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What Makes You Think You’re Qualified?

By Bonnie Johnson,


Candidates tell us “job fit” is the most important credential they are looking for in a potential employer. You’ve found a job posting and feel like you are a good fit for the position, but what if the employer doesn’t agree? How do you make your case and combat any misconceptions? Following are three steps to work through the qualification and application maze:

  1. Thoroughly evaluate the job description before you apply. Know the difference between required and preferred qualifications. The employer may specify legit credentials that are non-negotiable, such as CCA certification, DVM degree, CPA or a CDL license. However, some qualifications might be listed as preferred; these qualifications aren’t deal breakers or they would be in listed as required instead.
  2. If you’re missing preferred qualifications, apply anyway! Perhaps the employer is in an area where qualified candidates are scarce, and they are willing to pay for training. Use your resume to highlight unique skill sets, experiences, and coursework that relate to the job opening, even one-time training classes. Complete your application materials with a cover letter explaining why you’re a good fit for the position.
  3. Make your case in the interview. If you’re lacking a few of the preferred qualifications stated in the job description, develop a plan for how you could work towards obtaining them and be prepared to discuss your plan during the interview.

Employers often say they hire for attitude rather than hard skills. This is because many technical, product and company-specific hard skills will be taught on-the-job. Your soft skills, such as teamwork, communication, and problem-solving, have a profound impact on your career success. One of the biggest advantages of soft skills is they’re transferable. No matter what job, organization, or industry you are in, soft skills are widely applicable and beneficial. Assess yourself to determine your top transferable skills and how they are relevant to the current opportunity. Most importantly, be ready to articulate why they should hire YOU, just in case the interviewer so boldly asks, “What makes you think you’re qualified for this job?”

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