General Question

serendipity's avatar

Applying for a job without all the experience?

Asked by serendipity (225 points ) June 13th, 2009

I’d like to apply for a job and I qualify for most of the things EXCEPT I don’t have all the years in that field that they’re asking for. However, I do have alot of experience in the specific tasks they’re asking for. Not sure if my lack of years in that field is going to be an automatic disqualifier

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10 Answers

Darwin's avatar

Make sure you show how much time you have had in doing the specific tasks so they can maybe consider that as job experience, and hope no one better qualified shows up. Also, write a cover letter describing why you feel you are qualified for the position, such as the fact that you have done all the separate tasks for x number of years.

If you have worked in a similar or related field, that can sometimes be accepted as applicable job experience, and so can unpaid work.

If you are applying for a government job of some sort they may be stricter about the specific guidelines than a private company. Also, if the job is with a small company there may be more leeway. Sometimes, if a position is with a large company that has a separate HR department or a governmental entity and there are a lot of applicants, the HR department will set up criteria for automatically disqualifying you from the pool of interviewable applicants.

Good luck.

Jeruba's avatar

Maybe it is, but don’t let that discourage you from applying. Prospective employers are often willing to negotiate if a candidate has most of what they are looking for. Some qualifications are always going to be more important than others. If you can show strength in their high-priority qualifications, go ahead and apply. Let them be the ones to say if you don’t measure up. You don’t have to disqualify yourself before you even try.

Also make sure that your resume and cover letter use their buzzwords in their job description so the screener (who may not be the hiring manager at all) can see how well you fit their requirements before your resume gets passed on to the next person.

dalepetrie's avatar

Basically either it’s a deal-breaker for them or it isn’t. If they’re willing to consider the “right” candidate who is missing one key attribute, then all you need to do is what you would do anyway…write a well articulated cover letter, customized to the specific needs stated in the ad. If they are not willing to consider you, it doesn’t matter how well you nail the cover letter/resume. And you have no way of knowing that. You do HAVE to apply though if you think you can do the job well…finding a job is a numbers game, and you should apply for anything you think you could do and would enjoy doing.

I can tell you, I’m on the market for about the 8th time in my career and what I know is the opportunity I land is never the one I expect or it’s about the 15th one I thought I had in the bag. You never know what it is that will get you or lose you the job, all you can do is be honest about who you are, what you have to offer, and what you hope to attain in this job search. Now, part of me does say that in this economy (it’s the worst one I’ve ever been unemployed in by far), I’m ending up applying to jobs where I think I’m the perfect candidate because of how uniquely and perfectly I fit their ad, I have a very strong resume and write a very effective cover letter customized to the ad, but yet I still don’t hear back. But then I’ve had in the past gotten a call for something I wasn’t sure about at first, and then bam, a week later I’m working for them. You just never know, but there’s one thing that is 100% for sure…if you don’t apply, you won’t get it, and if you do, you might or might not. Look at it that way and your question answers itself.

whatthefluther's avatar

The fine folks above gave great answers and excellent recommendations. I have nothing to add, but wish to encourage you to definitely apply. I found myself in a very similar situation over 25 years ago when I applied to one of the largest corporations in the world. I had the required education, some supervisor experience, and very solid qualifications in specifically identified areas, but the position title didn’t appear to be a match. Well, that corporation hired this problem solving bean counter as an “engineer.” It wasn’t long before I was assigned into a more appropriate financial analyst position (I was sought by the requesting department, but I had the option…I was performing the engineer job very well). From there, I enjoyed increased responsibility and authority as well as rapid promotion and excellent compensation over a twenty year career (cut short by health issues). So, this “engineer” highly recommends you go for it!

Jeruba's avatar

Just a thought to add to the great comments from others: don’t tell them what you can’t (or won’t) do. Tell them what you can do.

I agree with WTF’s observation that once you get in the door, you can work on adjusting for best fit.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I’m applying for jobs right now
It depends on how many years I’m missing
if it’s over 2 years more than what I have, I put it in the back of my job pages
if it’s under 2 years more than what I have, I apply for it

I know they always put a certain number of years but it’s often arbitrary – my current job I got with no full time experience and they asked for 2

dalepetrie's avatar

@Jeruba – I’ll agree with that insofar as you are willing to do what they ask if you are called upon to do it, even if it requires some training. I might not emphasize for example that I as an accountant who has done just about everything, have no tax preparation experience, and I wouldn’t apply for a tax accountant job, but if a job that was otherwise perfect also said I’d have to prepare some taxes, I might not address it in the cover letter, but if asked directly, I would not lie, however I would emphasize where I’ve been called upon to learn something quickly as part of a job where I hadn’t previously had the experience. And if there is a task that is so awful to you that you’d rather pull out your toenails than do it, and that’s part of the job, no job, no amount of pay is worth forcing yourself into it, so if you feel a job is perfect except for one aspect which is just plain un-doable, then you need to make that clear, even if it makes you lose the job. Otherwise, I agree.

Jeruba's avatar

@dalepetrie, that is pretty much my own view as well. When asked if I know a certain tool, for instance, I may have to say, “No, but I’m ready to learn, and I’m a quick study.”

I won’t lie either, but I do make sure my attitude is positive, my willingness is clearly expressed, and my enthusiasm shows. I think hiring teams are especially well impressed by someone who really wants to do the job and is excited about it.

I had a friend who was applying for a job in graphics and was given a tour before she completed the interview. She was asked if she could do masking. She’d never done it before, but she said yes, explaining to me, “I’d taken a look at the guy who was doing the masking. He didn’t look any too bright to me, and I figured if he could do it, I could do it. And it turned out I learned it in no time.” I would never have the nerve to do that, but for some people bravado works.

Dorkgirl's avatar

Job postings and position descriptions are “wish lists”. It’s often what an employer hopes to get from candiates.
As others have mentioned, focus on what you bring to the job, not what you may be lacking.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Jeruba I have definitely told employers about skills I don’t have knowing that I’d gain them very quickly and that it will work out and it always did

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