You saw a great job on your favorite job board. But, you don’t have everything that the company is asking for. You have some of it, but not all…. should you bother applying? When looking for a new career opportunity, one of the hardest things to do is to be creative, think outside the box, take a risk. As a seasoned job search counselor, I have had to help many of my clients deal with “self rejection”. This behavior causes the job hunter to pass up on opportunities that might very well lead to their next job.
Do you like to be rejected? Do you like to fail? Do you like to be “turned down”? The answer? In the words of my teenage children, “Duh, um no!” (Note: the words “duh” and “no” must be spoken with appropriate inflection…). Since basic human nature causes us to avoid rejection, especially during times of stress (job hunting), we choose to steer clear of risky actions: risky being defined as at risk of REJECTION. So what happens is, we “self reject”, that way we can’t be rejected by a potential employer. If you aren’t following me yet, think back to high school. Guys, did you go straight over to the most gorgeous girl in your class and ask her to the prom? Or did you “self reject”, deciding not to bother asking, knowing that she wouldn’t possibly say “yes”. And what were the results? No rejection (and no prom date…) It’s the same thing here. Job seekers do it all the time, they do it every day, and in doing it, they miss out on loads of potential opportunities.
So, you say, what am I supposed to be doing? When you read a “help wanted” ad online or in the paper, think of the experience you have that will show the employer you can do the job. Most job seekers read a job ad, find one thing the employer is asking for that they DON’T have, and avoid rejection by not applying for the job. Think about it, how many candidates are out there who have every qualification that the employer is looking for? And how many of them are looking for a job right at that moment? Okay, so there might be a few. But employment selection is tricky. You have to be IN THE GAME to have a chance at winning. If you don’t apply, you are on the sidelines. So what you must do is tell the employer, in your cover letter and resume, what you DO have that makes you an excellent candidate for that job. Focus on your skills and experience. If the employer is seeking someone with 3 – 5 years’ experience and you only have 2 years, you need to beef up your cover letter telling them what you accomplished during those two years. Do not include in your cover letter the fact that you only have two years’ experience. They will see that on your resume. Your goal should be to take attention away from that fact by catching their eye with a few of your stellar accomplishments. Did you save the company money? Earn any awards? Receive excellent performance ratings? Get promoted? Train other employees? Beat deadlines? Learn a new software program? You get the idea. Remember, someone with two years of progressive, genuine accomplishments is much more valuable than someone who has five years of poor attendance, repetitive mistakes and questionable interpersonal skills. As my former boss used to say, “Five years of experience? What did you DO for those five years?” Just the fact that you have five years’ experience means zip if you haven’t accomplished anything.
Read job ads carefully. You will find that there are “required” qualifications and “desired” qualifications. While it’s true that “required” qualifications are harder to gloss over than “desired” qualifications, the lack of a requirement is NOT an automatic reason to avoid applying for that position. You just need to work a little harder to prove to the employer that you have some valuable skills and experience that they can’t live without. You do this by communicating your measurable accomplishments to that employer in your cover letter and resume. For instance, if the job ad for a customer service position states “Bachelor’s degree required” and you hold an associates degree, you might state in your cover letter, “After graduating from Community College, I began my career in sales support with ABC Corporation. Since that time, I have annually received my company’s highest rating, “Superior”, for customer services provided. I have frequently received compliments from clients regarding my follow up and problem resolution skills.” Bingo, you just successfully blocked their initial rejection of “this person doesn’t have enough education.”
Also, it is becoming increasingly common for employers not to respond to all inquiries. In the past, most companies sent out “no thank you” letters to those who were not being considered. Today, due to the high number of applicants and the ease of application through internet job boards and company web sites, many companies only contact those applicants who are being considered for interview. So if you don’t hear from the company, take it in stride, realize that this is not a personal rejection; there just happened to be others who were a better fit for the job. So move on and keep sending out those resumes.
Finally, DON’T self reject! Apply for every job you are interested in provided you have at least some of the requirements they are seeking. Remember this is a game, a numbers game, and you have to be in the game as often as possible to come out a winner! And just like a toddler learning to walk, you will likely have to take a few falls before you can run through the door to your new job.