Why It’s Good To Apply For Jobs That You Think You Can’t Get

I’ve been applying for jobs lately, because that’s what I do every time I get disgruntled at work. I don’t actually WANT a new job, I just like applying for jobs because it makes me feel like I have options. Which makes me feel less trapped. Which inevitably reminds me that my job is not so bad.

Realistically, something would have to be a big step up from where I am to lure me away, so I only apply for jobs that are out of my league. This is a great strategy for cathartic job hunting because you get to fantasize about having a swanky new job, and since the odds of hearing back are relatively low you’ll probably never have to explain that you applied “just for fun”.

So I find a job that’s a little out of my league, I tailor my resume so it doesn’t look like it’s THAT far out of my league, I apply, and then I sit around feeling proud of myself for being so proactive about my future. Significantly more proud than I deserve to feel for doing something that is part of normal adult life.

But I actually think that this is a good strategy for job hunting in general (minus the excessive self-congratulation), because applying for jobs that are a little out of your league is a great way to advance your career and create opportunities for yourself. If you apply, the absolute worst that can happen is that you don’t get the job. The best that can happen is that you get the job. And then you’ll have a sweet new job. If you don’t apply for the job then you definitely won’t get the job.

Seems like a no brainer to me.

Just to be clear, I’m not suggesting that you misrepresent yourself or be dishonest in any way. But you should do your best to show how the skills that you DO have make you a good fit for the job. Then leave it up to the employers to decide if you’re qualified.

My editor (ok fine, my sister. I always call her my “editor” because I think it makes my blog sound fancy. But now you all know the truth… my blog is not fancy) told me that I should address the concern that you might get the job and then fail miserably because you were underqualified. This honestly never occurred to me, which might be further evidence that I’m a narcissist. But regardless, I don’t think this is something you should worry about because if you’ve managed to convince your future employers that you can do the job, it probably means that you can do the job.

Or at least that you’ll be able to figure it out as you go.

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2 Comments on “Why It’s Good To Apply For Jobs That You Think You Can’t Get”

  1. Great idea. I’ll have to curb my urge to apply for a job for which I am absolutely not qualified. A university hospital needs a neurosurgeon. I’m not a doctor. But I watch Grey’s and hey, it’s close by so . . . seems like a good job. Sigh. Okay, I won’t take it that far. But applying for a job for which I have some of the qualifications? Why not? You just never know. Someone may remember me for something else that opens up later.

  2. Interesting technique for handling job disgruntlement, Emily. I love how clear you are on not actually wanting another job and using this simply as a method for working through rough times.

    Regarding using this method for applying for jobs in general, I look at it a lot like the college application process – apply for some “safeties,” some “targets,” and some “reaches.” Then let the HR/hiring people decide if you’re a good fit. If you have unlimited time, then cut out the “safeties” when applying; they’ll likely leave you dissatisfied anyway.


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