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by Kristina Rudic | December 14, 2016


Applying for a job can be nerve-racking, especially if you’re new to the job market, looking to change career paths, or simply want to move up the ladder. It can be even more stressful when looking at all the qualifications that employers “require” at a new job, many times deterring great candidates from even applying.

Instead of just going for jobs you can do, apply for the ones you could do. We’ve got three ways to help you land the role you want rather than one you might just settle for. 

1. Check the Qualifications

When looking at a list of qualifications, the ones you don’t check off always seem to be the ones that stick out. Before moving on to another job listing, look at the qualifications more closely—are you missing the skills or years of experience? If it’s the latter, definitely apply. Companies list years of experience in hopes of attracting candidates who have worked in the industry and have a certain amount of knowledge about the job, but if your background could translate in a congruent manner, then the employer will want to hear from you.

Likewise, if the qualifications you are missing are certain skills, think of the skills you do have developed and consider how they might align with the skills required. If you are unable to do the job without extensive training, applying would not be beneficial to you or the person hiring. However, consider the amount of time it would take you to learn these skills and if this can be done on your own. If so, do not hesitate to apply. During the interview, recognize that you understand how crucial these skills are to doing the job and how you will bridge this gap. Understanding what you need to learn will not only let the interviewer hear you acknowledge the discrepancy in your work experience, but will assure them of your self-awareness and ability to learn new things.

2. Show Off

Whether drafting a cover letter or answering a question in an interview, do not focus on the reasons why you’re an unconventional candidate, but rather zero in on the ways your unique background could benefit the company. Instead of saying, “I know that because of my background I may seem like an unlikely choice…” try saying: “Due to my work experience in (previous job), I could enhance (job you’re interviewing for or entire department) because of (skillset you have or project you worked on).” By identifying how you will improve the department or team, the interviewer gets to see you experience as an asset rather than a hindrance. Point out your accomplishments and skills that would apply to the job.

Whatever the circumstances, make sure that the interviewer knows of the highlights of your career and how well these would translate to the role you are interested in.

3. Remember that a human decides, not a computer

Rather than just being passionate about the job, connecting with the interviewer is a key aspect in getting the role you want. Employers love a candidate that is personable. When it comes down to it, an employer will not hire someone they do not want to work with and it becomes even more important to make a connection during the interview.

To do this, talk about initiatives the company has taken on that you admire or projects that have really succeeded. If applicable, tie in how your interviewer helped with said initiative/project and what you find admirable about their work. No matter who they are, showing someone that you’ve taken the time to look into the company and their own work there will show you do your research and are genuinely interested.


In the end, an employer will want to find someone who knows what they bring to the table and showcases how they will help the company with their past experience. 

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