3 Ways to Show You're Right for a Job When You Don't have Exact Experience

As low employment rates continue to hover around 3.5 percent, the current tight job market has made it far easier for candidates to get their foot in the doors of companies that ordinarily wouldn't give them a second look due to their lack of specific experience.

The current market climate is a unique opportunity for many hopeful job seekers because numerous employers need to fill empty positions and struggle to find the top talent to fill them. As a result, they're more willing to give someone with less than perfect qualifications a shot at a position.

It’s not a given, though. You'll still have to demonstrate to the hiring manager why you'd be a great fit for the job. Here are three ways to show you're the right hire—even if you don't have the exact experience they list.

1. Highlight your soft skills

With an uptick of technology in the mix doing tasks, employers are putting more emphasis on personality and cultural fit. They'll seek out soft skills in the candidates they interview—things machines, software, and programs can't do.

  • Strong ability to communicate.
  • Willingness to collaborate.
  • Highly personable and friendly.
  • Willingness to adapt and/or be responsive.
  • Possess good organizational capabilities.

Add in creative thinking and leadership, and you'll instantly strengthen your candidacy. According to a survey reported by HR Executive, 75 percent of Americans would hire a candidate with good soft skills even if they lack experience or qualifications. If you've got the right stuff, this could be your ticket in.

2. Display an eager willingness to learn

Even if you lack preferred skills, you can try to win an employer over by demonstrating an eager willingness to learn.

  • Show enthusiasm for the company or for the product they're selling.
  • Focus on corporate culture and show them why you'd be a great cultural fit.
  • Demonstrate a passion for the industry by talking about any hobbies, interests, or activities you're involved in that connect with what the organization does.

If you play your cards right, you could successfully convince an employer exactly why you'd fit right in. Remember, hard skills can be taught, but passion and personal traits can't.

3. Promote relatable skills or interests you do have

Another strategic approach is to make a concentrated effort to focus on skills you have rather than ones you don't. For instance, if a company lists several key skills they're looking for in a candidate and you have roughly half of them, plan to build those up (and minimize the few skills you don't possess). Then think about any relatable skills or interests you have.

  • Do you have unique talents that might align with the company's mission?
  • Do you possess an exclusive skill most other job candidates won't possess?
  • Have you performed volunteer work that would translate and bring value to the job?
  • How about the activities you do in your spare time?

Whatever you've got that could tip the scales in your favor, be sure to play those up in a way it relates to the job. While you might not be an exact fit, you might be qualified enough to be made a job offer.

Employers are more flexible than you'd think

Hiring managers tend to name every attribute they'd like their ideal candidate to have in their job listings, but this doesn't mean they aren't flexible or unwilling to teach the right candidate the skills they lack. Statistics indicate posted job requirements are often far more flexible than you'd think.  According to a 2019 study by Robert Half, 84 percent of companies are willing to give candidates a shot to be hired and trained, even without required skills. Furthermore, the study found 62 percent of candidates were offered positions despite being underqualified.

Bottom line, if you want that position you're underqualified for, go for it. You've got nothing to lose by trying, but potentially a lot to gain.

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