Not qualified for a job? Do something about it!

Job Land

Photo and quote from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia… as if you didn’t know already.

As you know, the job hunt is filled with highs and lows. It is a task that puts everyone in the emotional state of a very pregnant woman… I would assume. Even reading the qualifications can make us all hot messes.

Must know AP Style–yes. Must have experience using Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms for marketing purposes–Yes. Must have experience using WordPress–YES! Must be proficient in Photoshop–no. No. NO! Does one unit in a class I took in high school count? Probably not. I’m doomed!

Reading just one or two qualifications that I don’t meet is enough to send me over the edge. Why? Because the job market is RIDICULOUS! If I’m applying for an entry-level position and only kind of know Photoshop, my resume won’t stand a chance. The job will probably go to someone who has 10 years of experience as a web-designer. Yeah, those ultra-experienced people are applying to the same jobs us entry-level kids are attempting to land.

It’s really easy to get discouraged, but keep your chin up! Back when the economy was booming, employers actually trained prospective employees on the skills they lacked. But now, until you get your foot in the door, you’re on your own. So train yourself!

Make a list of skills you need for the job you want

These days, we have to be proactive if we want to achieve anything in our careers. So instead of grabbing a bowl of pity ice cream when you see a qualification you don’t meet, grab a productive pen (or grab both; we’ll call it party ice cream for this purpose). Write down what skills you need to gain in order to stand a chance with a similar job in the future. Keep this list handy for the next step.

Actually work on what you write down

Last year I applied for a job as a copywriter with Sierra Trading Post. I made it all the way to the final interview and they seemed to really like me. But in the end they went with someone who had more know-how of outdoor gear and more copywriting experience. This year I saw a job posting for the same position. I got really excited because I thought maybe I could nab that job this time around. But then I thought to myself, Do I know any more about gear than I did last year? Do I have more experience as a copywriter? No, and no. An entire year went by and I didn’t bother to brush up on the two things that prevented me from getting that position.

What’s the lesson? Time goes by fast. Really fast. So stop thinking about what you could do to become a better candidate and start working on it. Find a Photoshop class. Open that book you bought on HTML before it’s outdated. Start reading blogs and books by people who are knowledgeable in your industry. Don’t just sit there. Do it now!

Don’t be your own obstacle

So you know what you need to work on? Great! It’s smart to continue improving yourself so you stand a chance in the job market, but remember that you may already be more qualified than you think. If a job description only lists one or two qualifications you don’t think you meet, apply anyway. This is especially true for years of experience. None of us recent grads have five years of solid work experience doing anything (aside from lifeguarding or busing tables). But we have done classwork and internships in related fields–count it!

Make sure you read job requirements carefully. Most postings will lay it out for you and say, “Here are the skills you absolutely need. Here are the skills that are preferred. Here are the skills that would give you bonus points.” Don’t waste your time applying for jobs that you’re underqualified for, but don’t sell yourself short by not applying for jobs that you have a chance at.

Why not start your list now? Name one qualification (aside from experience) you always seem to be missing in your search for an epic job.

PS: If you haven’t seen the episode of It’s Always Sunny that the main photo is from, here’s the clip.


8 thoughts on “Not qualified for a job? Do something about it!

  1. Really like this post. Job postings can be so discouraging when they list required skills that you don’t have, and it’s easy to forget that you can teach yourself many of these skills

  2. Brilliant post! While higher education has left most of us in ridiculous amounts of debts it looks like us twenty-somethings will also have to self-learn a lot of stuff. It’s very frustrating, but I have tried to start learning web development skills with free resources online as I’m finishing up my master’s in an entirely unrelated field. is very useful for anyone who wants to start the process of learning how to code.

    Even though I know I’ll never be a programmer; hopefully it’s that little bit of extra effort that will pay off with a good paying job soon.

    • Thanks! Yeah, I think coding can come in handy no matter what your long term career goals are. Thanks for the website suggestion; I’m definitely going to start using that. Good luck finishing your master’s and finding a good-paying job!

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