Overcoming the “Under-Qualified” Stigma

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It’s happened to everyone: you come across a job description for a position that’s right up your alley. The job is interesting and looks like something that you are completely capable of and excited to do. And then your eyes wander to the “Qualifications” section… You don’t have a Masters degree, 5+ years of experience, or a Series 7 license. So what do you do? Scrap it and move on? If you’re lacking many of the key qualifications that appear mandatory, then indeed you’re probably better off allocating your time and effort applying elsewhere. But if you’re only a few qualifications away from that ideal candidate description, you might be selling yourself short if you give up before even trying. Read on for a list of tips on overcoming the “under-qualified candidate” stigma.

Emphasize Your Skills

Ok, so maybe you don’t hit every bullet point with your qualifications. But don’t give up hope just yet. For many positions, the “Qualifications” section is merely a list of attributes of the ideal candidate. This doesn’t mean that they’re unwilling to consider someone who meets only some of the requirements. So instead of dwelling on what you haven’t done, focus on what you’re great at. Many skills that you acquire throughout school, volunteer work, or another job are transferable to other positions, and can be used to replace any prerequisites that you might not meet. Highlight these skills or experiences in your cover letter, and explain how they will help you excel in that specific job. One important caveat: don’t waste your time applying for jobs that you’re completely unqualified for – for example, if you’re looking at a position for an Associate Attorney at a top law firm, you better have a law degree.

Go the Extra Mile

If you come up short on knowledge or experience, emphasize to an employer that you are willing to work harder than any other candidate to brush up on your skills and become well versed in the subject matter. Don’t underestimate the value that hiring managers place on a strong work ethic. Include in your resume and cover letter examples of your ability to learn quickly. If you possess many of the other qualities of the ideal candidate, you may find that your enthusiasm to learn and contribute may very well land you the position.

Network

Networking is a great way to gain introductions into a company. Networking can also help you establish someone on the inside as an individual who can vouch for you. When you come across that tricky job description, mention to your contact that you’re planning on applying, and explain why. Be honest, and address any points that might weaken your application. Companies want to hire individuals they can trust. If someone with a good history at the company is able to put in a good word for you, it will further bolster that company’s confidence in bringing you on.

Volunteer or Intern

If you find that no matter how you try to spin it, you just can’t land the position you want based on your qualifications, offer to volunteer your services for free. This isn’t to say that you should ever allow a company or an individual to take advantage of you. But if you volunteer or intern for a company, you’ll gain valuable experience that you can parlay into a future opportunity at the company. Get in, work hard, and show them that they need you. Even if doing so doesn’t lead to another prospect within that company, you’ll gain important knowledge and skills that will qualify you for a position similar to the job you had hoped for at the outset.

It’s easy to look at a job description, think, “There’s someone out there who’s better,” and quickly abandon the effort. But have a little faith in yourself – play to your strengths and commit to working even harder than the next guy, and you may find yourself more qualified than you think. So take a chance – you’ve got nothing to lose – and you may find yourself one step closer to your dream job!

All the best,
The Doostang Team

Win More Interviews: Show Your Value to Employers!

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

Intern, New York, NY
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Creating value for employers even before you land the job is a way to set yourself apart from the competition. The value for you is that such a distinctive approach is likely to accelerate your successful hire! An effective strategy for showing your value is to develop a plan that identifies and solves problems for the company, using tact in case the person who created the gaffe is also the hiring manager!

Research the Company

To accelerate your job search using this approach, you must target a specific company of interest. If you attempt to concentrate on a number of companies simultaneously, your efforts will be diluted and less likely to produce the results you desire. Focus your research on challenges the company is currently facing or on the analysis of products and publications. Match the area of analysis with your strengths and skill set so that you can highlight your value for the company.

Identify Gaps or Gaffes for the Company

Your research will create the framework for your plan by identifying gaps or gaffes in the company’s current operations. Gaffes are more likely to be found in branding or publications. If you are a proofreader or marketing specialist, you can distinguish yourself by identifying confusing marketing messages or typos in corporate publications. Gaps can be identified across a number of areas, including inefficient operations, slow sales, or ways that money is being left on the table.

