Sometimes your job hunt leads you to the perfect role…that just happens to be above your level. Maybe it calls for one or two skills that you don’t have yet, or you believe the knowledge of a field makes up for a lack of experience. If you sincerely think it’d be a great opportunity, you’re free to treat the listed requirements as guidelines and plough ahead regardless…but here’s what you need to keep in mind:

Consider carefully

Before deciding to apply, you need to consider whether you can really perform at a job you’re not qualified for. If the role is way out of your league, you might still get the job but then find yourself utterly unable to do it.

Job descriptions as given in ads rarely cover every aspect of what the role entails and so you could be applying to take on a lot more than you anticipated. You don’t want to jump through hoops for a job only to find yourself out of work again in a couple of months, so make sure you know what you’re doing.

Fine tune your application

Let’s say you want to apply for a job that calls for five years of experience, when you have only three. What you need to do then is make your case that your background is in-depth and at a high enough level enough to qualify you for the job. Even if you describe what your experience in the field involves, the recruiter won’t necessarily come to the conclusion that your skillset qualifies you. You have to help them join the dots there.

That’s why you can’t really just put out a generic cover letter; for a role that doesn’t seem a natural fit, craft one that goes into depth and detail, connecting your experience and skills to those called for. Emphasise transferable skills such as the ability to sell, create and present reports or form strong bonds with clients and colleagues.

It will also help to acknowledge that the role appears to be above your station in order to make it clear you’re not wasting the employer’s time by applying, but rather that you’re serious about your prospects.

Another thing you should be certain to do is spell out how employing you can benefit the company – so they’re not taking a chance on you, but would actually be making a big mistake in turning you down. What can you offer that a generic candidate couldn’t?

Reach out

The last thing you want is for someone to see your application and instantly throw it out because they can see you don’t have the experience called for. You can avoid this by actually getting in touch with someone at the company ahead of time. Making your case directly to the hiring manager will make them consider it more carefully.

You can reach out to the manager of the department you’re applying to, or a recruitment specialist, through LinkedIn or email, and explain why it makes sense to employ you – despite the fact they’d normally employ someone of a higher calibre.

If you can spare the time to put together an application that makes a strong case for offering you the role, it’s something that’s really worth doing. After all, the worst that can happen is that you don’t hear anything back, but by not applying you could be seriously missing out.

Do you have any more tricks for getting your foot in the door in an elevated role? Share them in the comments.

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