How to Stand Out on Your Job Application – Even if You’re Under-Qualified

I’ve been job hunting for many months now, but so many of the jobs I’m interested in I’m not quite qualified for. There are always a few qualifications or experiences I don’t have. Should I apply for these jobs anyway? How can I stand out even though I’m under-qualified? – Fabiola in Vancouver, BC


Fabiola, first, you should absolutely apply for these jobs. As long as you meet at least half of the criteria, you should give it a shot. Remember, if you don’t ask, you won’t get. In other words, when you are interested in a position, ask for it. This is something women, in particular, can learn. Most men will apply for a job even if they meet only 60% of the criteria, but women tend to apply only when they meet 100% of the requirements. Why are women so reluctant to apply for jobs unless they meet all of the criteria? Women, be confident and apply anyway. It doesn’t hurt to try!

Apply for the job and indicate your genuine enthusiastic interest. Many positions use boiler-plate qualifications that do not accurately represent all of the factors to be considered when hiring. Both the organization and the affected individuals want the candidate who best fits the culture, team, and abilities required to perform in the position. Each asset is weighted. You may have the exact skills and mindset the hiring manager is seeking, so apply for the position. If the organization is interested, they may interview for other positions as well. It’s an opportunity for you to establish a relationship with the company’s hiring manager and learn about their application process.

Ask Lynn - Under-Qualified

Now, if you want to make sure you stand out – even when you’re a little under-qualified – here are some things you can do to. These will make it even likelier that you’ll get an interview.

Elevator Pitch Video:

Prepare an elevator pitch pertinent to the company and position. Why are you an outstanding candidate, and how would you be an asset to the organization? Make those answers clear in your pitch, which should be 30 to 60 seconds long. Film your pitch and post it as an unlisted video on YouTube or another platform for sharing the pitch. The link to the pitch should appear prominently on your resume below your name. Embed the link in a bold call-to-action, such as: “Discover why I am the best candidate for X Position at Y Company.”

Online Portfolio Video:

Create a portfolio pitch deck. Using powerpoint, keynote, or a similar presentation software, make a presentation with no more than 10 slides. When it’s done, convert it into a movie with music. The movie should last 2 to 3 minutes and feature your achievement highlights: how you added value and had an impact in previous positions or your current job. This should be a high-level bullet-point format, brief and to the point. If the information is powerful and easy to grasp, it will result in the hiring manger wanting to know more. Once again, you can post as an unlisted video on YouTube or use a similar platform to share the portfolio presentation.


Tailor your resume to credibly demonstrate the transferable skills and experience that will establish your ability to shine in the position and in the company. Clearly and concisely illustrate the situations or tasks, with the subsequent actions you took and results you achieved. Connect these back to the position and organization for which you are applying. Make it clear how you will apply key learnings and intent of purpose to the job and the company’s initiatives.

Fabiola, adding these to your applications will help you stand out from the crowd. Just make sure you do apply! You’ll be getting interviews – and a new job – in no time! Good luck!

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