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How to Know If You Should Apply for a Job You’re Not Qualified For

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I have several clients who think if they don’t check off all the boxes of requirements on a job ad, they can’t apply for the job. But let me tell you a little story…

You never know what can happen

…When I was just coming out of grad school, I applied for a director’s level position without any full-time professional experience. I knew I was unqualified for the director’s position. But I was interested in it and applied anyway to see what would happen.

Of course I was rejected. But then the company called me because the assistant director position had also just come open. They wanted to know if I was interested in it.

I was much more qualified for this role and was indeed very interested. They offered me the job a few days after my interview! I was so excited because it was my first “real job” out of school.

I say all this to show you never know what can happen. You have nothing to lose but the time it takes to apply.

The truth about the job ad

Most job ads read more like the hiring manager’s “wish list” instead of a realistic request. It’s highly unlikely one person will have all the desired qualifications from the job ad.

As a result, if they aren’t getting the qualified candidate pool they’d hoped for, they’ll likely re-write the job description to reflect a more realistic expectation of qualifications.

When to apply for the job

My recommendation is, if you have at least 65-75% of the qualifications they’re looking for, go ahead and apply and see what happens. Especially if you have any of the preferred qualifications in addition to some of the required qualifications.

But only do so if you have a genuine interest in the job. Never apply for a job you have no intentions of taking just to gain interview practice. This is unethical.

What to do while you wait for a response

While you’re waiting to hear back, see if there is a way for you to learn some of the requirements you’re lacking through a online tutorials or MOOCs. (See the list of educational alternatives in my recent post “How to Know If You Should Go Back to School“.)

Be understanding if they decide they don’t want you, and don’t let the rejection get to you. Instead, be open if they contact you for a job that’s a step-down and is more in line with your current qualifications.

Then in your interview, ask if there are opportunities for future advancement after being with the company for a certain period of time.

Conclusion

I recommend being selective when using the approach above.

If you don’t feel comfortable applying for a job you’re not qualified for, then perhaps you’d be more comfortable doing an informational interview to learn more about what it takes to end up in such a job. (To learn more about informational interviews, check out the on-demand program, The Secret to Successful Networking: How to Do It Naturally and Effectively.)

At the very least you’ll become more aware of the hidden job market and the skills you need to develop.

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Sunday Inspiration: Ask Why Before How

Welcome to “Sunday Inspiration,” a bi-weekly devotional for those seeking spiritual encouragement in the pursuit of their passions. Each post comes from an outside resource (as referenced). I hope these posts will inspire and motivate you in your life and career in addition to our weekly original blog posts. Enjoy!

“They speak a vision of their own heart, not from the mouth of the Lord.” Jer 23:16 NKJV

Eugene G. Grace, president of Bethlehem Steel Corporation from 1916 to 1945 said: “Thousands of engineers can design bridges, calculate strains and stresses, and draw up specifications for machines. But a great engineer is the man who can tell you whether the bridge or the machine should be built at all, where it should be built, and when.”

Asking why before how forces you to think about your core motivations and the source of your vision.

There is much talk these days about “purpose.” And that’s a good thing, because a life of purpose is more rewarding than a life of popularity or power. But your purpose must come from God.

“Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you. They make you worthless; they speak a vision of their own heart, not from the mouth of the Lord.’”

When God is the source of your vision, He will resource it. That’s why the most important question you can ask is not, “What’s the best way to do this?” but, “Why am I doing it at all?”

Ultimately God will make the final ruling on what you have given your life for.

“Each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work…endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss” (1Co 3:13-15 NKJV).

Poet C.T. Studd wrote: “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.”

Source: https://jentezenfranklin.org/daily-devotions/ask-why-before-how

Why Focus Is So Important in the Job Search

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Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you have to find a job, any job, and fast? My clients usually find themselves in one of two situations:

1. They’re at a place in their career where they can take the time to be more intentional in discovering the most meaningful next step for their career.

2. They’re suddenly out of a job they had no intentions of leaving, often due to a layoff. They need a replacement job  fast.

The latter situation is where clients feel they don’t have the luxury to be picky with their next job. But if they aren’t somewhat selective, they can delay the time it will take to find their next opportunity.

How a lack of focus hurts your job search

Even if you find yourself in a desperate situation, you should resist the temptation to take the first job offer you get. You should also resist the temptation to apply to any and every job you see advertised.

Employers and recruiters can recognize a lack of focus immediately just from reading your resume and cover letter. Also, lack of focus is especially evident if you’re applying for several different jobs with the same company.

Both of these things can send up red flags for employers. They don’t want to pursue a candidate who lacks focus or seems desperate.

