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Skills to highlight when you're under qualified for a job

It is easy to feel uneasy when you lack the qualifications for a job. This is where you turn to your skills, not the ones that fit the job profile, but ones that make you more valuable. Let the hiring managers know of skills you have honed that will be an asset. Learn to showcase your abilities in the right manner when applying for a job.

You've got a lead on a job, your heart's set on it, you'd like to apply, but there is a hitch, you don't meet all of the requirements. You're also aware that you are under qualified for the position, not unqualified. You feel that if there's a chance of landing that job, you would prove to be an asset to the organization.

However, there is a big issue at hand, your resume will lack some of the skills required for the position. My advice to you is to not think of this as a lost opportunity; don't give up, not yet. With a little bit of strategizing, you can still make things work in your favor and bag that job.

How? By linking the dots, between what the hiring manager requires to any experience that you might have, from a previous job that might plug the gap. Look for avenues where your previous experience can be highlighted to make you a suitable candidate for the job.

The best part is that this is not as difficult as it might seem. You can draw on your skills to help you through –

Lay emphasis on transferable skills

When you find that you don't have the qualification the company requires, look for areas where your transferable skills would fit in. Transferable skills, in case you do not know what they are, are skills that are acquired at work and which you could use in the new working environment.

Let me give you an example. Supposing you have experience working in a job that was not something that you were trained or hired to do. It made you learn new skills. Say, you were hired as a Retail Store Manager, in charge of stocks, but you also doubled up as the one who handled customer grievances. You did a good job handling disgruntled customers, calming them and giving them solutions. This experience is a transferable skill which can be used in a job related to customer service or any job that requires good negotiating skills.

Here is another example - you worked as an investment banker using your analytic and financial modelling skills to work with complex data, but along the way honed your ability to conduct market research and perform competitor analysis. You can highlight these skills if the new job involves market research and strategic planning.

Your application needs to clearly connect the dots, between what the hiring manager wants and what you have to offer. The hiring manager must see the precise skills that you can bring to the table. Here is how it works – the job calls for A (qualification, experience, blah, blah), but you have experience in B, which allowed you to improve on skill sets that are needed for the job. Focus on this aspect of your experience.

This is an important stratagem and it must be done correctly. Your resume and cover letter will need to stress on the skills you possess. However, as important as it is, focusing on just your transferable skills would be insufficient. There is a lot more to you than that, which you will need to highlight. For instance, your abilities and expertise that don't fit into the job listed, but those that could still evoke interest. So, don't stop short.

Stress on Additive Skills

A lot of times companies list irrelevant requirements as a prerequisite qualification. These aren't vital as such, but make the applications extra appealing. You probably possess an aptitude that isn't called for; nevertheless, it is something that would allow you to do an excellent job. These are called additive skills, for they are an addition to your qualification.

I'll go back to the example I used while discussing transferable skills. The job calls for A, but you have experience in B, and although it is not what is required, it would help you excel in the position, because… (elaborate how). Remember, that an additive skill is that something extra that you have to offer, in addition to all else that is expected of you.

Let's do a little analysis here – You are under-qualified, but you have a credible reason for it. You spent three years working in a different industry and your work experience is based on the same. If you are too young for the new position, the odds are that you are brimming with innovative ideas and have the energy to outperform the competition.

Your work experience does not meet the requirement. You have 4 years experience working as a Debt Capitals Market Analyst, whereas the new job asks for minimum 6 years. You can cover that with the rest of your work experience. You worked as an Investment Banking Associate for two years and spent a year onsite as an intern. Work your way around, seeing how best you can project yourself to the employer.

You need to believe in yourself and be firm that you can deliver. A half-hearted approach is not what you need.

The best way to use transferable and additive skills to your advantage

The best advice I can give is to use all your resources to package and market yourself, such that you leave a good, lasting impression on the hiring manager. You need to highlight both additive and transferable skills so they make your candidature attractive.

The opportunities won't come to you. You have to make them come to you. Everyone else who applies for the post will have similar qualifications. They would all seem ideal for the job, offering nothing more than what is required, in terms of experience and expertise. You, instead offer much more in terms of additive and transferable skills that give you a certain edge and make you noticeable.

Cash in on of that. Make a mention of your skills in a short, but persuasive manner in your cover letter. For example, assume that you are currently employed as a project manager and have great writing skills, and you're applying for a position of sales head.

Highlight your attributes thus –

  • Transferable skill : "Part of my responsibilities in my current job entail encouraging my team to meet targets, and given the opportunity I'd use the skills that I have honed on the job, to get the team to meet goals, in a timely manner."
  • Additive skill : "As someone who drafts the company's monthly news bulletin, I am confident that my writing skills would prove to be an added qualification that'll boost my efforts of convincing prospective clients via written correspondence."

Once you receive the interview call, you can stress on the same skills to demonstrate why you are the perfect candidate. You have to believe that you can do the job, only then will you convince the hiring manager.

Presenting your ability to write, as an added skill, might not look persuasive enough. But, if you use tact to present the same, to the hiring manager, it can look something like this – "A major part of wording convincing communication is an understanding of the addressee, and I would use my skills to connect with probable clients to and turn them into assured clients."

You will need to present yourself to the hiring manager so they see the real potential and characteristics they need.

Article by Juana
Juana is a freelance writer, with years of experience, creating content for varied online portals. She holds a degree in English Literature and has worked as a teacher and as a soft skill trainer. An avid reader, she writes on a variety of topics ranging from health, travel, education and personality development.

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Author: Natarajan22 Sep 2017 Member Level: Gold   Points : 3

Wonderful positive article to be read by people applying for a Job. I must admit that I was never aware of these terms until now. Many of us, including myself, would have gone through those difficult times trying to fill in the CV or a Job application trying to fit in the specifications with what little we had to start with.

This to me is like thinking out the box but in a formal way. Analyzing our strengths, exploring our own skills that we thought was not relevant or underrated. Once we know what we have and translate our thought in a legible manner that's easy to comprehend, then it would make a difference in standing a real chance at getting the job. I hope many readers apply this and reap the benefits.

Author: Umesh28 Sep 2017 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 5

Excellent article very nicely elaborating how to present your skills apparent as well as hidden at the time of interview for a job.

There are many persons who have done very good job and may be sometimes outstanding job in peculiar situations or someone has done a job in some technical area in an innovative way saving a lot of money for his organisation and things like that but unfortunately many of these persons forget those and just go ahead. Now when these people get an opportunity for another job they do not recollect what all they did and are not able to categorize them under a particular skill category. So ultimately, they cannot show or present that in their CV and basically lose those great points at the time of interview elsewhere.

So in a nutshell, whatever one has done which was awarded or appreciated by his employer is to be noted down with great care and precision and to be categorized under the appropriate category if the benefit of the same is to be derived later on.

Author: Juana24 Jun 2019 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 5

Most of us do that, we undermine our skillsets and let our qualification do the talking. We need to understand that we grow with time and our experience helps us to be more proficient at what we do. We might not have the academic qualification but when we have the experience, we should spell it out.

It is easy to feel anxious and low when we don't have the necessary qualification to fill in a post. We have the requisite experience and we shouldn't let that pass or feel like nothing.

It is always nice to let your prospective employer know what you have to offer. Let them see a side of you that cannot be assessed through paper qualifications. When you know you have it in you, let your confidence shine through. It will give you that extra boost. You have to sell yourself and the loads of valuable experience that you have gained. Recruiters like to see that kind of confidence in people. When you display transferable skills you also display how easy it would be to mould yourself in a new environment. Companies want people who are mailable and not someone who is too rigid to learn something new.

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