Being out of work can be a terrifying experience.
Savings (if you had any!) dwindling, bills accumulating, skills and talents languishing unused and time stretching out before you like a vast empty highway.
You search for jobs daily, scanning the different job sites, working your network, taking back roads and alternate routes into the companies you want to work with. But the more you look, the more hopeless it seems.
• Decades of Experience.
• Advanced Degree.
• Available Monday-Sunday 7 a.m.-10 p.m.
• 12 Obscure Skills.
• Six Seemingly Unrelated Skills.
• Eager for Unpaid Overtime.
• Willing to Accept Paltry Wages.
• Loves Teamwork and Working Independently and Managing Groups and Handling Outsourcers.
Does this look familiar?
Probably, because the more people who are looking for work—the more people who are going to be competing for the job you need
. Lots of applicants mean that it’s a buyer’s market in terms of employees.
So, the qualifications get loftier and loftier as the weeks and months go by, until, judging by the job descriptions you find on Craigslist and Workopolis, you’re barely qualified to make coffee at your local Starbucks. And that’s with a B.A.!
It’s an intimidating time to be looking for work—no two ways about it.
But would you like to hear a secret?
Those laundry lists of skills and qualities that employers claim are absolutely 100 percent critical to doing the job they advertiser?
They’re wishes. Dreams. An exhaustive list of what they never, in their wildest dreams, expect to actually find in one single applicant.
In a flooded market, they’re just weeding people out by making it look as if getting the job would be too difficult to get.
You don’t have to fall for that. If you think there’s a good fit, if you think you can do the job regardless of the qualifications, then go for it.
The single biggest detriment to finding a job isn’t the economy, isn’t the man, isn’t your lack of experience, it isn’t even the competition.
It’s the following words: “They won’t take me.”
Because if you think so, they’re sure as hell going to agree with you. Worse, they’ll never get the chance to agree with you, because you didn’t try.
So how do you go about applying for a job you’re not “technically” qualified for? Let’s break it down:
The secret to landing any job—any job at all—is to identify the problem that the employer has. They’re looking for an employee for a reason: they have a need that is unfulfilled. If you can figure out what that need is, and communicate to them that you can solve the problem, then it won’t matter how many of the “necessary qualifications” you’re missing.
Take a step back from your situation, and consider the organization that is hiring. Why do they need this role filled? Are they short of staff? Are they able to produce their product or service? Are they losing money? Are the other employees stressed and overworked? Does anyone else in the organization have the skills or knowledge to do this job? When you can answer this question, you can present yourself in a manner that will be practically irresistible.
You are not a supplicant when you apply to a job that seems to demand more than you have to offer. You are providing the answer to a problem, and that has huge value. Focus on your value.
When you tailor your resume for the position, highlight skills that demonstrate your ability to do the job and, this is important, your teachability.
That might look something like this:
• Quickly learned and adapted to new operating procedures. Or:
• Responded to changing workplace conditions and standards with speed and effectiveness. Or:
• Worked independently to enhance skills critical to the performance of necessary work.
Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
Remember that skills can be trained. Talent, motivation and ingenuity can’t be. So give them what they want! A motivated, talented person, not afraid to reach for what they want, and who’s ready to step into the company and make things better.
Megan Dougherty is a writer and blogger working out of Montreal, Canada. Her new blog, Paying for Life is all about helping the young (and young at heart) and underemployed make the most out of their lives now – whether or not they can afford it. She believes that following your passion should not result in financial desperation, and there is a way to work around or towards pretty much anything you can set your mind on.
Ed: Sara Crolick
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