This in turn can delay finding a job and extend the length of your job search. In addition, the rejection will erode your confidence. And lack of confidence will hurt you in any future interviews you land. All of this can make you more desperate, which creates a vicious cycle.

A better use of your time

You can improve your job search by taking the time you would spend in the cycle described above and instead using it to develop focus. This will keep you on track with the average time it takes to find a job. Also, it will help you find a more fulfilling job and perhaps one with a higher salary.

In addition, by not taking the first offer that comes along, you’ll likely reduce the chances of having to look for something better again a year or so later. This will save you the time it will take to do a second job search after you realize you’ve wasted time in the wrong job.

How to gain focus

There are a lot of ways to determine what your focus should be in your next job search. One way is by making the kind of three-prong list of must-haves for your next job, compromises, and icing-on-the-cake items as described in my post “How to Know If You’re In the Wrong Job.

But often it requires an even deeper dive into such things as your personal and career values, transferable skills, talents, gifts, weaknesses, goals, vision, personal mission, the current job market, and more.

Then, you want to take all of this and see where and how all these things fit together. This part often requires a second pair of eyes to help you see which opportunities you might be missing.

Many clients come to me needing help with this. They find it difficult to figure out their unique differentiators and where those fit in a new career path all on their own.

If this is something you know you need help with, you can start either with paNASH’s on-demand online video courses, or with one-on-one personalized coaching. These resources are designed to help you focus on finding the right fit and to help you stay focused for a successful job search.

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How to Know If You Should Go Back to School

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One question I often get from my mid-career clients wanting to make a career change is,

“Should I go back to school?”

You might expect someone who previously worked in higher education and who’s a huge fan of lifelong learning to enthusiastically respond with, “Yes!” However, this is not my typical response.

Instead, I respond with,

“Is it necessary for your career goal?”

If you don’t know your career goal yet, then you can’t answer this question. Therefore, my first order of business is to help you figure out what’s next for you.

Once you know what you want to do, then we need to determine if taking the plunge into a new degree program is necessary for your goal.

Are the educational qualifications required, or just preferred?

Does the job you’re now targeting require a degree or coursework you don’t have? Make sure you read the job description carefully. Don’t confuse the word “required” with “preferred.”

For example, if the majority of the job ads for the type of job you’re targeting typically requires a 4-year degree but prefers a master’s, you probably don’t need to rush back to school for the master’s and get yourself in more debt.

If you already have the required 4-year degree along with a substantial amount of experience (at least 5-10 years), you’re likely a qualified candidate. Especially if the master’s is about the only thing you’re lacking from the listed qualifications.

Employers typically put more stock into your experience and skills than they do your education. Think about it. If you’re mid-career, when was the last time someone asked you in an interview what your college GPA was? But they probably asked you about your skills and experience instead, right?

And if there are still a couple skills you’re lacking from the job ad, determine if those are skills you could learn quickly and easily through some online courses or tutorials.

However, if the job ad says an advanced degree is required, then you will need to go back to school.

Educational alternatives

Certification programs and boot camps

Let’s assume you’re making a career change and you’re going to have to learn some new skills. Before committing to a lengthy and expensive degree program, find out if the educational requirement can be satisfied with a short-term intensive certification program.

Perhaps you can satisfy the educational requirement with a 12 to 24-week certification program or a 10-month boot camp. These alternatives are sometimes offered online and part-time so you can continue working your current full-time job while attending. There are numerous options like this which serve as an alternative to going back to school full-time.

Beware though when you begin searching for certification programs. There are a lot of certification programs out there that are just money-makers. The only value they add is giving you another line on your resume or more letters behind your name, but aren’t really necessary for compliance in your chosen field. You’ll want to make sure the certification is necessary for the type of job you want. Otherwise, you probably don’t want to spend your money on it.

Also, look for certification programs with a good reputation (like those offered by accredited universities). And look to see if they offer some type of career placement assistance. Before registering, talk to others who’ve completed the program. Get their thoughts of it and see if it has significantly boosted their careers. They will be able to tell you if it’s worth the time and money.

A few of my clients have made a successful career change to the field of coding by investing time and money in a reputable coding boot camp. One such client had no previous experience at all in coding. She landed a job a week before her graduation from the boot camp with a well-known company she’d always wanted to work for.

MOOCs

Another great alternative to a traditional degree program is MOOCs which stands for massive open online courses. They’re taught by professors from highly reputable universities such as Stanford, Princeton, and Duke. Others are taught by professionals from companies like Google and IBM.

