How to Get a Job When You Don’t Have the Right Job Qualifications

job qualifications
Image by Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay

Out there, maybe on LinkedIn, you’ve seen a job listing you really want. But you don’t have all of the job qualifications.

As you scan the listing, you see that you have some, but not all of the things that the employer is looking for.

You don’t have the right job qualifications, and you think it’s a lost cause.

How do you know when the job isn’t right for you, and you should keep on looking, or if it’s worth investing your time and energy into applying for this position?

In this post, I’ll tell you. . .

What Are The “Right” Job Qualifications?

Here’s what you need to know about that job posting:

Secretly, or not-so-secretly, most employers don’t think they’re going to get 100% of the requirements they list. In fact, they don’t always have a well-thought-out plan of what should be on that posting.

Sometimes, it’s a cobbled-together thing that someone held up to the light and decided at some point was good enough to throw onto the internet and see what fish they could catch with it.

Don’t think that the employer has tested it scientifically. They haven’t.

How Many of the Job Qualifications do I Need to Have?

That doesn’t mean that your potential future employers are cave-people beating rocks together. They’re not. They’re doing the best they can to get the very best person for the job.

But they will almost always consider someone who isn’t exactly who is described on that job listing.

That means that if you meet about 75-80% of the job qualifications – and they’re the non-negotiable ones, you’ll have a chance.

Non-Negotiable Job Qualifications

What are non-negotiable job qualifications?

It’s pretty easy to understand, but most people think about non-negotiables in terms of what you’re not willing to give up, such as salary or commute.

There’s another side to it, too.

If you have many of the skills of the job except that pesky old MD, or ten years of experience as a surgeon they keep asking for, then you’re out. Those are essential and non-negotiable – from the employer’s point of view.

However, there might be other skills that can fall in the 20-25% of skills you lack that can be easily picked up, and that the job can be performed without in the short term, or reasonably well. That could be a programming language, for example.

Those are the negotiable skills.

If what you lack on the job description falls into that negotiable category, you’re free to apply. We’ll talk more about what to do about the lack of these negotiable skills below.

What Job Qualifications DO you have?

Now, it’s time to focus on why you’re a great fit for this job. There are things that you can highlight that will sell you right into this new position.

Don’t Discount Enthusiasm

What made you so enthusiastic about it in the first place?

Don’t discount your enthusiasm as a selling tool. That enthusiasm is something your future employer is going to want to hear about. Lack of enthusiasm for a position is a difficult, if not impossible, thing to cure in an employee, and it accounts for loss of productivity and creativity. So, if you can bring enthusiasm, tell them all about it!

Transferable Skills

If 75-80% of your skills transfer to this new position, tell your new employers all about it. You may be using a skill in a new way, for example, going from police detective to investigative reporter, but those skills around digging for information still apply.

Figure out what your skills are, and how you want to use them. Then talk about how they are best put to use.

Make a Case in Your Cover Letter

Your cover letter isn’t just a nice greeting written by your grandma. Too many people use it as a kind little Hallmark card intended to introduce themselves and tell the employer how much they’d love to work at the company and why.


Instead, your cover letter is a precision weapon.

It’s a finely tuned implement, designed to target exactly what the employers need. They need something = you show them why and how you are the perfect person to provide it.

Do your research and understand what their needs are and then entice them to want to meet with you because you are the answer to their prayers.

Get an Intro

If you can network your way into a company, it’s easier for a future employer to overlook any gaps you might have on your resume. They will meet with you because they got your name from somewhere, and then you can proceed to wow them with your interview skills.

Gaps in Your Job Qualifications

The gaps in your resume (the negotiable job qualifications) should be planned for. If you know that you need to take a class to fill that gap, you should come to the interview prepared with that. Either already be taking that class, or know where, when and how you can take it. Know exactly what you have to do to meet 100% of their requirements, so they see you are serious about the job, and that they know that with the tiniest bit of polish, you’re not only exactly what they need, but that you exceed their expectations.

Additionally, there may be other projects or volunteer opportunities that you can do – things your competition isn’t willing to do – that will give you the advantage you need.

Get a Job Without All the Job Qualifications

I hope that you can see that lacking some of the qualifications for a job you really want shouldn’t be a reason to swipe to the next listing. You can make yourself appealing to that employer.

Especially if this job is a step up for you and it’s something you’re really excited about, you have just done yourself a huge favor!


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