• Brett N. Axler

Feel Underqualified for that Job Posting? Apply For It

Casually browsing through job postings, you come across an amazing opportunity. The job description is your perfect day of work, it’s at a company you’ve always dreamed of being a part of and you know it would be an amazing step-up from what you’re doing now. You read the job requirements, and all hope is quickly lost, you’re underqualified. What do you do? Apply for it

While attending college in Philadelphia, I spent most of my time outside of the classroom freelancing around the city. Concerts, sporting events, DJing at bars, I couldn’t sit still. My average week was seriously more than 80 hours and I loved every second of it. My eyes were always set on the same goal, have a full-time job as the technical director of a venue before I graduated. Most of my work through high school and the beginning of college had been in technical theater, video production, and concerts. I had spent plenty of time as a technical director in various theaters and small venues but I dreamed of landing a position managing a stadium or arena. At the time, I was already freelancing in the local arenas and stadiums, running microphones or carrying batteries, but I didn’t complain, I knew I had to put my time in. My plan was to network with as many sport and concert venues as I could in the area until I found an open position for a full-time tech role.

Based on the career paths of most of the professionals I was surrounded by at the time, I figured that I would start as a tech or video editor, an entry-level position in the broadcast department in order to gain experience. After a few years full time, I would hope to have enough experience to land a technical director roll in one of the college arenas and work my way up from there.

During my senior year of college, I was working for a large sports bar and event complex in South Philadelphia while freelancing for the sports teams. The complex was owned by a private company but operated in part by the same Comcast subsidiary as the local stadiums. By that point, I knew most of the sports broadcast departments in the venues around the city, and for better or worse, they all knew me and what my goals were. One day at work, a coworker handed me a job posting for a new arena that our parent company had won the contract to operate. The posting was for the Audio Visual and Information Technology Manager on the opening team of the arena. I took a quick look at the posting, went a little starry-eyed over the thought of managing the technology for a 280 million dollar venue, then was quickly discouraged by the job requirements that I clearly lacked.

Although I had spent years as a technical director in theaters and a few seasons freelancing in the broadcast departments for professional sports teams, I knew I didn’t have the experience required to manage the technology for the opening of a venue that size. I showed the posting to one of my professors who knew me well, his first reaction was asking me if I had gotten the offer yet. I laughed and told him I would love to land the job but I was underqualified. He convinced me to apply, reminding me that most job postings ask for more required skills than the employer is willing to settle for in a candidate. He then asked me what I would do to prepare if I landed the job, I told him I would reach out to everyone I was close with in the industry first thank them for all they ever taught me then ask their permission for me to call them when I needed support in the new job. Then I would study any material I could find on professional broadcast systems from blueprints to schematic designs and review them day and night until I started the job. He nodded and told me that that attitude alone would make me a top candidate.

About 6 weeks later, I had the job.

Be confident in what you know and even more confident in what you don’t. Lying to yourself or worse the company you’re interviewing for isn’t going to do you or your career any good. If there’s a skill that the job is asking for that you don’t currently have, be honest about it and be willing to learn. Very rarely is there going to be a candidate that’s an expert in every skill on the list of criteria required for a job. Just because you’re lacking or weak in 10-15% of the skills in the required sections on the posting doesn’t mean that you don’t have a shot. I’ve seen candidates with less experience get offered positions over candidates with twice their experience just for showing their willingness to learn. Most companies will choose a candidate with slightly less skill-related experience if they have strong soft skills, a positive attitude and are willing to listen and learn.

Key Takeaways:

- Don't be discouraged if you lack some of the required skills

- Express your willingness to learn and grow your skills

- Be confident in what you know and don't know

- Soft skills and a positive attitude go a long way


Calling all college students and job seekers with 5 or fewer years of professional experience looking to break into the broadcast, sports or entertainment industries:

I want to help you land your dream job! I am accepting a small, limited number of job seekers from college-level through 5 years of experience to mentor and guide through the process of landing their dream jobs. We're going to work together to:

- Grow awareness of opportunities throughout the industry

- Build a resume targeted for the employer

- Grow and improve your LinkedIn profile

- Seek out connections and leads

- Make your name more than the header on a page in a pile of applications

- Build the confidence for a strong interview

- Write and follow up

Most importantly, we're going to grow our professional network.

For more information, send me a message and let me know what your dream job is along with why you would like to work with me.