These courses are delivered online and vary in costs. Some are free if you’re just wanting to learn something new for personal interest. Others have affordable rates allowing you to learn a new skill, prepare for a career change, or even earn a certificate or degree.

One of the best MOOCs sites is www.coursera.org. They offer over 4,000 courses in subjects such as business, computer science, arts & humanities, engineering, social sciences, and even personal development. I’ve taken a few interest courses myself on this site and really enjoyed the flexibility of it. Once I completed each course a badge was added to my LinkedIn profile.

Reading and Listening

Finally, you can still learn the old fashioned way through books. It’s been said that reading at least five books on one subject can bring you up to near-expert level on the subject.

If you don’t like to read, there’s no excuse! Many books are now available to listen to on Audible or other audio platforms. There are also numerous podcasts available for you to listen to and learn about new subjects.

Improve your job search skills

Sometimes going back to school isn’t the answer. Sometimes the answer is to get help in improving your job search skills.

I recently had a new client come to me thinking he needed to go back to school to get another degree in something else. He assumed this because he wasn’t having any luck with his job search in his current field.

I asked him if he was having trouble finding jobs to apply for. He said he’d applied for several but wasn’t getting many interviews. And when he did get interviews, he wasn’t getting any offers.

Since there were jobs available to apply for, the problem wasn’t a lack of demand. It was his approach to the job search, specifically his resume and interview skills.

Spending A LOT of money on another degree instead of a little money on some career coaching didn’t make sense. So he hired me to help him improve his job search skills.

I spent time giving him new and fresh approaches to networking, helping him tweak his resume, revealing his blind spots in his interview skills, and coaching him on how to improve in future interviews. It’s now up to him to apply what he’s learned from the coaching.

If he’d just gone back to school full-time for another degree program requiring two additional years of studies like he’d originally planned, he would not only be out the money he spent on tuition but also out the money he could’ve earned in those two years. Plus he’d be two years behind in salary increases.

Is going back to school worth it?

So is going back to school really worth it? Definitely not in the example described above. But you have to determine based on your own career goals if it’s worth it or not.

Make sure you take into consideration the following factors:

  • Is it required or necessary to achieve your career goal?
  • How much will it set you back in both time and money?

Also, consider how higher education has changed since you last attended college. Tuition has gone up while the quality of the programs have been watered down.

One client hired me after having started a master’s degree in a new field because she was extremely frustrated and disappointed with the lack of challenge from her classes. The rigor did not equal the amount she was paying in tuition. Therefore, she felt she wasn’t getting her money’s worth and wanted to find out what other options she had.

School vs. lifelong learning

The main reason to go back to school is if it’s absolutely necessary for your career goals. And you don’t want to go back to school simply because you don’t know what to do next.

However, this doesn’t mean you should ever stop learning! You always want to invest in yourself and stay relevant with lifelong learning. Start with some of the more affordable alternatives listed above. Doing so can help you better determine what you want to do next in your career, which will help you know if going back to school for another degree is really the answer.

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Sunday Inspiration: You Can Start Again

Welcome to “Sunday Inspiration,” a bi-weekly devotional for those seeking spiritual encouragement in the pursuit of their passions. Each post comes from an outside resource (as referenced). I hope these posts will inspire and motivate you in your life and career in addition to our weekly original blog posts. Enjoy!

“Don’t keep going over old history…be present.” Isa 43:18 TM

Although it’s true that we all fail, here’s something worth remembering: You can fail successfully. How? By learning from your failures and growing stronger and wiser through them.

Surrendering your future to your past just means you drown in remorse and hopelessness. But if you practice “failing forward,” you can experience future success. So acknowledge your failings, see yourself cleansed by the blood of Jesus, let go of your disappointment in yourself, and get up and try again.

At one point in Elijah’s life, he got so depressed that he prayed he might die: “‘I have had enough, Lord,’ he said. ‘Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors’” (1Ki 19:4 NIV).

Later when he was strengthened by God’s grace, he emerged from his depression a new man with a new mission in life (See vv. 15-16 NIV).

After he’d denied Christ openly, Peter was forgiven. Despite his weakness he was restored, and became the apostle who would “strengthen his fellow apostles” and build the New Testament Church (See Lk 22:31-32).

It’s not a matter of how badly or how often you’ve failed—it’s a matter of what God can make you when you accept His grace, get up again, and allow Him to empower you to do better.

Peter is proof that God takes us when we are weak, and speaks and acts through us in ways that bring glory to Him alone! (See 1Co 1:28).

Will God sometimes correct you? Yes, He’s a good parent, but He won’t discard you. So the word for you today is—you can start again.

Source: https://www.jentezenfranklin.org/daily-devotions/you-can-start-again-2