July 3, 2014

Unqualified for the Job? Sell Yourself in 4 Ways

Smiling young businessman using his digital tablet at the officeLet me paint a picture for you—one that many job seekers find themselves in today. Carol is a 25-year-old employed PR assistant who hates her job. She’s been working for a small firm since college graduation, but recently began applying for new roles.

Carol is a great writer and communicator with ample experience in the PR field. And besides working for the same firm for the past 3 years, she also worked at several PR-related internships while in college.

Because her job search, which she’s been on for the past 6 months, hasn’t produced anything, Carol decides to work with a recruiter, David.

David eagerly calls Carol to explain that he has found the perfect opening for her. And Carol is just as excited at the prospect of finally landing a new role, until she reads the vacancy’s job description.

Although the opening is in the PR field, the role is weighted in social media marketing. And while Carol has her own company Twitter account to occasionally promote the firm’s clients, she is no social media guru.

The majority—say 95 percent—of Carol’s experience is in writing press releases and newsletters, building contact lists and developing relationships with the media. The other 5 percent is her casual promotion on social media.

David explains that the hiring company was very impressed with Carol’s PR experience and wanted to consider her for this role. What is Carol to do?

On the one end she dreads going into the office each day and desperately wants a new job, yet on the other end she knows she’s unqualified for the role and wonders why the recruiter even matched her with it.

She’s also been on the job search for 6 months and understands the difficulties in landing a job in today’s market. Plus, the recruiter knows what he’s doing right? David is an expert; so, if both he and the hiring company see something in Carol and her credentials for this role, that is a surefire sign, right?

A lot of experts tell job seekers to apply for jobs they’re unqualified for, because you never know. So, following this trend, Carol remains silent about her true apprehensions with the role and agrees to move forward with an interview.

If you find yourself in a situation like Carol’s, don’t fear. Below are four simple steps you can take to “sell” yourself for a position you truly lack all of the credentials for.

Research the role

Although duties typically change once you are actually in the role, looking at the job description before an interview is a great way to prepare. And this will be especially helpful when researching for a role you don’t necessarily have all the credentials for.

What does the job description say? What tools and/or software does it say the person should be knowledgeable in? If you aren’t familiar with them, conduct research to understand how to use them.

Pay attention to the language used in the description. What keywords and industry terms are used? Look up those terms to ensure you understand their meaning and can use them during the interview.

Also, look up others who are in similar positions in your industry. Read their resumes and /or bios and see if you can find any examples of their work to gain a better understanding of what the duties of this role actually look like. It’s always helpful to have an example—especially a successful one.

Update your resume to reflect the position

So, only five percent of your resume relates to the position you’re interviewing for; make some changes. Think about everything you do in this area and add that to your resume. Even if you do things that relate to the position outside of work, include them. For example, if you’re being considered for a writing-heavy position but you have more experience managing social media yet you have your own blog or blog for others, include that. Don’t forget any relevant volunteer experiences that demonstrate you do have experience doing this type of task, in and/or outside the business world.

Highlight relevant experience during your interview

During your interview, don’t focus on the 95 percent of your resume. Highlight the five percent that relates to the current role and even explain how all your other experience (the 95%) can also benefit the organization if you’re offered the role. And don’t forget to include the research you’ve conducted to demonstrate that you’re knowledgeable about industry terminology and what it takes to be successful in this role.

Be confident

This final step seems small, but it’s extremely significant. As the saying goes, you have to fake it before you make it. Even if you’re unsure about your background and/or qualifications for the role, be confident. Do your absolute best to sell yourself for the position, highlighting that you’ve already began conducting research about the company, possible team members and industry experts’ advice on what it takes to be successful in this kind of role.

Be honest if you don’t have all the skills listed in the job description, explaining that you’re a quick learner who is always eager for a challenge and has a proven record of excelling on the job. Display that you’re confident in your abilities to do whatever it takes to benefit the company in this position.

Read more in Job Search Advice

Marks’ stories have also been published in a variety of newspaper, magazine and online formats including The Arizona Republic, The Daily Herald, Arizona Foothills Magazine and various classroom magazines of Scholastic Inc. Service is her passion, writing is her platform and uplifting and inspiring the community is her purpose. Marks received a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication from Arizona State University.
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