Should I Even Apply?

An opportunity catches your eye, but your inner critic comes up with a long list of reasons why you aren’t qualified. You wonder…

 “Am I qualified? Maybe I am? No, I’m probably not, but what if I apply anyway? What if I apply and don’t get it? What if I just wait for something else.”

Sound familiar?

This inner dialogue does absolutely nothing to get you closer to where you want to be — or to what you seek to do. What began as an eye catching opportunity quickly becomes an IMPOSSIBILITY!

To help you determine if you should apply to an opportunity, consider if some of the following positive indicators are present:

  • When reading through the opportunity description you notice action verbs that also appear in the bullet point statements on your résumé or CV.
  • As you read the description you find yourself saying, “I’ve done some of this.” Or, “Some of this is very familiar to me and I know I can do it.”
  • If qualifications and/or responsibilities are mentioned, you find that you can readily come up with examples showing how you have developed the desired skills or acquired the experiences and knowledge for much of what is listed. It is not necessary to be able to do everything listed! In fact, it is rare for a candidate to satisfy all of the requirements.
  • When exploring the company’s or organization’s website you see connections between what they do or seek and what you can do or provide.
  • While reviewing the website your interest in the company or organization increases.

After taking a few minutes to explore your fit, if you have shifted your self-doubt to a sense of possibility, try writing a cover letter for the opportunity. If the cover letter is relatively easy to write, especially in terms of showing, through examples, your abilities and qualifications in relationship to the specifics of the opportunity, then that is a pretty good indicator that you can (and should) apply.

But don’t stop there!

Add this company or organization to a list of entities of interest to you. In the career development field we call this a “target list.” If you have a LinkedIn account then consider following the companies and organizations on your target list. Additionally, you will want to see if alumni from your current and previous institutions are working at any of the entities on your list. Connect with individuals of interest and reach out to learn more about their career pathways. Your connections will likely have insights to share as you explore options and opportunities.

By taking time to carefully assess your fit, you might decide to apply to an opportunity, to add a company or organization to your target list, or to cultivate connections. Taking one or more of these action steps will undoubtedly be of value.




By Kay Kimball Gruder
Kay Kimball Gruder Associate Director, Graduate Student & Postdoc Career Programs and Services | Pronouns: she/her/hers