07/03/2013 12:52 pm ET Updated Sep 02, 2013

Applying for a Job When You Don't Have the Right Qualifications

Many employers shy away from job seekers who don't have the right qualifications for a job. In fact, a recent survey indicated that 35 percent of employers report difficulties in finding employees with the right skills. You probably want to stay away from job openings that you aren't qualified for, too... right?

Well, sort of.

Here's the thing: Many employers require a certain number of years of experience or would like for you to have a certain degree. However, if you're stellar in other areas, your lack of qualifications may not be a problem.

Let's look at some ways you can apply for a job when you don't have the right qualifications.

Showcase your accomplishments

Your accomplishments are essentially the evidence you have to back up your work history. So, even if you haven't met the exact requirements of the job description, you can still apply for the job and list your relatable accomplishments.

For instance, let's say a web design job calls for five years of experience and you only have two. However, in those two years, you've managed to improve web traffic, enhance user experience, and landed clients for your team. Even though you may not have the exact amount of years of experience, you can prove you have knowledge beyond your years, which is the most important aspect in the end.

Emphasize your transferrable skills

Transferrable skills are important for a couple of reasons. These skills are useful in multiple departments, or projects, or even work situations. Transferrable skills essentially mean you can work on varying tasks or work with different teams without a skills gap. In addition, because you may know many skills, you're worth more than a candidate who has a limited knowledge base.

You can show off your transferrable skills in a couple ways. You can simply list your skills on your resume, but you may also want to note your transferrable skills on your summary statement on LinkedIn or through other social platforms. You should also note how you used these transferable skills so the employer can see your level of knowledge.

Get a referral

Referrals are often linked as the number one source of hire. So, even if you don't have the right qualifications, if a mutual connection can vouch for you, you have an even better chance at getting an "in" with the organization.

Here's how to get one: Be sure you actually have a relationship with the potential referrer instead of just blindly asking for a favor. You should also inform the referral as to why you're right the job in the first place, such as your level of expertise or your knowledge base. They can then relay this to the employer. Lastly, be sure to follow-up with the referral so they can keep you in the loop. The combination of the above will greatly improve your chances.

Think outside the box

Sometimes, you just have to bold and showcase your skills. Many HR managers receive a ton of applications, many of which are unqualified for the position. Instead, if you want to showcase the skills you do have, use them accordingly. For instance, send a unique cover letter or video introduction which helps you to showcase your knowledge in a creative way. You can even send your resume via traditional mail, which can help you to stand out from other candidates who use electronic methods.

In addition, you can try other methods to land a job. For example, there's nothing wrong with working as an intern on a project basis for six months to showcase your abilities before taking the job full-time. When it comes down to it, you really have nothing to lose. Plus, you never know--even if the company can't hire you for this particular job, they may have other opportunities available. So, be brave and just do it!

Applying for a job when you don't have the right qualifications may not be the most ideal situation, but taking the above steps into consideration will improve your chances of landing the gig.

What do you think? What are some other ways to apply for a job when you don't have the right qualifications?

Lynn Dixon is the co-founder and COO of, an employment network that quickly matches people who are interested in flexible positions with the right opportunities. Connect with Lynn and Hourly on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.