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When applying for jobs, lack of some qualifications not a deterrent

Chris Posti
| Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, 2:57 p.m.

Want to get hired for a job, but don't have the required experience?

Anytime you learn of a job opening, whether it's through a network contact or an Internet posting, you need to prove you have enough of the necessary qualifications. When discussing this face to face, you have the opportunity to demonstrate some of your skills (such as self-confidence, verbal communication skills, mental agility) on the spot, which can boost your chances for success.

Job postings, on the other hand, are not a two-way conversation, and the list of requirements can seem insurmountably long because of employers' unrealistic hope of attracting a dream candidate.

Frankly, most employers actually don't expect to find anyone with every single qualification, so don't feel you need to fit the job description perfectly — although you should have at least half of the qualifications.

Even when you do lack many of the requirements, a well-written resume and a compelling cover letter can get you through the eye of the needle. For example, employers so desperately need people with strong verbal and written communication skills, that those skills alone can put your resume over the top. Customizing your resume and cover letter according to the stated needs of the employer and emphasizing your transferrable skills helps you persuade the reader you are a fit.

When it comes to transferrable skills, there are “hard skills” — such as programming, accounting, and digital marketing — and then there are “soft skills.” Hard skills, you either have, or you don't. To overcome your deficits in the hard skills, you want to demonstrate that you possess plenty of soft skills. Employers often value soft skills such as accountability, ability to solve problems and overcome challenges, reliability, professionalism, trustworthiness, can think on your feet, optimism, leadership, ability to take risks, being a team player, and adaptability.

Even if you lack some of the stated qualifications, avoid pointing out that you lack relevant experience. Saying things like, “Although I don't have experience in X” or “I don't know X but am a quick learner” will immediately knock your resume out of contention.

Whether or not you possess every qualification on the list, you really have to believe you can do the job. Connect the dots with what you have done and who you are. Be confident but also realistic. Research the employer to learn their needs and challenges.

Even if you cannot seem to land a job of your dreams, just get started somewhere. You can demonstrate your worthiness for promotion or better prepare yourself for future interviews.

If you don't have a college degree, bartenders, wait staff, retail clerks, handymen, assemblers, house cleaners, and fast food workers are always in demand. Today's employers are struggling to hire workers who will show up for work on time, possess some basic skills, and can pass a drug test.

If you have a degree, aim to get hired in the kind of organization where you will have opportunity to move up. Choose a basic path, such as the industry you like, or whether you want to be in for-profit or nonprofit. Then, what size of organization suits you? How about location? Research employers of interest to learn about their culture, their competition, and their challenges. Craft your cover letter to demonstrate you know something about them, and why you are a fit.

With 10,000 baby boomers retiring daily, there are plenty of jobs available. The challenge is to know your capabilities and interests, then match yourself with a job and employer that aligns with who you are and where you hope to take your career.

Contact Chris Posti at www.postiinc.com, www.collegegradcareercoaching.com or at 724-344-1668.

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