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.