Hallway Studio

August 24, 2015

After graduate school I was having a tough time finding a job. I was getting rejected for jobs I thought I was qualified for. Then I came across a fellowship opportunity at the Smithsonian and I really wanted it but I didn’t think they would ever choose me.

My mom answer was to “make them tell you no.” She didn’t want me to limit my opportunities. I went ahead and gave it my best shot and I was chosen.

I sometimes look at conference calls for participation and wonder if I should try. Then I remember my mom’s advice and give it a go. It’s worth it to take the risk, you never know what will happen if you remove the things holding you down.

When over a thousand professionals were asked “If you decided not to apply for a job because you didn’t meet all the qualifications, why didn’t you apply?” 41% of women and 46% of men chose “I didn’t think they would hire me since I didn’t meet the qualifications, and I didn’t want to waste my time and energy.”

”They thought that the required qualifications were…well, required qualifications. They didn’t see the hiring process as one where advocacy, relationships, or a creative approach to framing one’s expertise could overcome not having the skills and experiences outlined in the job qualifications.

Tara Sophia Mohr, Harvard Business Review 

My experience with hiring is that job descriptions are not accurate. Some hiring managers list out everything they want and no real person exists that can check every requirement off. Other companies use generic job descriptions that don’t describe what they are really looking for. I’ve also had well-meaning HR folks at previous companies re-write my job postings to meet their internal rules and the result is something that makes no sense.

Mohr’s advice to be creative in framing your experience and my mom’s on taking risks is worth listening to.

Image: A blue sky over Boone, North Carolina




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