Overcoming a Lack of Qualifications

Finding a good job when you're underqualified and lacking experience seems like a catch-22. In order to get a good job you need experience. In order to get experience you need a good job. Acquiring the necessary skills to qualify for a good job may be a bit easier than gaining experience, but it still takes time to aquire skills. Finding a good job when you're underqualified isn't impossible, but it will require to get off your duff and step outside of your comfort zone.

Remember the catch phrase "It's who you know not what you know". While experience and skills are important, the reality is that the person who lands the job isn't always the most qualified. In fact, they're often not the most qualified. A defining characteristic of today's culture and job market is uber-connectedness. He who knows how to network, and network effectively, outshines he who has the best resume.

A recent survey of top employers came to the conclusion that the more direct information an employer or hiring agent has about a candidate, the less important their skills, academics and relevant experience become. That's not to say that a journalist is going to qualify for an engineering position, or vice versa, simply because they start playing golf with the hiring manager. It does however suggest that if you're lacking depth of experience and skill, you may still beat out more qualified candidates if you're able to build a close relationship with a hiring manager or employer. Building a relationship of trust develops a sense of proximity with potential employers and you're no longer viewed as a mystery, but as a person, an individual with personality, character, values and worth.

Stepping out from the shadows, positioning yourself as a known entity, and getting recognized is the key to overcoming deficiences in your experience, skill set and resume. So how exactly do you accomplish this? Quite simply you need to stop being a stranger and get involved with people in your industry. The following are a few places we recommended getting involved:

  • Professional Associations - Most career fields have professional organizations. Whether you're a nurse, engineer, banker or business manager, there are professional organizations that represent your career field. Get involved in professional associations. Attend events, volunteer and make yourself known among the other members.

  • Alumni Organizations - If you graduated from a college or university, especially one of the larger schools, chances are they have an established undergraduate and/or graduate alma mater alumni association you can join. Graduating from the same school or program as an employer or hiring agent creates an immediate bond. Getting involved in your school's alumi organization is a big step toward stepping out of the shadows and becoming a known entity.

  • Special Interest Groups - There a large variety of special interest groups – and the members of special interest groups are usually a tight knit group of professionals. For example, several states and local municipalities sponsor entreneurship, small business, venture capital, finance, and accounting groups to support local economies. Some of the most successful professionals are involved in these groups. Becoming known among the members of special interest groups in your field will go a long way to helping you get recognized.

  • Civic Groups - Even though local social service, self-help and civic groups may not be directly related to your profession, they're still a great way to step outside of your comfort zone and develop a sense of proximity with your community, community leaders and other successful professionals.

Best of all, employers and hiring managers are often very involved in the associations, organizations and groups listed above. So step out of your comfort zone, get involved, get yourself known, and let employers and hiring managers get to know you, your values, and you qualities. Doing so will allow you to overcome shortcomings in your experience, skills set and resumes – and may even get you a leg up on the competition.

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