Tips For Applying To Jobs You're Not Qualified For (Because Men Are Obviously Already Doing It)

Actively choosing not to apply to jobs you want just because you're not technically qualified for them is a huge mistake. Allow us to let you in on a little secret: Men do it all the time. Apparently, during an in-house investigation conducted by Hewlett-Packard, the technology company found that men apply for a position if they meet at least 60% of the criteria. In contrast, they found that women will only apply if they meet every item on the job description (per Harvard Business Review). No doubt, this particular line of thinking puts women as a whole at a great disadvantage — financially and otherwise. 

Just like the old saying, "Dress for the job you want, not the one you have," you should also apply for the jobs you want, not the same one you already have. But how does one go about doing this? Here are a few tips and tricks on applying for those dream jobs that perhaps you're not exactly qualified for but could become your reality all the same!

Be honest and highlight your transferable skills

Honesty is the best policy! Make no mistake about it: Just because you're applying for jobs that you're not actually qualified for doesn't mean you should lie and say that you are. This isn't a fake it till you make it kinda thing. Instead, you should utilize the time-honored tradition of crafting a stellar cover letter highlighting all of the experience, qualities, and transferable skills you do possess. But what exactly are transferable skills? "Let's say you became the Chair of a volunteer group at university and used your organizational skills to raise x amount of food donations, anything you can quantify will be helpful in backing up those transferable skills," Monster career expert Vicki Salemi explained to Cosmopolitan UK in 2021. 

That goes for any career gaps too. "We're seeing an increase in people being transparent and honest about having a gap in their CVs, and why," communications professional and career expert Charlotte Davies told the BBC. "It's showing that a career break can offer an individual new skills, fresh perspectives, and a renewed sense of energy when they return to the workforce." In short, explain all of the skills you developed and honed in on while you stepped away from the corporate ladder. Just because you weren't racking up years of experience at a job doesn't mean you weren't learning and growing.

Do your research and get creative

Sadly, sometimes half the battle is just getting your resume in the right person's hands. Oftentimes, candidates that aren't technically qualified are weeded out before the powers that be can even take a look. This is when you do your research and get a little creative.

Career coach Darius Harris advises job seekers to connect with hiring managers via the postal system, email, or even LinkedIn. If you can walk the fine line between introducing yourself and not being intrusive, you can make a great first impression that will be way more memorable than any resume sitting on someone's desk. But this is where the whole "do your research and get creative part" comes in handy. Sometimes, it's hard to figure out who the hiring manager is, let alone their contact information. According to Corporate Escape Artist founder Carolina Castrillon, a company's website can be a wealth of knowledge. "If the hiring manager isn't listed on the site, see if they have a 'contact us' form or email that you can use to reach out. If there is a phone number listed, you can also try calling," she told Get Hired by LinkedIn News. "Ask the person who answers the phone for their help [locating the hiring manager], especially if it is a smaller organization where they are most likely able to know what is going on and who is hiring," Shannon Kampa added. And voila: You've just made a very important professional connection. Happy dream-job hunting!