If you’ve ever read a job position description and felt completely unqualified, you’re not alone. In the current economic climate, nearly half of Americans are out of work. This means the competition is fiercer than ever. But what if I told you, all you’re missing is a “qualified mindset”? What I mean by this is that you need to adopt the confidence in yourself to trust that you have passions, interests, strengths and values to offer the world. Because it’s true. You are more qualified than you realize.
The first step to landing a virtual job? Stop spending the bulk of your time sending in cold applications. The fact is 85 percent of jobs are found through networking. Let’s increase your chances by taking these four actions to help you land a job opportunity. The best part? You can complete every single one of these steps from the comfort of your couch.
Action 1. Feed your hangry soul
The job search can be ruthless, with zero replies or straight up rejection, and it can sting. When I was rejected from three magazine internships, I started to think that I wasn’t good enough for the entire industry. In fact, I felt like a total failure. According to a study by five psychology professors, when we face rejection, our brain perceives it the same as pain. One of the study's creators, Ethan Kross, a professor of psychology at University of Michigan, told me, "Rejection hurts and unmanaged self-esteem plummets."
That’s why it’s so important to build your qualified mindset, starting with your passion. Yes, that’s right, identifying what you actually want to do. Set aside 20 minutes to write down what you enjoy and what lights up your world. Have you ever felt like you were starving to make an impact? It’s human nature to seek meaningful work. In this case, go toward the light.
Action 2. Tell me like your BFF would
The story my students tell me when they’re applying for jobs, is the greatest elevator pitch for why they’re not qualified. I hear it again and again: I’m not good enough. I’m not qualified. I chose the wrong major.
It’s not easy to see all the ways in which we’re crushing it. But if I asked you to list all the ways in which your best friend is crushing it, I bet you could. So lean on your BFF, those who know you best, to identify your strengths. I challenge you to write down 20 strengths right here, right now. Once you have your list, think about a moment where you’ve demonstrated one of the strengths. Like the time you volunteered to design and order the T-shirts for the danceathon; or led your team's presentation on reducing your school's carbon footprint; or filmed a video of your study abroad experience to be used at orientation — sounds like a creative and reliable leader to me. You’ll start to see how your experiences make you more qualified than you realize.
Action 3. Send a DM a day
Even though I was rejected from three internships, I didn’t consider that I had skipped over an essential step: the informational interview.
How can you determine the skills you need to succeed in the job if you’ve never talked to anyone who is currently in the role you are seeking? Hop on LinkedIn and search for someone in your dream career. Reach out and ask for 15 minutes of their time, whether it be a virtual coffee over Zoom or a phone call. When you send a DM be sure to let them know that you are inspired by their career and would like to learn about their career journey. This is how you uncover the roadmap for how they got to their position today. For example, after my informational interview with an editor at Washingtonian magazine, I learned that she first gained experience by writing for her campus magazine. I was shocked—I hadn’t even thought to build my portfolio that way. I followed her advice, and after getting published for the first time, I was able to use that article to snag my first editorial internship with Washington Spaces magazine.
Make courageous connections part of your routine by sending a DM a day. I give this assignment to all my career-seeking students and even after a handful of messages they start hearing back from people who are in their dream fields. It's such a good feeling to know that they are not alone on this career journey. People want to help you.
Action 4. Apply from the upside down—And Zoom like a boss
Research, connect, repeat. I call this the “upside-down job application” because it’s the reverse of what we think we should be doing. Instead of scouring job postings, applying and then researching the company, you’re going to learn about the company and connect first before even looking to see if there's a job posting. This approach works because you're making connections with real people at the organization and you'll be top of mind for when positions become available.
Once you get that interview, Zoom like a boss. Create a dedicated desk or space with a bright background for your informational interviews. Be sure to log into Zoom the day before to test out your background, lighting, and audio, and to ensure that your face is centered on the screen. Now, light up the screen with your passion. Yes, you! Show up energized. Share why you are passionate about the company and role. Reveal your strengths in the context of stories. For example, instead of listing off that you get creative with video, share the story of the video montage you created in iMovie for your parent's anniversary that took 40+ hours and resulted in smiles to last a lifetime. Lastly, prepare a handful of questions such as, "What do you enjoy most about working here?" Not only will you learn more about the company culture, but you’ll also show how you're interested in learning more about them.
Now that you’ve fed your hangry soul, told your story from your BFF’s perspective, sent a DM a day and applied from the Upside Down, you’re on your way to landing the virtual role. But most importantly, you’re building your “qualified mindset,” preparing for any rejection that comes your way.
You are more qualified than you realize—trust in yourself and go after what you want.
ABOUT AMANDA NACHMAN: As the CEO and publisher of College Magazine, the trusted guide to navigating college, reaching millions of readers, Amanda Nachman empowers young professionals to achieve a career they love. She’s developed a career strategy over twelve years coaching thousands of students. It’s the same strategy that helped her to quit her boring day job and launch her dream magazine. Her graduates have gone on to careers at NBC, USA Today, Vox, Washingtonian, Us Weekly, National Geographic, and more. She’s also a TEDx speaker and host of the Find Your Passion Career podcast found on iTunes and Spotify.