In my experience, there's one quality that separates job seekers who are successful in their searches from those who flounder. It's not the college they went to, the degree they hold, or how smart they are. It's not a particular certification or a certain amount of experience.
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The thing that makes all the difference is confidence in their own abilities.
I'm not talking about being completely unrealistic and assuming you can become an accountant without having a background in math, for example. What I'm talking about is seeing a requirement on a job description and knowing you can do it, despite not having done it before at work. Even with no professional experience, you feel it's in your wheelhouse.
You Can't Land a Job Without Putting Yourself Out There
For many people, putting themselves in the running for a job when they don't meet every single qualification seems like a terrible idea. They assume it'll be a waste of time, and they're certain they'll be embarrassed when they're turned down. But in reality, by not submitting themselves for a job, they're saying they're not good enough – without even giving the company the chance to see their resume.
This is an area in which youth can beat experience. It's much more common for a young person to feel comfortable applying for a job they aren't a perfect fit for. That makes sense, because they're just starting out. What do they have to lose?
But think of this problem from another perspective. When a job is created, a job description must be written. In many cases, the hiring manager enjoys writing a job description as little as you enjoy updating your own resume. The hiring manager may pull the post together from old descriptions or random ones they find on the Internet. Ultimately, the list of required skills may or may not really reflect what's necessary for the role. It's a wish list more than anything else.
You'll Never Be a Perfect Match – and That's a Good Thing
Consider this: If you were a hiring manager, would you prefer to hire someone who met 100 percent of your qualifications but had a bad attitude? Or would you prefer to hire someone who met 80 percent of your qualifications and had a great attitude? There are many situations in which fit outweighs specific qualifications.
Frankly, it's rare you'll meet every requirement for any job description, even if you've done the exact same job before. If you do meet every requirement, it's possible you're not shooting high enough. There's a chance you're simply making a lateral move. Perhaps the job won't be challenging enough for you.
At the end of the day, you can't let a few requirements on a job description slow you down or make you feel bad about yourself. Focus on the strengths you do bring to the table and go from there. Submit your resume and give the company the opportunity to decide whether or not they would like to work with you. If you don't, another candidate (who may be much less qualified than you) will.
As J.K. Rowling once said, "Anything's possible if you've got enough nerve."
A version of this article originally appeared in the Memphis Daily News.
Angela Copeland is a career coach and CEO at her firm, Copeland Coaching.