Job searching can be invigorating, like when you get to imagine yourself sitting behind a new desk or out meeting new clients. But it can also be disappointing if you find exciting roles that you’re not fully qualified for.

Don’t get discouraged when you don’t meet 100% of the criteria in a job listing. Whether you want to move up a level in your career or you’re looking to transition into a completely new job field, you won’t get an offer if you don’t apply. Instead of passing up interesting opportunities, you might just need to think outside the box, do some smart preparation, and get a better understanding of where your skills and the employer’s needs intersect.

Do your research

There’s no rule against applying for a job you’re not qualified for. But if you have absolutely no skills or experience that can be applied to the role, you’re obviously going to be in for a tougher time.

So the first place to begin is by looking at what you know, and doing some comparing and contrasting.

Examine the job spec: what specifics can you glean about what the company’s looking for? Next, look at where your skills meet what’s being sought.

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From here, see where there seems to be wiggle room: do they ask for seven years experience, but you have four? Are they looking for managerial experience, but you have none — even though you’ve been taking on a lot more responsibility in the office? You might be closer to the “must-haves” than you realise.

Look at your skills and experience

Going through the job ad to parse what’s likely immovable, what applies to you, and what you can work with is a great first step.

From there, you can examine your CV and how you describe your work experience. Can you outline your experience and skills in a way that makes the employer see how you would suit the role?

You can’t put things on your CV that aren’t true. But you can explain how your existing skills and knowledge can be applied to other areas, outline your qualifications and match what you can do to what the employer needs.

It’s all about focusing on what you can do, and where your experience and knowledge lie — not what elements of the job spec you don’t measure up to. Pretend you’re a friend giving yourself advice, and take a look at your CV through their eyes. What would their advice be?

Create a stellar cover letter

Your cover letter is the first chance to outline why you’d be a good fit. In it, you can explain the ways you would add to the role, how your previous experience helps, and what you’d look forward to doing if you got the job.

When the employer goes on to read your CV, your letter will have given them the knowledge that you know what you’re applying for. They’ll recognise that even if you aren’t 100% qualified, you understand how you could grow into the job.

With the current skills shortages, particularly in STEM, employers are also likely to be more open-minded about employing people who are willing and eager to grow their skills.

Hidden barriers

Keep in mind that there might be barriers to applying for the job that you don’t recognise. A study by LinkedIn found that women are 16% less likely than men to apply for a job after viewing it.

Tara Mohr surveyed 1,000 men and women in the US about this issue and what their attitudes can tell us are revealing.

“They didn’t see the hiring process as one where advocacy, relationships, or a creative approach to framing one’s expertise could overcome not having the skills and experiences outlined in the job qualifications.”

It’s this that can be key: recognising that employers don’t just want a “perfect” fit. They also want someone who’ll blossom in the role.

If you do apply for a job and don’t meet the full qualifications, you won’t be alone. In research from 2019, HR managers said 42% of the resumes they receive are from candidates who don’t meet job requirements — and 62% of employees have been offered a job when they didn’t match the exact qualifications.

So what are you waiting for?

Looking for a new role? Here are three companies hiring on the House of Talent Job Board.

Senior Product Manager – Partner Tech, Zalando, Berlin

Retail company Zalando is looking for a Senior Product Manager to work in its Partner Tech department. This is one of its core departments, and the role would involve being part of a team working on partner-facing and internal-facing products. The company says that all employment is decided on the basis of qualifications, merit, and business need. Find out more here.

Senior Fullstack Developer, Shift Technology, Paris

Shift Technology harnesses the power of AI to enable the world’s leading insurance organisations to make better decisions. For this Senior Fullstack Developer role, which could be based in France, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, or England, your technical knowledge and autonomy will let you build complete designs for our applications and features. The product you will collaborate on is a platform that helps policyholders to open claims and insurers to take decisions on them. Get the full information here.

Java/Full Stack Developer, Accenture, Basel

Accenture is looking for a Java/Full Stack Developer who can act “like a Swiss Army knife for digital challenges.” You’ll design and implement backends built for speed, reliability, and scalability, and should have a university degree in IT or a technically related subject. See the full job spec here.

For thousands more roles like these, check out the House of Talent Job Board

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