What to Do When You’re One Qualification Away From Your Dream Job

What to Do When You’re One Qualification Away From Your Dream Job

Zeynep Ilgaz

Jobs, like people, can possess a certain je ne sais quoi — an intangible but very real quality that sets them apart from others. For many people, that something can be the difference between a dream job and… well, just a job.

The right role will challenge you, give you opportunities to grow, allow you to make a good living and help you achieve balance in life. Unfortunately, there might be something standing between you and your dream job, whether that’s three to five years of experience or just a basic knowledge of Photoshop.

Although some job qualifications are non-negotiable, most employers are willing to let one or two slide for the right person. When I evaluate job candidates, I’m looking for people who are passionate team players, a good culture fit and willing to learn. In fact, I’ve hired salespeople without a smidgen of sales experience because those skills are teachable.

If you’ve found your dream job, don’t let one bullet point in the job requirements stop you from going for it. If you can land an interview and impress the hiring manager, you might be able to get the job, whether you’re 100 percent qualified or not. Here’s how:

1. Do Your Homework

Before you go into the interview, do some research on the company and its leaders. Study the business’s products and sales channels, read press releases and learn as much as you can about the industry. Knowledge is power because it shows the hiring manager that you’re a self-starter who’s eager to learn.

2. Dress Like the Job Is Yours

Even if you don’t meet every single qualification, it’s important to carry yourself with confidence and show the hiring manager that you’re comfortable in your own skin.

The old saying is true: “Dress for the job you want, not the one you have.” Wearing nice clothes and looking polished will make you seem confident — even if you aren’t — and make the hiring manager take you seriously.

3. Show How You Would Excel

In addition to a killer cover letter highlighting the value you’d bring to the position, write a memo that outlines the major challenges of the role and how you’d tackle them. You can also create a slide deck with ideas on ways you could help grow the business. This shows a hiring manager exactly why and how you’d excel in the position.

4. Be Confident, Passionate and Honest

Try to strike a balance between being confident in your strengths and emphasizing that you’re eager to learn to make up for any shortcomings.

If you truly don’t have experience in something, own up to it. Highlight comparable areas where you do have expertise, and reiterate that you’re thrilled to have the opportunity to learn more about the industry you’re passionate about.

5. Ask Smart Questions

Your interview isn’t an interrogation, so feel free to ask questions. Instead of leading with, “How much does this job pay?” or “How’s the 401(k) plan?” ask questions that show you understand the role and the company’s needs. Listen to the hiring manager’s comments, and ask relevant follow-up questions. She will appreciate your initiative and curiosity.

It can be daunting to apply for your dream job if you’re missing one or two qualifications, but by demonstrating confidence in your strengths and showing how you’d excel in the role, you can often get further than you think. You just have make a strong case for yourself and show the hiring manager that you have that unbridled passion she’s looking for.

Originally from Turkey, Zeynep Ilgaz and her husband co-founded Confirm Biosciences and TestCountry, where Ilgaz serves as president. Confirm Biosciences is committed to being on the cutting edge of offering new, service-oriented drug-testing technologies and was recognized as one of San Diego’s Best Places to Work in both 2013 and 2014.

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