Accentuate the Positive: How Frank Sinatra Can Help You Overcome Under-Qualification

In life, very few things are all or nothing. There's a big wide gray area in between. So just because you don't possess every single one of the qualifications and requirements in a job posting doesn't mean you're not the right (wo)man for the job.

If you’ve been eyeing your dream job description and think you’re underqualified, you might want to think again. This time, take some hiring advice from Old Blue Eyes himself. Here are four ways Frank Sinatra's "Accentuate the Positive" just might help you overcome your under-qualification:

1. "Accentuate the positive."

Read the job description thoroughly to get a sense of the kind of candidate the employer wants. Pinpoint what in the job description makes you think you’re underqualified, then accentuate the positives in your resume, which could counter-balance this.

For example, if you don’t quite have the experience the employer has listed — say they’re asking for seven years and you have five — think of other ways to convince the employer that you have sufficient experience for the role. List relevant experience that you’ve gained from volunteering. Emphasize your accomplishments in the years you do have.

2. "Eliminate the negative."

Eliminate the negative perception the potential employer may have of your relative inexperience with a strong cover letter. Explain that you realize you may not have all of the requirements they’re looking for, but you have much to offer all the same. Also, convey how excited you are about the possibility and that you’re eager to learn.

Point out any certifications you have front and center in your cover letter. Since employers sometimes give the nod to job candidates with specialized certifications, your extra credentials may override what you are otherwise lacking. Emphasize transferable skills from your current and previous positions. Remember to use keywords from the job description in your cover letter. This will make it easier for your would-be employer to spot the qualifications you do have.

3. "Latch on to the affirmative."

Understand that job descriptions include what employers are hoping for, not necessarily what they will get. The employer is hoping that someone who fulfills all of the requirements will apply for the position. That doesn't always happen, though.

In fact, in a recent Robert Half survey 24 percent of executives said identifying duties that were essential rather than “nice to haves” was the greatest challenge when developing job descriptions for open positions at their companies. The takeaway hiring advice for applicants is: job descriptions are a wish list. There's no guarantee that the employer will find a 100% match. If your experience is in the ballpark, don't count yourself out. Get your foot in the door with a first interview and you never know where it will go from there.

4. "Don't mess with Mister In-between."

Latch onto the affirmative, but don't be unrealistic. Sometimes you will be lacking requirements that just can't be overcome. If the company requires many more years of experience than you have, you may be better off not wasting your time. Let’s say the job description calls for 10 years of experience and you have five. Chances are the employer simply wants someone more advanced in the role.

Finally, network to learn more about the position. Connect with current and previous coworkers, friends and those in your network who may know someone at the firm. Listen to their hiring advice. A person closer to the position could advise you best on how to address being seemingly underqualified.

Have you applied for a position you didn't perfectly match on paper? Use the comments section to let us know how it went.

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