Create an Effective Plan

Here is where your talents shine!  Create a stellar step-by-step plan for improvement using your strong skill set and unique perspective. Explain your rationale and implementation so the employer gets a clear sense of how you created the plan from start to finish. Your initiative is only one of the strengths on display in your plan.

Examples of plans you might offer include:

  • a marketing plan to expand into an entirely new market with an existing product line
  • strategies to increase productivity
  • creating an employee communication curriculum
  • cost-cutting manufacturing processes

Present Your Plan

Gaining access to the right people can be the challenge in this part of your job search. Return to your earlier research and pull out the names of specific department managers or project leaders. Ideally, you will be able to present your plan to the person with authority to implement the changes. Once you have the right names, package your resume and your plan with a brief cover letter and send it off. If using e-mail to present your plan, be certain to create an intriguing subject line to increase the likelihood that your email will be opened. Take the key aspects of your plan and incorporate these into a concise and eye-catching subject line.

Examples of effective subject lines might include:

  • Penetrate New Markets with Existing Product Lines
  • New Strategies to Accelerate Staff Productivity
  • Better Customer Service with Improved Staff Communication
  • Smart Strategies to Reduce Manufacturing Costs

Another important consideration in e-mail communication is whether attachments will be opened. Some recipients may be concerned about attachments containing viruses or company spam filters may block your email. Include previews of salient points in the body of the email to generate interest and spur the manager to open your attachments.

Follow Up

Your contact information will be included in your resume and e-mail signature, but continue your proactive approach by following up. Try following up with a phone call so you can have a real-time conversation with the decision maker. In attempting to get through, be certain to mention the plan you provided and state your intent to clarify any questions and to tailor the plan to the executive’s needs. If unable to get through, request a time to return the call or schedule a call. Your organizational skills will be noticed.

Creating a plan to address employer’s needs before you are even employed sets you miles apart from the competition! Your emphasis on providing value to the employer and making an investment of your time speaks volumes about the value you can provide on the job. Show employers your value to win more interviews and you will soon be getting paid for your skills and expertise!

About the Author: Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC) is the President of GetInterviews.com, the country’s leading resume writing firm. They provide professionals with customized, branded resumes and career marketing documents. Her and her firm’s credentials include being cited by JIST Publications as one of the “best resume writers in North America,” quoted as a career expert in The Wall Street Journal, and published in a whopping 25+ career books. Established in 1994, the firm has aided more than 100,000 job seekers to date. All resume writers are certified writers. GetInterviews.com offers a free resume critique and their services come with a wonderful guarantee — interviews in 30 days or they’ll rewrite for free!

Doostang Success — Responses within 3 Days of Applying for Jobs

Dheeraj

Georgia Institute of Technology, 2009
Supply Chain and Operations Analyst – DTDC

“I was just coming out of college and found job search to be a challenge.  I was applying to jobs on some other sites, but after spending my precious time I was still just waiting for responses and I was beginning to lose my confidence. I did get very few responses eventually, but they still weren’t from the company HRs.

After learning about Doostang, I started applying through the site. I saw some positive responses, so I got a premium membership. All of a sudden, plenty of opportunities opened up all around me.

I started getting responses directly from the hiring managers within 3 days of applying for jobs, which was very quick for me given the time constraint I was in. I ended up getting 2 offers and was in a position to negotiate my pay package.

The filters and saved-searches were very useful. The newsletters sent by Doostang were also consistently guiding me in my job search, and as a result, I was performing better in the interviews.

Overall, Doostang has been a mentor and helped me get many opportunities.

I strongly recommend Doostang Premium to anyone seeking a new job or a career change – I know they will eventually end up with a great opportunity like I did.”


Did you get a job through Doostang? Share your Doostang success story and get a $500 Signing Bonus from Doostang!

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