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I was recently laid off from an junior level job and now that I am looking for a new job I can only find senior level positions. I am a graphic designer and have been told my portfolio is incredibly strong but I don't have that many years of experience. Should I try applying for the senior level positions or would that come off as being cocky/overconfident? Also, would there even be a remote chance of me so much as getting an interview if I did?

marked as duplicate by gnat, jcmeloni, Michael Grubey, CMW, IDrinkandIKnowThings Apr 22 '14 at 21:37

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  • Overconfident is when your confidence is not justified by the quality of your output. It's not the number of years - as King Frederick II of Prussia used to say, a jackass with 20 years of experience is still a jackass - it's how much good experience you had. Don't overthink it: if your portfolio shows senior level work, then your portfolio is what it is. If being cocky/overconfident is not part of your psychological makeup, then coming across as being cocky/overconfident should not be a concern to you, simply because you just don't have a clue on how to be cocky/overconfident :) – Vietnhi Phuvan Apr 19 '14 at 4:23
  • You don't need to beat your chest like a gorilla. You need only believe in yourself and let your portfolio back up your talk :) – Vietnhi Phuvan Apr 19 '14 at 4:24
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Years of experience is usually a loose requirement, especially if you can otherwise make up for it (with a strong portfolio, for example). Actually, most requirements are usually loose - it's not about meeting them to the letter, it's about being roughly around there.

So, assuming a position specifies a number of years of experience a bit above what you currently have, don't think twice about applying for it. However, I wouldn't quite expect you'd have much luck with a position that requires many years more than you have (e.g. 5+ years, where you only have 1).

With that said, some employers are way more strict on their requirements - they won't consider you at all if you don't meet all of them to the letter.

And years of experience could be referring to either skill (which you probably have with a strong portfolio) or seniority (to mentor or otherwise help junior employees, which you probably don't have so much of without much work experience, or at least you probably can't show it on your resume, unless you held seniority positions at school or university, e.g. been a prefect or been a captain of a team, but that doesn't have quite the same effect on a resume) - unfortunately there isn't really a way to know which one they're looking for, with the exception of being able to derive this information from the rest of the job specification.

However, the worst that can happen in applying for such a position is not getting it, right? Well, at least considering probable things happening.


With all that said, keep in mind to focus your search on what matches your level of experience. A fair amount of time should go into researching the company, writing a good cover letter, customizing your resume, etc., that you don't want to spend all this time on a position you're not even particularly likely to get (although a lot can be said for really, really wanting it) when you could've been spending it on applying for a more appropriate role (or even on improving your portfolio).

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I'd apply and see if the company may lighten up on how much experience it is expecting. There is a chance as you don't know what another company may call Senior as some places would call someone with a few years Senior and other places may expect decades of experience for someone to be Senior. After all, what's the worst that happens if you aren't qualified?

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I don't see 'Graphics Designer' in the same context as Aerospace Engineer - if you screw up is anything going to crash? Artwork tends to be something you either have talent for or not - it's hard to imagine that it 'gets materially better' after five or ten years. Go for the senior roles, and indicate you've been doing this stuff since high school. If you actually have examples from public school days, so much the better.

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