Smile. . . You’re Underqualified

What To Do When You Are Underqualified For The Position

… under-qualified… or at least you feel like you are. I mean why else would you not have received the position right.


Hearing the news


You’ve had the interview, heard the call, received the email, and opened that letter. Finally you hear, in oh so many words:


Thank you for your interest in While your skills and abilities are very impressive We have decided to pursue other candidates Blah, blah, blah


You pause. Brace yourself for whatever reaction you may not be ready for yourself. Your eyes may kind of well-up. Yet you’re strong. You’ve been here before. You will move on, you will continue.


Regardless of the point in your life or how you may have heard the news, we all can relate. Every job seeker, fresh college grad, long/short-term contract employee, and/or the unemployed generational ____________ (place any trendy term here) has been through it.


Weâ’re all in the same boat


While you need to stick to who you are, focus your resume, skills and core competencies in this very tight and tunnel visioned market; you also need to be flexible to the changes that you may face. It does not matter what point you are in your life or career. What age or experience you have. You, me, we, they are all in the same boat.


That was the position I was meant for. I was perfect.


It doesn’t matter there are a thousand other people that feel the exact same way you do. Question is, what are you gonna do about it?


Unemployment isn’t cutting it (where applicable).


Will it ever? Let’s face it. You’re starting to get bored with the routine. Getting up and looking at the aggregate engines at 1pm. Annoyed with adjusting and re-adjusting your resume. You create and revamp the revamp of your top companies. Making calls to contacts, and contacting contacts of contacts. Heading out to the new, used, and slightly over worn network meetings. It’s a typical feeling but keep at it! Sometimes the only thing that can keep you motivated is the routine. At least you are meeting great people and you are not dead yet!


You can tell a lot about the character of a person by how they treat those who can do nothing for them.


Experience still matters


We all have experience whether it is 10-20 years or 1-6 years. The thing is that you, now more than ever, have to articulate specific skills to the specific job that you will be good at and that can also translate for the employer. You have to be quick, concise and to the point while showing you are better than the rest. Above all you have to help them understand on paper, phone and in-person; why you should be selected over everyone else. If you don’t know something, take the time to learn about and practice it. There’s light at the end of the tunnel.


Or you could just look on the job boards, click send and pray.


Are you in this situation? Tell me what your routine is, how you have approached it in your past, or any recommendations or advice you would give?




Vote for Benjamin McCall’s post by leaving a comment to help Ben win the Job Search Blogger contest and win a $100 gift card.  Voting ends Monday, May 10th.


Benjamin McCall is an HR practitioner with specializations in Change Management, Communications, OD, and Learning & Development. His passion for aligning the functions of HR with the strategies of business is evident through his blog where he writes about management, leadership, networking and his love for family and golf! Follow him on Twitter: @BenjaminMcCall

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.

Reader Interactions


  1. Judi says

    You can tell a lot about the character of a person by how they treat those who can do nothing for them.

    Fabulous phrase in a phabulous post!

  2. Pooh says

    Best one. Well done. Kept my interest to the end.

    Hoping this one wins! First Class! Fantastic!!!

  3. Terra Thornton says

    My vote goes to @BenjaminMcCall!!!

    Ben is always providing great HR advice, a little humor, and sometimes a much needed reality check throughout the week.

    Thanks Ben for sharing your experience with us!


  4. Crystal Christner says

    Your article was great and very timely. I am going through the same thing myself in my own jobsearch…

  5. Dave says

    Excellent advice Ben! It is great to see encouragement, strategy and coaching for those still working to break the mold:
    – Be Different
    – Be Flexible
    – Be Persistent

    Go Ben!


  1. […] 37. Blogging4jobs – “All too often career experts are providing the safe and cook cutter answers to the job search,” writes Jessica Miller-Merrell, the site’s main author. “In this competitive market, being cookie cutter no longer gets you noticed by hiring managers or recruiters. [Our] site seeks to provide job seekers a realistic point of view about their job search and feedback on how they can improve.” Her advice for job seekers, which can also be applied to those who are currently employed, is to “consider themselves brands and evaluate how, when, why, and if they are reaching their target audience…The market is extremely competitive. Their target audience should be recruiters, HR professionals, and hiring managers. The best case scenario is for job seekers to start building their brand before they are in the market for a job no less than 6 months prior.” Recommended posts: “Beyond Niche Networking” and “Smile…You’re Underqualified.” […]


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