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How do you put yourself out there when applying for jobs and internships?

How do you overcome the fear of applying to jobs and internships that you feel you are unqualified for?

I am sometimes discouraged by the lengthy "Prior Experience" and "Required Skills" sections listed on job postings, but I've also heard advice to apply to these positions even if you don't meet the requirements.

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Kimberly’s Answer

It's completely normal to feel a little nervous when applying for jobs or internships, but don't let the fear of rejection hold you back. The worst that can happen is being turned down, but the potential benefits of landing a job or internship far outweigh the risks. So, go ahead and take a chance by submitting your application for employers to review your qualifications. Keep in mind that job descriptions often list more requirements than are truly necessary and typically describe the ideal candidate. Employers understand that not every applicant will meet all the criteria. Relax, it's alright; even if you face rejection, other opportunities may come your way.

If you want to stand out from the crowd, even without "prior experience," make sure to express your genuine interest and passion for the field when applying and during interviews. Employers value candidates who are driven, inquisitive, and excited to learn. Show your readiness to gain new skills and adapt to the job's requirements. While you may not have direct experience in the specific field, you probably have transferable skills that can be valuable to the role. These skills might include communication, problem-solving, teamwork, organization, adaptability, and more. Identify and emphasize these transferable skills on your resume and in your cover letter, demonstrating how they can contribute to the position's success.
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Elizabeth’s Answer

Women tend to apply for positions when they meet 100% of the requirements, while men apply when they meet 60% of the requirements. Here's an interesting article on that: https://hbr.org/2014/08/why-women-dont-apply-for-jobs-unless-theyre-100-qualified

My advice is: apply. If you don't apply, you have a 0% chance of getting the job. Kimberly has some great points, so I won't repeat those. I'd also recommend finding others in your field (LinkedIn is great for that) and reaching out. Set up a 30 min discussion and find out what their employer looks for when hiring. Get a few perspectives and I'm sure you'll find common threads.
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Tara’s Answer

INSIGHT INTO APPLYING FOR JOBS WHERE YOU DON'T MEET ALL REQUIREMENTS

Keep in mind, there's no rule that says you can't apply for jobs you're not fully qualified for. In fact, doing so can lead to new and creative paths in your career. However, it's important to stay realistic and think about what's achievable during your job search to avoid wasting time. If you urgently need a new job, focusing on practical opportunities can result in more interviews and possibly landing a position.

Being underqualified means your skills, abilities, and experience don't exactly match an employer's expectations for a specific role. You might be underqualified because of years of experience, degree level, or knowledge of certain tools. Some examples of being underqualified when applying for jobs include:
- Having three years of experience when the employer asks for at least five years
- Not having a college degree for a job that usually requires one
- Speaking only one language when the employer is looking for a bilingual candidate

You may discover that jobs where you have most of the required qualifications but are missing a few are more reachable than positions where you have no qualifications or need much more experience. For instance, if you're a dishwasher in a restaurant with no cooking experience, you wouldn't apply for head chef. However, you could apply for sous-chef, line prep, or salad-bar prep roles. These positions offer better pay than a dishwasher and help you gain skills for future chef applications. Even when aiming for a top position, like CEO, it's crucial to develop skills and gather experience along the way. Also, be aware of your competition when applying for jobs.

Furthermore, remember that if you don't succeed in getting one internship or job position, it doesn't mean you can't get another. It just means that you may need to examine why you didn't get it and what the position required the most that you lacked. Failure is simply a learning process on how to succeed next time. Even Albert Einstein faced setbacks during his career journey, but he is remembered for his great successes. I encourage you to chase your dreams at a realistic pace. Best of luck to you!

Tara recommends the following next steps:

Develop Skills
Gain Experience
Obtain Degrees
Know Your Competition
Knowledge Is Power
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Roger’s Answer

Hi, Belinda!

I suggest to my students that they adopt the view that the organization really needs them more than they need the organization. Especially with jobs, there are currently millions of open jobs--it is definitely a job-seeker's market. Many times, organizations don't really know what they want in an employee or intern, they just put down "requirements" based on a snap decision about what sounds about right, or some nonsense that HR made up. Moreover, they are usually focused on just the current job, not looking for a long-term employee that can grow.

Your job as an applicant is to communicate to them what you can bring to the organization, not just for the current job or internship, but long-term. Identify special facts about yourself including skills, interests, training, and experiences. Talks facts and past experiences and problem solving, not vague statements like you are hard working and a good team member.

Always think about how your background can be (ethically) spun to sound like it meets or is close to the formal requirements. And always search your past: in my experience students almost always leave off really cool/interesting/impressive awards and experiences from their past that they wrongly think would not of interest. Have you won, for example, a hot dog eating contest? Maybe it isn't directly relevant, but it makes you interesting and makes you stand out. And perhaps it is an indication of your drive and willingness to go for the win.

The good news is that you are discussing something that you are the world's leading expert on--YOU! I'm not suggesting you be arrogant, just that you approach the process with a little bit of swagger. This will help with the nervousness. Also, try to get over yourself and just treat the experience of applying and hopefully interviewing as an interesting chance to meet new people and organizations and learn about them.

Half the time, a job or internship may not actually exist, or has really been promised to the CEO's nephew and they are just going through the motions of looking at applicants, so don't get too worked up about any one opening. That realization may help minimize fretting and nervousness.

Good luck!
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Howard’s Answer

Networking is the best way to learn and get noticed. Go to job fairs, conventions or join a local organization that supports the career you want to join.
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Maddy’s Answer

Hi Belinda!

As others have already said, there's no harm in applying for a job where you don't meet all of the criteria in the job listing. It's always possible that the criteria in the listing isn't strictly required, or that you actually meet more requirements than you think you do. There also might be skills listed in the job requirements that you don't meet, but due to other factors in your resume, they might find it worth their time to hire you and have you pick up those skills on the job. You never know what recruiters are looking for, and you won't find out unless you apply!

Something else to consider: maybe you aren't qualified for the specific position the listing is for, but the company could have a position open at a lower level or on a different team that you're a better fit for! By applying anyways, you're getting your resume into their system, and you never know what could happen after that.

Good luck!
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