Have you ever seen a mid-level or even entry-level job listings looking for applicants with 5+ years of experience in a given field and a second or third degree, and not to mention 15 other miscellaneous requirements that may or may not be imperative to the job? Yeah, we all have.

Whether you’re a recent graduate or simply inexperienced in the field you’d like to pursue, you may come across dream jobs in your search, but simply don’t feel qualified enough to go for them. Should you take the chance and apply, or save yourself a few hours (and possibly embarrassment) and just skip it?

There are a few steps to take in order to determine whether or not you should apply – and how to land the job if you do.

  1. Determine just how unqualified you really are

If the job ad calls for 5+ years of experience in a field and you have less than one, you may want to reconsider sending in your application. Unless you are equipped with a ton of related experience or extra education, the large discrepancy between your experience and the requirement will almost definitely disqualify your resume in an initial screening. If you find yourself in this position but are still passionate about the opportunity, don’t be afraid to reach out to the HR department or another contact within the company to inquire about other potential opportunities that require less experience.

That being said, your mere lack of proficiency in Excel won’t send your resume to the bottom of the pile. Don’t let the little things trip you up – sometimes job descriptions aren’t even written by the hiring manager, and small details may not matter much to him or her, so pay attention to the big stuff and consider how your experience is relevant.

  1. Highlight your qualifications

So, you’re applying to work at a veterinarian’s office, but you’ve never worked in a professional setting with dogs, which just happens to be one of the requirements listed on the job ad. However, you’ve been a dog walker for 10 years and have been raising your own (well-trained) dog since it was a puppy. Find a way to highlight these experiences either in your resume or cover letter to let the hiring manager understand your extensive background – even if it’s not exactly what they’re initially looking for.

  1. But don’t point out what you’re missing

Starting off your cover letter with, “While I have never worked in any professional setting with canines…” is a sure way to send your application to the trash can. While applying for a position, you should never mention your lack of experience or qualifications, or point out any negative aspects of who you are as a potential employee. Keep everything positive, so the hiring manager automatically views you in a positive light.

  1. Get networking

Is there anyone connected with or within the company that could vouch for your qualifications? In many cases, a good word from a respected coworker is worth more than any resume or cover letter you could write. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – believe us, it pays off.

  1. Write a Pain Letter

Yes, a real, handwritten letter – those still exist. Instead of writing a cover letter addressed to the hiring manager, you may want to consider writing a Pain Letter, which discusses a business problem of the hiring manager’s. Pain Letters catch hiring managers’ attention more than cover letters because it’s about them and their problem (which every hiring manager is sure to have). In your Pain Letter, be sure to discuss a time when you solved a problem similar to this hiring manager’s pain – and don’t forget to prove it with a resume outlining your experiences.
Finding jobs that don’t require years of experience can be difficult, as hiring managers can often be a little optimistic about the potential applicants’ experiences. Overall, you shouldn’t be afraid to take a leap of faith and apply for that job – unless you’re a little too unqualified. Regardless of what level job you’re looking for, Rake can help you find a new opportunity to get excited about! Download the app here.