are a few elements, but deep down, you know each one very intimately. It’s simply a matter of admitting them to yourself. Let’s take a close look at the obstacles we place in front of ourselves during the job hunt.
What Really Stops You From Applying
Let’s face it, everyone has some lazy in their bones. It’s human nature. There will come a day where applications can fill themselves out, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up for such a thing in this lifetime.
Job applications seem like a breeze at first glance, but three sections later and two essays in, you realize you’ve only scratched the surface. Perfunctory thoughts set in, and answers get rushed. Before you know it you’ve reach the end, but taken every shortcut possible. With your enthusiasm diminished and attitude sour, you hit submit, regrettably. Without pride or a sense of satisfaction, you shut down the computer and mumble, “good riddens.”
This can’t happen when you’re on the hunt for your next big gig. When the quality of your application suffers, so does the likelihood of succeeding. Consider the person behind you, stoked and eager to take on the job. Would knowing he or she is behind you help you focus? It should. Competition these days is fierce, and anything less than your best won’t hold up on its own, nor should it. Apply with your best foot forward.
Fear is everyone’s Kryptonite. Whether you know it or not, fear drives your every move.
- “Speak at my former high school… no, no way, I’m terrible at giving speeches. Someone else will do it.”
- “Apply to law school? Nope, can’t. It’s so cut throat, and I don’t fit the Type A mold. I’d get laughed at just walking in.”
- “Stand up to the bully in my group who thinks he’s the greatest human specimen. Nah, I’d like to, but he’s so witty, he’d probably beat me in the argument and embarrass me some more.”
Fear is a mind killer. It stops you from doing just about everything you’ve ever wanted to do. There’s a reason why Casey Gerald, when asked what he would ask the President of the United States, answered, “I’d ask him the same thing I ask everybody else… what would you say if you weren’t afraid?”
Asking someone for their true fears speaks to the heart of what they want most. Think back to all your self-disappointments in life. Why did you or did you not take action? Fear. The same is true for why you aren’t holding the job you want most. Rejection, shame, embarrassment, inadequacy–they keep you from its pursuit. Identify your fears and dismiss them.
Ignorance meaning the lack of knowledge that you have the ability to achieve your goals.
When no one has told you that it’s okay to pursue a certain job or career, you may just walk around thinking you never had a shot. It’s sad, but we all need some encouragement. Folks who have been told over and over how capable they are tend to have a high amount of self-efficacy. They think they can before they know they can. If you’re deficient in that area, then actively pursue it.
Having someone in our corner goes a long way in completing life pursuits. You want to be a doctor? Go find a doctor. Let them tell you what it takes, not someone else. Search actively for the knowledge and information you need to take you past your limits. The droll of everyday life has a way of keeping you right where you are, i.e. not moving.
Why You Should Apply to Jobs You’re Not Qualified For
1. You’ll Learn Something From It
Often forgotten, but the best way to learn something is to do it. You’ll cover much more ground with your actions, than hearing or reading about it. There’s no substitute for action. Nuances will only show themselves when you’re deep in their territory.
For instance, if you’re asked to supply your GPA, do you supply it even if it’s terrible? How do you answer the infamous “what’s your expected salary?” question? Do you really need to submit a cover letter if it doesn’t say it’s required? The questions can keep going. However, whatever you stumble across, you’ll be glad you did, as it will come up again and again down the road.
2. Perfect Opportunities Don’t Come Often
There are two types of job qualifications, Minimum and Preferred. Oftentimes, you won’t have ANY of the preferred qualifications. You might even be missing a minimum qualification or two. Whatever the combination, don’t bar yourself from the listing until you’ve done a sanity check. If the description asks for a minimum of 1+ year of experience, and you have 2-3 months from an internship, don’t count your self out–apply!
If that’s not encouraging enough, consider that the person next to you will be applying, and that he or she might take your spot. Companies regularly overlook requirements to make way for candidates they’re interested in. I’ve seen a large Fortune 500 company rewrite their job listing so that it fit a candidate. Trust that anything is possible.
3. You Miss 100% of the Shots You Don’t Take
It’s a cliche for a reason–you’re guaranteed to fail if you don’t try. So while you may doubt yourself and think you’re going to miss, by shooting you’ve at least got a chance at succeeding. Apply to that job you want, even if your chances are slim. Just think of how proud you’ll be when you sink it–remember all you need is one.
4. There Is Nothing to Gain from the Job You’re Completely Qualified For
Lastly, if you fulfill every qualification in a listing, you won’t be learning anything after you land it. After just a month, boredom will set in and you’ll want to pull your hair out.
While the idea of matching up skill sets one for one sounds ideal, it won’t be beneficial in the long run. An unchallenging work place is a death sentence in the working world. You want to hit the ground running AND still have a mountain to climb.
When You Should NOT Apply
While I encourage you to err on the side of applying before not applying, there are a few hard exceptions to that rule.
I. Clearly Overqualified
Take for instance the extreme case: a Ph.D. graduate applying to an entry level Bachelor’s degree position–overqualified. Do not apply in the case of extreme over qualification because it sends the signals that,
- You’re clueless. “You’ve been in school so long you don’t quite know how the world works and unsure of your abilities. You might be personable, but you’re ultimately aloof.” No consideration.
- You’re desperate. “Life has roughed you up, and the job market is bleak. The only way to get a job is to be sure you’ve met every qualification.” Wrong. This looks desperate. While they could take you on, as soon as something better comes along, they know you’re leaving. Businesses can’t operate on altruism. Based on that simple fact, you won’t be considered.
II. Clearly Under-qualified
Applying to a position when under-qualified is a sore mistake. It affects everyone involved in your application, including you. Having personally been thanked by recruiters for applying to the position with proper credentials, I can speak with confidence when I say that recruiters don’t like seeing under-qualified applicants in their pool. If your skills are not commensurate with the responsibilities of the job, then you’re going to tarnish your reputation, get rejected, and potentially blacklisted. A few points as to why:
- It’s time robbery. Time is a precious commodity in the corporate world, and having to waste it looking over an application or resume clearly not suitable for the job, is irritating. Getting all of your work done in 40 hours is, sometimes, no easy task.
- You look naive. A pass or two is generally given to the fledgling job applicants who don’t have much experience, but it doesn’t carry you far. If you don’t understand why the job is beyond you, then there’s no way you’ll be effective doing it.
- It tarnishes your reputation. Repeated under-qualified applicants are identified and generally blacklisted, even from other departments within the company. Yes, HR reps talk and remember.
The job market is tough enough, don’t make it worse by limiting your choices. Apply to the jobs you’re qualified for, don’t apply to the one’s you’re clearly not. Be strategic. The job I applied for (and eventually received) was one that I very nearly passed up, thinking it was beyond me. I thought it was slightly out of my reach, but ultimately told myself, “What do I have to lose?” There was enough overlap to keep me in the running, and they gave me the interview. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I gave up before I started.
If you’re mostly, somewhat, or even partially qualified for a job (regardless of a low GPA), do yourself a favor and apply. There’s much more to gain than to lose. So keep at it, and don’t give up. Please, share your stories below! I’d love to hear where people have come from.