Do You Apply for Jobs You’re Not Qualified For

Posted by Rob Riggins

You see a job posted online and decide to toss your hat in the ring. Why not? You’re online. It’s easy to apply.

If that’s your attitude you’re wasting your time. And the employer’s time. When you apply for a job, meet all the critical requirements and 90% of all the requirements.

The only way you’re going to get a job if you don’t meet 90% of the requirements is if you know the hiring manager or recruiter. Personally. Otherwise, why would they hire someone who doesn’t meet the job qualifications?


How do you do it?

  • * Copy or print the job announcement or ad
  • * Review line by line to understand the requirements
  • * Highlight stated goals and objectives
  • * Check the employer’s web site for added info and corporate values
  • * Chart their expectations and your actual match to each goal and requirement
  • * State your matches clearly throughout your resume, application and cover letter
This entry was posted on Monday, April 29, 2013 7:00 am

7 thoughts on “Do You Apply for Jobs You’re Not Qualified For”

  1. I like this post.
    After working in the Aerospace industry for 25 years, half of my life, I received a layoff notice in February. Despite having achieved the highest clearance levels, sustained a perfect attendance, maintained a perfect driving record, became six sigma qualified, returned to school and paid for getting my bachelors degree in business, I was let go. I have applied for every position within my company from internal security to project technician, supply chain to parts, anything I believed I had the right qualifications for. The problem is with the outsourcing of our human relations department to include a very inhuman method of screening potential applicants. Online there is no one who sees you face, hears your voice, or understands you level of determination. The screener isn’t even a part of the company and only goes by buzz words, specific matches, set of qualifications, and criteria for each position to be filled. Funny, I have assisted in moving million dollar hardware, radars and satellites, the Hubble space telescope and B2 from start to finish, but because I have a legacy contributory retirement plan, I make too much money, I don’t add value to the end product, and I am too close to retirement (age 52) I have not even had the privilege of an interview. Internal poitics and favoritism also permeates this industry to this day and it wouldn’t matter if I had every qualification for the job, if I didn’t know the hiring manager directly, or someone very close who could put in a good word, my application was rejected with an automated response.
    I will continue applying for every position I believe I qualify for, but there isn’t much I can do when the system is broken.

  2. Oh Ya, I forgot to add that MANY of my managers didn’t even have a Bachelors Degree which became a minimum requirement for consideration of promotion and couldn’t demonstrate leadership of a group, much less a whole department. They were given a waiver of this requirement because of their years of experience. So if they knew who to contact, accepted the terms of the position, worked for lower pay, then they were placed in the position of manager. They proved time after time to be incompetent, wasteful, dishonest, and uneducated, yet they had a career. This company has digressed to the point where I would start being concerned for our national defense. A true account of just how far America has given up on this USAF Veteran!

  3. Pro Tip: before you have a job and experience, you are “unqualified” for all jobs. Therefore, any new graduate, unemployed person, or person trying to change career fields or improve their relative lot in life is “unqualified” for the position they seek. That is the very nature of self improvement – to improve the current state of oneself to something better.

    Therefore, anyone not applying for jobs they are “unqualified” for on paper is selling themselves short, sabotaging their own career, and probably joining America’s tens of millions of permanently unemployed.

    1. Mark,
      I couldn’t agree more. I would add that employers toss in every single thing they can think of in an ideal candidate with little expectation of ever finding that person. The point is to have a range of candidates to choose from and to do a “give and take” on skills and background (this one’s really important; this one not so much). In the end, the job can and will be learned by the new person – an employer is looking for someone who will fit in well as much as anything.

  4. I have nothing but sympathy for Mr. McGuire’s plight. Automated Screening programs are the main problem here. Google “How to Defeat Screening Software” and see what you come up with. This is the main problem: getting past the screening software; if you can do this, you can be considered. The other problems; cronyism and age-discrimination. I recently was let go from US Joint Forces Command, and, one reason or another, can not seem to find work. This despite I have gone back to school, got my Bachelor’s Degree, am close to getting my MBA. I have finally resorted to apply for Internships (See Pathways program), both federal and private. I have recently had some success there. In fact I am waiting to hear back on 4 federal Internships that I have applied under the Pathways program; this is supposed to offer an easier “on-ramp” to students wishing to experience federal employment. I hated to go this route, because, like you, I am an over-50 adult, but at the same time, I am trying to make a transition and this seemed like a good way to accomplish that. The other thing I am applying for is Insurance Sales: GEICO and AFLAC (two well-known brands) are actively recruiting Insurance Sales People. It is cheap to get into (less than $200 for a License), good paying with residual income (keeps on paying after the initial sale) and is flexible (allows for family time). Don’t give up hope, Mr. Maguire, but give yourself permission to look at things outside of your normal scope.

  5. I have to disagree Mark. Not qualified on paper is not the same as unqualified. There are plenty of ways to demonstrate proficiency without having a professional background in that topic. Some of the best help desk technicians I’ve encountered were hobbiests long before they got into the field professionally. They were able to prove themselves. They also weren’t suffering under any delusions and they took lower pay in entry level jobs in order to prove themselves and move up.

  6. Alan,

    Help desk is an entry level job with entry level pay. Employers still want experienced professionals, but they usually learn over time that anyone employable (just employable, not intelligent, not motivated, just “employable”) quickly outgrows help desk and moves on to higher paying specialties. Therefore, employers have no choice but to take chances on relatively inexperienced candidates for help desk jobs.

    The 21st century job market is ruthless. Employers are unwilling to pay for training, and want every candidate to match up perfectly with their ideal candidate profile (3-5 years experience, B.S. required, Masters preferred, experience with the exact proprietary technology their environment uses, etc.). The reason they want 3-5 years of experience is because that is the sweet spot where you have enough experience to be 100% productive but are probably willing to accept less pay than the position commands.

    I was sent home from a job an hour after showing up for my first day because the government folks in charge didn’t like my resume. The company (CHICKASAW NATION INDUSTRIES) was a sub to one of the big primes and apparently, while I met the requirements on paper (mostly a secret clearance with security+ certification), the government was not pleased and dismissed me. That is the reality of the 21st century job market, employees are nothing but tools and they discard us as you would discard a plastic fork after you’ve finished your meal.

    Was I qualified for the job? Not really, I was reaching. That’s what you do when you’re ambitious – you reach for something better rather than accepting your lot in life. I could have stayed on the help desk and I’d be making about 1/3 what I make now; because I was ambitious and dared to apply for jobs I may have been “unqualified” for I have achieved more than I otherwise would have.

    The whole mentality expressed in this notion of not applying for jobs you aren’t “qualified” for smacks of elitism with a bit of caste bias. It’s like, “How dare you peasants even attempt to compete with your social betters?! Have you no shame? Know your place and be thankful for your job at McDonalds.” This is America, the nation founded on the notion that anyone can go out and achieve their dreams, regardless of the exclusionary systems people have tried to build to discourage them. A merit based, competitive nation without a caste system. Someone should have told Steve Jobs that without a college degree he was “unqualified” to work at a tech company, much less found/run one.

    The obsession with credentials is a relatively new phenomenon in America, and not a positive one. We are discouraging people from even attempting to do things because we insist that only formal training can prepare one for economically productive activity. It is an elitist notion that only leads to a hardening of a defacto social caste system where only those with access to expensive education and training are “qualified” to do much of anything aside from collect welfare benefits. The only saving grace in this discussion is that credentialism *is* a reality in the government (bureaucrats like papers, who’d have thunk it?), and this is, a site dedicated to the government sector.

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