You have got the the job that you’ve always dreamed of – either through a prospective application or the so-called ‘Vitamin C’ (connections). However, there is only one problem: you are under-qualified for it! What can you do now?

Admittedly, such a situation is rare. In fact, about 15% of all applicants in Germany & elsewhere are under-qualified for their new role. But, in the case of a positive outcome, the chemistry can already work in your favour, which is valued above and beyond one’s competences. Perhaps, you had demonstrated leadership, software, language or computer skills better than the other candidates. When a job offer is made, rest assured that the company requires precisely those competencies from you that you already demonstrated. Here are a few tips to bolster your confidence in your new role:

Preserve self-confidence

Nelson Mandela and Donald Trump made it clear that despite their backgrounds as lawyers and managers, they suddenly slipped into the position of the Heads of State, for which they were totally unprepared for from their previous careers. These politicians give an impression of how strategic skills could be acquired in a newly  leadership position – step up as a team-oriented new boss, who would like to consider the competences of the employees in the sense of a productive continuity. Nevertheless, you need to familiarise yourself with the new situation & if necessary, hire competent persons you trust from your own professional network. Be aware of the gaps in your experience. Otherwise, your employees could create you problems that work against you.

Train, train, train

The first weeks can help you make a good impression. This is especially true if you are not on a more senior level. Use the limited time to work diligently and tirelessly into the subject on the basis of the expert advice. If there is a lack of knowledge, work during the evenings to fill those gaps. If necessary, enlist your colleagues & supervisors to help you get up to speed. Note, however, that the willingness of your colleagues & supervisors to hand hold you will slowly start to decrease after some time. From this moment onwards, it will be perceived as disrespectful, if you are not making your own decisions or running those activities expected of you. As a result, you should be able to take the helm as quickly as you can.

Apply the cross-starter principle

It has been long established as part of our modern day culture of the working that flexibility and constant professional development are required for career success. While it was customary in previous decades to stick to one’s vocation that one acquired up to retirement, today, job requirements mandate that one engages in constant ongoing learning & professional development. The basic competences that one learned at the university or through some other form of training are no longer adequate to build professional profiles that showcase the desired competences required in today’s fast-changing job market. Skills acquired from previous professions & vocations are indispensable to get you started, but for a serious and qualified professional development, further competences & well-founded approaches to creativity, communication, solution-oriented thinking, and willingness to take up responsibility are required; these skills need to be gradually developed. To best apply the cross-starter principle, take advantage of the skill development & learning activities offered by your organisation or engage in private education to transfer your methodical, analytical, or creative approach to the new tasks.

Allow yourself a chance

Ask yourself whether the salesmen or politicians are they remotely familiar with their subject matter. Perhaps they had just been promoted to a new department or freshly recruited, so that the knowledge gaps will still be noticeable. So, think positively about the new challenge. At the beginning, you may be under-qualified. But: Give yourself the chance not to stay so for long. Every new company and every new job requires a certain amount of time to ramp up before your competencies are really put to test. Close the knowledge gaps as quickly as possible. All of this is a question of professional experience and your willingness to deal seriously with the new tasks & responsibilities.


Expose your skills gap

Download our free tool to evaluate your skill gaps in a structured manner

Finding your skill gaps, either during or after the job application process, in a structured manner could be challenging. Download the Xpose tool to compare your skills against those expected by the organisation you are applying (or have applied) to.