Have you ever looked at a job description and thought “I should apply, but I’m probably not qualified enough for the job”?
The truth is, a lot of us talk ourselves out of doing things because we don’t think we’re good enough, qualified enough, or capable enough: but what’s the worst that could happen? You get told “no”!
Here’s some advice to consider that will help you to figure out when you should apply, even if you think you’re underqualified…
Be honest with yourself first: there’s nothing wrong with being a little self-indulgent
Imposter Syndrome can hold many of us back in our day-to-day working life, but even more so when we look to progress our careers: are we good enough? Do we even deserve the role that we’re currently in let alone trying to find something new? Will we make a fool of ourselves in the interview?
However, being a little self-indulgent and recognising what you’ve achieved is necessary if you’re going to take a risk and apply for that job that feels a little bit out of your league. There’s indulgence, but there’s also delusion - all jokes aside - be honest with yourself and don’t be afraid to recognise your achievements. Write them down so you can visualise them, and give yourself credit where credit is due.
Look at your technical skills and rate them from 1-10
What are the technical requirements for the job? And, how do you rank in terms of your capability? Again, writing this down and seeing it visually will enable you to assess how equipped you are technically for the role in question.
If you’re scoring a 6 and above on the majority of the skills and then slightly less on 2-3, it would be an educated assumption that you’d be able to develop and build on your skills in this new role. If you’re scoring very low on technical skills - the role may be too senior or too advanced for you.
In reality, is this role going to give you growth or is it going to give you stress?
We all want to challenge ourselves in a new opportunity - but entering a job vastly underqualified isn’t going to enable you to grow, it’s just going to cause you stress and burnout, a combination which can lead to disaster.
Bending the truth and saying you can do things (knowing full well that you can’t) could land you in a sticky situation if you get the role and then can’t perform. A little stress isn’t a bad thing, but ask yourself the above question: is this role going to give me growth or is it going to give me stress? If it’s the latter, maybe hold off on clicking the “apply” button.
Could you learn it on the job?
Equally, you want to weigh up whether you could learn certain things on the job - this may not necessarily be a technical skill, either.
It could be certain processes or working models, or it could even just be adapting and improving your skills as a leader depending on your seniority. There are many things that you won’t know going into a new job - no matter how qualified you are. So, have a think about whether you can learn certain things on the job or whether it’s something you are potentially underqualified for.
Consider the company/team size, too
There are a lot of nuances when talking about this topic - going for a new role in a smaller company vs in a larger company is going to require vastly different skill sets and approaches when assessing yourself.
Learning on the job in an organisation that is small limits the amount of exposure that you’ll get to individuals who could probably teach you invaluable technical and soft skills.
Additionally, if you’ve taken a job in a bigger organisation - you’ll most likely have better access to L&D resources; it’s all relative and all important factors to consider when applying for a job (and feeling underqualified).
What’s the worst that could happen?
In reality, what’s the worst that could happen? You get rejected after you’ve submitted an application. A bruise to the ego? Yes. A lifetime of sadness? We hope not. Sometimes, taking the leap and getting rejected can just be confirmation that you aren’t quite there yet - but if you do get invited in for an interview, it can be validation that you’re deemed suited for the job.