A client of mine recently discovered an exciting position and immediately said to me, “I want to apply for this.”
We worked together to polish up her resume, pull together a cover letter, and come up with a set of strong responses to frequently asked interview questions. But as we moved along through the process, I sensed her initial excitement waning. She seemed nervous, quiet, and hesitant about taking the next steps. Something was “off.”
“Do you really want to go after this job?” I asked, “Because it’s completely OK if you’ve changed your mind.”
She responded, “No, I still really want to apply for the job. But I’m realizing that it’s kind of above my experience level and I’m not sure I really have anything to offer.”
Ah. Now, I realized, we’re getting to the crux of the issue. And it’s a common one. Whether you’re a new graduate, you’re switching fields, or you’re reaching high for that next step up the ladder, it can be easy to think that you’re less valuable, less worthy, or flat-out unqualified for the job you want. Sometimes, you might be right. But other times you’re actually incorrect.
Here are four reasons why you might be dead wrong about having have “nothing to offer” your dream company (or your dream client, dream mentor, dream anything, really).
1. You Have Passion
Danielle LaPorte, CEO of a seven-figure lifestyle brand and a former Washington DC-based think tank director who consulted with the Pentagon (and who, incidentally, never went to college), once said: “Your passion is your qualification. It’s your leading qualification.”
If you’re genuinely, enthusiastically passionate about your chosen field, a particular company, or a specific job, that passion is a highly valuable (and rare) characteristic.
Passion ensures that you’ll work harder than everyone else. Passion ensures that you will burn the midnight oil, when necessary, to master new skills and get the job done right. Passion means that you’ll ignite your co-workers and inspire them to bring their best ideas to work, too.
If a potential employer sees true passion in you? That’s worth more than gold. Show it off in your cover letter by writing about what attracted you to the company—and what excites you so much about its mission.
2. You Have Fresh Ideas
You’d be surprised by how many “successful companies” are actually wasting tons of time, money, and other resources because they’re stuck in the “old ways” of doing things. Old routines. Old systems. Old policies that don’t even make sense anymore.
As an “inexperienced” newcomer, you might discover something that could (obviously!) be improved quite easily, or you might say something that 100 other employees have become blind to or never bothered to mention. Simply by bringing a fresh pair of eyes to the table, you’re bringing real value.
The fastest way to prove this to a hiring manager is to substitute your cover letter for a pain letter. It proves you understand the company, get where it’s going, and already have a plan on how to make sure it reaches its destination.
3. You Can Adapt Quickly
Learning new technology, adjusting to new demands, and wrangling new tasks? No sweat. As someone living in 2015, adaptability’s practically wired into your DNA. It’s more likely that you’ve got an attitude of, “Ooh, what’s next?” rather than “Groan, what’s next?”
The best way to demonstrate this is by making sure that you’re up-to-date on all the latest and greatest skills needed in your industry—and in addition to that, they’re clearly stated on your resume.
4. You Have Real Skills
Contrary to what you might think, you do have real, solid, marketable skills.
That fashion blog you’ve been tinkering with since high school? It’s given you strong writing and communication skills, and probably insights into personal branding, too. And that summer job you had as a youth camp counselor? You now have the ability to speak confidently in front of an audience and grip distracted people’s attention (a rare skill!).
I’ve used all the skills I learned as a lawyer throughout my many careers. For example, when I started a nonprofit, I was able to utilize my negotiating skills to woo donors and raise money. The business skills I picked up at my bakery came in handy when I launched my floral and garden design business. And today I use my entire skill set to help my clients land great jobs, start cool businesses, and get big projects in motion.
Take a stroll back through your passion projects, volunteer gigs, paid jobs, and studies, and consider every experience in terms of the real-world skills you gained, not just what your “official job title” happened to be. Then read this on how to transfer all those skills to your resume.
For all of these reasons, and so many more, you’ve got a lot to offer your dream company. Yes, even if you are comparatively “young” or “inexperienced” in your field. Age, hard-won wisdom, and the “seasoning” that comes with lived experience are wonderful. (As a woman in my fifth decade of life, I know).
But “experience” isn’t everything. You’ve got plenty to offer right here, right now. So reach high and go after the position you want. Maybe you’ll get it. Maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll be considered for a different job later down the line. Maybe you’ll be offered something better than you even expected! No matter what the outcome may be, never tell yourself, for a moment, that you’re “not valuable” or have “nothing to offer.”
It’s just not true.