Applying for positions you aren’t likely to get & how to make it worth it - Part 2: If you are Under-qualified

The short answer is no.  If the position is being advertised and you don’t meet (or come very close to) the minimum qualifications, don’t waste your time.   Best case is you are ignored by the hiring manager; worst case is you get remembered as someone who applies for everything and seems to have trouble reading.  Just because you think (with reason, perhaps) you ‘can do the job’ isn’t enough to get hired - the organization is likely to get numerous applications from people who can do the job and who actually meet the requirements and who have done very similar work in the past, with success and references.  Suppose you were the one deciding who to interview for the position - would you pick you?

Suppose, however, that you are differently qualified?  If you can objectively look at your experience and qualifications and objectively look at the position being filled and truly make a believable case that your qualifications don’t just mean you can do the job but can excel at it and, ideally, bring more to the organization than someone who just meets the requirements, it may be worth a shot to apply, with two caveats:

1)     The requirement(s) you fall short on can’t be the key part of the job.  If the job is to be a brain surgeon and you don’t have a medical degree…well, you get the idea.

2)     Be very clear about your reasoning in your cover letter.  Don’t insult the reader by telling him/her that the requirements they are looking for are largely unrelated to the job (even if they are - these were probably determined by a committee after all), but positively explain why the qualifications you do have make you particularly well qualified for the position.

Should you address the fact you don’t meet a particular requirement?  I think it depends on how important the requirement seems to be.  It’s a judgment call, but I would say if they are asking for a specific credential like being a CPA and you have lots of accounting experience but aren’t a CPA, I would address your lack of this qualification in the cover letter; if they are asking for a ‘masters degree in a related field’ and you don’t have it (but do have significant experience), I wouldn’t point out your lack of degree in the letter.

There’s no sense pointing out a lack on your part that the organization doesn’t seem overly concerned about, but it also doesn’t make sense to just ignore a shortcoming if it is a qualification the organization clearly cares about.

Next post:  Can you actually be overqualified?

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Targeting your resume - can there be too much of a good thing?
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