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How to Address Missing Qualifications in a Cover Letter

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Even if you don’t have every qualification listed in a job ad, you can still make a case for how you’re a good fit for the position. Some employers list dozens of desired skills, education or other qualities, but only require a few. By focusing on the qualifications you do have, you can craft a cover letter that holds its own next to applications from more qualified candidates.

Focus on Strengths

If you have any of the qualifications mentioned in the ad, focus on those instead of on the ones you lack. Many employers list the most important qualifications first, so if you possess any of those, showcase them in your cover letter. Offer as much detail as you can illustrating these skills. Include anecdotes that describe both how you have used these talents at previous jobs and the outcome. If you make a compelling case for even one or two qualifications, an employer might overlook the rest.

Highlight Transferable Skills

While you may not have the specific degree listed or extensive experience with a certain computer program, manufacturing method or other tool, you likely have skills and experience that can transfer to any job. Many employers, for example, list good communication skills or a team-player attitude as crucial to the job. Also, you might have experience that is related to what the employer wants but not a perfect match. Play up these transferable skills by describing how you have used them successfully at other jobs and how you will apply them to the position you are seeking.

Stress Adaptability

Employers might not consider missing qualifications a drawback if you can persuade them you are a quick learner willing to master the additional skills. If the ad lists a degree, certification or license, state that you’re committed to pursuing this credential. If the employer wants experience with specific software or technology, state that you will take seminars, workshops or other training to learn it. Back this up with evidence that you are a quick study. For example, note that at your last job you got up to speed in only a couple of weeks.

Address the Employer’s Needs

Research the company to uncover its needs, challenges or plans. Conduct an Internet search, read news articles and find people connected to the company you can talk to. Describe how you can use your skills to contribute to the company’s specific situation. For example, if you discover the company’s sales are down, discuss how you increased sales at your last job by 15 percent. Outline a plan for how you will do the same for your prospective employer.

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