Don’t Limit Yourself

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So you like science and English? Math and drawing? Good for you! When we were in grade school, you weren’t limited to one subject area and could be talented at all of them.

If you’re applying for a new job, that’s the spirit you should be mimicking, now, as an adult. Instead of only applying for the positions that you would be “perfect” for, apply for ones that interest you or are in a field you want to explore. In this job market, no one should fault you for being flexible (and if they do, you probably don’t want to work for them anyway).

From my experience and the stories of friends, most people who are “perfect” for the position don’t get called for an interview because they may perfectly fit the job description, but not the unsaid requirements or expectations.

For an example, a former mathematician think tank employee applied for an academic advising position in the math department of a community college. The description indicated they were looking for someone with extensive customer service experience, of which he had none. However, he fit most of the other requirements. He touted his background and the unique perspective it gives him in his cover letter. What he brought to the perfect position for someone else was exactly what the community college was looking for in a candidate. After an excellent interview, they offered him the job and he’s never been happier.

In 2010, it rarely costs even postage to apply for a position. Casting a wide net is practically free. If you are looking, unemployed or underemployed, there is no reason you shouldn’t at least consider applying for a new position in a field of interest.

Limits are for the hiring manager, not for the applicant. If the hiring manager doesn’t like you or think you’re qualified, she’ll put your application in the circular file or delete the email. But after reading your cover letter and explanation of why you are interested in the open position, they might be willing to seriously consider you for the job.