10 Tips for Applying for a Job With Less Experience Than Required

By Indeed Editorial Team

May 18, 2022

If you've found a job that you want to apply for but don't meet all of the requirements, it's often still worth applying. Even without every qualification, it's possible to receive an interview and a job offer. The key is to shift your pitch toward your strengths in order to focus on the knowledge and experience you do have. In this article, we discuss the best ways to apply for a job when you have less experience than required.

What are job requirements?

Job requirements are the career guidelines that hiring managers set when seeking prospective employees. They want to attract qualified candidates, so they list specific parameters to specify what they are looking for. Think of the job requirements as the hiring manager's wishlist. Of course, their ideal candidate possesses as many skills and as much training as possible. However, hiring managers can also be more realistic and flexible in their hiring approach than you might think.

Here are a few types of requirements that employers include in job descriptions:

  • Years of experience

  • Field training

  • Formal education

  • Software knowledge

  • Skill certifications

Read more: What Are Job Requirements?

Is it possible to apply for a job with less experience than required?

Most hiring managers keep an open mind if they believe a candidate may be a good fit for a position. After all, it's their job to find the right person, not the right resume. This means that even if your resume doesn't meet all of their listed job requirements, they may still be willing to meet with you.

What this means for you is that it is certainly possible to apply for a job when you don't meet all of the necessary requirements. In fact, the question isn't whether you can—it's whether you should. Ask yourself, "Could I do this job?" If the answer is yes, but you don't have as much work experience as they request, you may still be a good fit for the job because you have the knowledge to handle the responsibilities. In this case, you should still apply for the position.

Ultimately, the hiring manager wants to find a candidate who can perform the tasks of the position with ease. So, compensate for your missing criteria by concentrating your resume and cover letter on ways that show you can handle the position's responsibilities. Remember, what helps a company thrive isn't professional skills—it's personal attributes. If you can convince them you're capable, you may be able to secure an interview.

Tips for applying for jobs with less experience than required

To make a good impression and show an employer you're serious about a job opportunity, here are 10 helpful tips that you can use when applying for a job with less experience than required:

Highlight your transferable skills

With your resume, focus on any transferable training, experience and skills that make you seem like a strong candidate for the position. For example, if the position requires five or more years of job experience but you only have three, you may choose to focus on your volunteer work or internship opportunities as well to make up for the lack of experience.

Let's say you're applying for a position in the nursing field, for instance, but don't have the required job experience. In this case, you could emphasize your volunteer work at a local retirement home. To the hiring manager, this may illustrate that you have the position's skill requirements without actually having the job requirements. By demonstrating transferable skills, you can move the discussion from relevant experience to a relevant skill set. Remember, part of your job in the recruitment process is to find ways that your background connects to the position.

Read more: Transferable Skills: Definitions and Examples

Ask for a recommendation

If you don't meet a job's requirements, find someone who thinks you can. An employee referral can not only help make your case, but it can also help you get noticed. If you aren't lucky enough to know someone in the company, be bold and introduce yourself to someone who may be able to help you. Networking is well worth the time and effort. If you don't feel entirely comfortable asking for a referral, consider asking for advice. Often, the question "How would you do it?" can yield surprising results.

It may also help to ask for recommendations from outside of that particular company. By having strong recommendations from previous employers or professors, you can show hiring managers that you are a strong candidate who has made a good impression on other working professionals.

Related: How to Ask For Referrals

Prove you can do the job

If your resume meets most of the requirements, prove you're willing to make up the distance with a pre-interview project. For example, you could look at their product line and come up with ideas for new products. You could also poll your friends about their company services. Turn the data you gain into a unique presentation, and allow your creativity to guide you. You may even be able to impress them by offering a perspective they hadn't considered before.

Get excited about the opportunity

Acknowledge that you're excited and ready to get to work. Let your personality and creativity shine through in your cover letter and in any emails you send inquiring about the position. Sometimes the phrase, "I don't know yet, but I will!" is exactly what the hiring manager wants to hear. It's an attitude that shows you're resourceful and willing to do what it takes to learn new things and drive the company forward.

Match the company culture

Having the kinds of values that fit into a company's existing culture is also an important consideration. A hiring manager may give you a chance if they recognize your potential to match the company culture. So, do your research and show that you'd fit right in. This could mean several things, such as sharing a positive attitude, expressing similar charitable interests or even demonstrating core teamwork values.

Remember, fitting in doesn't always mean converging into what everyone else is doing. More often, it can mean diverging meaningfully based on a shared value system.

Related: What Is Work Culture?

Focus on the core requirements

Every company wants to find the perfect candidate, so it comes as no surprise when some job postings include additional preferences. For example, when you see "Native French speaker preferred," don't let it dissuade you from applying for the role. If you are from France, then you can use that information to your advantage. If not, focus your pitch on the core requirements of the position instead.

State your accomplishments

Sharing accomplishments that align with the position's responsibilities is a great way to show the hiring manager that you're a capable candidate. Let your accomplishments speak to your ability. For example, if you're applying to be a creative writing teacher without the required job experience, it may be worthwhile to mention other accomplishments, such as any accolades you received from your most recent published fiction.

Emphasize your education

If you're entering the workforce for the first time or shifting into a new industry, it can be a challenge to get started. When you haven't been able to gain experience yet, focus your pitch on your education. A quick learner who is new to a field can often be more desirable to a hiring manager than a seasoned worker who may have developed a long career of bad habits.

Be results-oriented

Use your resume, and later your interview, to focus on the positive impact you have had with previous companies. After all, the entire point of a job requirement is to ensure consistent results. If the hiring manager believes you can achieve those results, they may be more willing to waive the absent requirements. Be prepared to show specific accomplishments in your career history that align with what the employer is looking for, and use quantitative data as proof of those accomplishments.

Related: How to Create a Results-oriented Resume

Make your story interesting

To make your cover letter stand out, include your story. Underneath the training and education, what makes a candidate memorable is often where they're coming from and where they're going. For example, you could explain your long-term goals in your resume's summary or objective statement. You could also use your cover letter to convey how your employment history has prepared you for this new opportunity in a unique way. If the hiring manager senses that you may bring something fresh to the position, they just might contact you for an interview.

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