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I am an entry-level programmer (just graduated university 2 years ago) living in a smaller city, so the job market is a bit dry and their aren't a lot of opportunities for people just starting out. I am applying to a job where I don't meet some of the job requirements posted on the company's website, mainly that they are looking for someone with several years' experience in their particular field.

I understand that I may not get the job but I want to apply anyway because I like the company and I am hoping I can prove my worth to them enough that they can give me a chance. Problem is, I feel like the interview is the best place for me to make a case for myself. What can I say when I submit my resume and cover letter that shows that I am willing to work hard to make up for my deficit in experience, enough to at least get a foot in the door? Should I mention that I know I don't fill the requirements? Would not mentioning it be disingenuous?

  • Everyone is underqualified for some of the requirements. In other words you cannot be an expert in everything and naming only the really relevant requirements would make job offers to be two or three lines at most. – red-shield Jan 24 at 11:58
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Should I mention that I don't fill the requirements?

You don't. The recruiters aren't blind they'll figure that out as soon as they read your CV. Just make sure your CV fully covers your ability and willingness to improve and that your cover letter makes it show you really want to work at the company you're applying for.

CV and cover letter is a way to show your strengths and what you can provide the company whilst also saying why you want to work for the prospective employer. Don't mention any weaknesses. They'll find them, but it means you don't show that you had that hesitation in your mind when applying.

  • 2
    Just to add to this that you shouldn't get too hung up on the "X years experience required" type of statement. Often the number of years are vague guesses by HR or whoever is writing the job spec. "3 years of experience" may just be their way of formalising the phrase "a bit of experience". – colmde Jan 24 at 8:50
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It is usually a bad idea to mention that you don't fill the requirements explicitly. HR read your resume and they already know. What you can do however is stress which part of the requirements you do have in a sentence like this:

I am confident that I can bring my expertise on {skill-that-you-have} which will be valuable to the company and meanwhile expand my skillset towards {skill-that-you-don't-have-yet}

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Should I mention that I am underqualified in my cover letter?

No.

You apply for the jobs with your resume and a cover letter that emphasizes your strengths, not one that points out your weaknesses.

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