Want the Job? Don’t Sell Yourself Short

So you hear about a great job opening and feel excited, until you read the job description. It’s a long list and you lack some of the requirements. What should you do? Apply even if you don’t think you qualify, nursing experts say. Experience, relatable accomplishments, attitude, and referrals may trump how underqualified you are.

Don’t assume you need to meet 100% of the requirements, advises Al Rundio, PhD, DNP, RN, APRN, CARN-AP, NEA-BC, associate dean at Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions.

Rundio knows.

Marketing Yourself

“I was managing a city-division emergency department as a nurse and they were looking for a director of utilization review,” he recalls. “I couldn’t tell you what utilization review even was, but I applied for the job and got it because of my management experience. I learned from doing the job and that helped me move on up the ranks in that department.”

Rundio says his can-do attitude made him stand out.

“They knew what I had done and they knew I could learn and was open to change. And I had the willingness to do it. I think that was three-fourths of the battle.”

Bruce Hurwitz, an executive recruiter, president, and chief executive of Hurwitz Strategic Staffing Ltd., generally advises against applying for a job when unqualified because the higher rejection rate “will cause frustration and depression.”

If you decide to try to land the job anyway, he offers more advice: “Do not use the phrase ‘transferable skills,’ which means, ‘I'm not qualified for the job, but do me a favor and consider me anyway,’’’ he says. “The phrase to use is ‘transferrable accomplishments,’ and then list something you have done which will make the employer say, ‘I want her to work for me!’”

Gender Differences

It’s also possible that your gender plays a role in whether you apply for a job out of your reach. A Wall Street Journal article last year included an interesting statistic from a company’s internal report. The report found the female employees applied for a job only when they met all the criteria. But the male employees applied when they met 60% of the qualifications.

“In my 30-plus years of working with college students, at five different schools, I have definitely seen this pattern,” says Nancy Davis Griffin, associate dean for Enrollment Management & Student Affairs at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing.  

“I am always surprised that many men who are graduating with an undergraduate degree will apply for positions that are above entry level, [such as] director positions, etc. and women tend to only apply for the entry-level positions,” says Griffin, who has not observed this pattern at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing. “Almost all of the accelerated BSN students (male and female) apply for entry-level nursing positions,” she says. 

Quality knows no gender, and neither should ambition. If you want a great job, the first requirement is to apply.


Robin Farmer is a freelance journalist with a focus on health, business and education. Visit her at RobinFarmerWrites.com.

2 comments

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