Am I perfectly qualified for this?
Being “perfectly” qualified, to clarify, is a bit of a misnomer. It doesn’t mean you’re not going to screw up. It means you’re in that sweet spot where you don’t feel like an imposter yet still have some room for growth. These are clear signs you’re there.
When someone recommends you, they’re taking a risk–fail to live up to their praises and their own neck and reputation are on the line. So if someone throws your name into the ring, it’s a demonstration of full trust in your ability to handle whatever responsibilities might be involved. By the same token, if people come to you for advice, they’re trusting that you can be a reliable source and have the level of expertise they need to move forward.
Even the sagest leaders recognize the importance of being lifelong learners. But newbies or less qualified individuals typically don’t as much experience and subject matter knowledge, which makes it more likely that they will hang back and listen more in conversations.
If you’re jumping right into talks, are contributing a reasonable level value to them without feeling at all anxious, and are still coming away having learned something, then you likely are on pace with the intelligence and skills of the others in the group.
Most companies put out ideal “wish list” postings and understand that finding the perfect candidate is the exception rather than the rule. So if you are looking at positions or types of work and find that you’re short by just one or two points, consider yourself in great shape, especially if you’ve got other points not on the list that would be beneficial. You likely still can get started and acquire what you lack as you go.
It’s incredibly common for people to be working in one area but doing fun projects on the side. Those projects might not have earned you cash, but they still can involve transferable skills that are relevant to the position or industry you’re interested in. So when you’re trying to determine fit, make sure you’re looking at your entire day, not just office hours.
Soft skills include not only the ability to empathize and communicate well with others, but also points like dependability and time management. These are the skills you learn through interaction and life, not through books, classes or training.
A Harris poll of more than 2,000 adults showed that 75 percent of Americans would hire candidates who have soft skills but not the right experience. So if, for example, you don’t know technical skill x or y but are a creative team player with an outstanding work ethic, just as with side gigs and hobbies, you’re balancing yourself out to stay in the running.
Often, if you are overqualified for something, people will try to dissuade you with encouragement, recommending options that might seem scary to you. If you’re underqualified, by contrast, they might respond with awkward looks and silences before trying to maintain a semblance of politeness by wishing you a generic “Good luck!”. If you’re in the perfectly qualified sweet spot, though, they’ll reinforce your decision with enthusiasm. They’ll ask unprompted questions to learn more, provide support and request that you keep them updated.
Originally Published on Inc.
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