7 Ways To Get The Job Without Being The Most Qualified

Have you finally found the listing for your dream job, but you’re not sure you’re the most qualified? You can still get the job. If you nail the application and interview process, you’ll set yourself apart from the pack. Remember that your qualifications will get you in the door, but it’s your personality, communication skills and problem-solving capabilities that will seal the deal.

Have a tailored resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile

Recruiters and hiring managers are often flooded with applications for a job opening. You need to make sure that your application materials stand out.

As time-consuming as it is, you should customize your resume for the specific job listing. Many recruiters will scan for common keywords in your application materials. If your resume is missing those keywords, you risk getting overlooked.

You should also write a cover letter. Do not include a generic cover letter or a letter obviously written for a different position (I’ve seen it). Instead write a thoughtful one-page cover letter that clearly ties your experience to the position. It should highlight the unique qualities you feel you can bring to the table.

Make sure your LinkedIn is up-to-date and active. Many employers will look up potential employees’ LinkedIn profiles, so make sure yours has impact. List your experience and include a profile and cover photo. If you are actively sharing and commenting on relevant posts, that’s even better.

Control your phone interview environment

The first stage in many interview processes is a phone interview. Control the phone interview environment as much as you can.

Remember that cell phones often cut out. Can you join via your computer on a plugged-in Internet connection? If not, find a quiet spot with good reception to take the call. (Honestly, your car can be a good location in a pinch). The key is to be able to focus fully on the discussion. Even though you’re on the phone, pretend the interviewer can see you. Sit up straight, wear professional attire and make facial expressions. This will improve your delivery.

Do your research

Companies are evaluating interviewees for their cultural fit as much as for their skills. There’s a minimum set of qualifications, but after that employers care about how well you’ll fit into the team.

To prepare, research the company you’re interviewing with. Learn its culture. Talk to a current or former employee if possible. All of the following information will help you determine how to prepare for your interview:

  • What’s the company dress code?

  • What is the work environment like? Is it highly collaborative or more individually-focused?

  • Is the company facing any specific challenges right now? Can you help them address those challenges?

Ask as many questions as you can in an informal setting prior to a formal interview. This will help you plan your interview and make a list of solid questions for your interviewers.

Be enthusiastic & thoughtful about the role and company

Sometimes interviewers act like the company would be lucky to have them. While that may be true, it doesn’t pay to act like it in an interview.

Many companies don’t want to bring in people they perceive as not being a team player. You need to perfect the ability to convey confidence without coming off as self-centered. Be prepared to give examples of how you’ve worked with teams in the past.

You can differentiate yourself by being enthusiastic about the company. Interviewees who have clearly thought about how they might fit in - and are enthusiastic about the opportunity - are significantly more memorable.

Speak to the hiring manager’s pain points

When a job is posted, the manager often has a pain point that needs to be solved. Read between the lines of the job description to figure out what that pain point is. Hiring managers often put together a list of qualifications that may have little to do with a person’s ability to solve the problem.

Instead of appealing to skills and qualifications, make an emotional appeal to the company’s pain points. Thinking about paint points and speaking to them can help you wow your interviewers. It shows that you’ll be ready to jump right in and start making an impact.

Network your heart out

A survey found that as many as 85% of jobs are filled by networking. That means that your contacts are crucial in helping you land a job.

If you are searching for a new role, start networking with former colleagues, classmates and friends. Because these people already know you, they’ll have an understanding of what sort of job you’d be a good fit for - even if you don’t match the qualifications exactly.

If you have an advocate within the company, your case will be that much stronger. Being referred by a current employee often allows you to bypass the recruiting resume queue and land straight on the hiring manager’s desk. This vastly increases your odds of being interviewed.

Just remember to network in an authentic way. Ask about their role. See if there’s any problem you can help them with. Don’t make it all about you and your job search. When you do land that new position, continue to touch base with your contacts from time to time.

Discuss your experience using positive words

Don’t go into an application or interview apologizing. You won’t make a strong positive impression if you come in with a message like, “I know my qualifications don’t exactly match this job, but….”. That will not convince anyone.

Instead, lead with the positive. Mention the experience you do have and why you think it would be helpful in the role you’re applying to. Be positive and confident. If you’re going to convince someone else to hire you when you’re not the most qualified, you first need to believe it yourself.

Don’t let the qualifications stop you

If you approach the interview process with a positive outlook, clearly understand the role and do your homework, you can get the job without being the most qualified. Position yourself to solve the company’s problem and you’ll have a great chance of landing your dream role.

  • Jürgen Schulze
    Jürgen Schulze
    Solid advice. Good stuff!
    March 21, 2019
  • Abby LeBlanc
    Abby LeBlanc
    I like the idea of investigating the company culture beforehand. It's one thing to know what they do but another to know how they do it.
    May 2, 2019
  • Rick Amundson
    Rick Amundson
    I can attest that fit is definitely more important than actual qualifications.
    May 2, 2019