How I Landed the Unattainable Job in 36 Hours
Job Search

How I Landed the Unattainable Job in 36 Hours

by Ashley McAlpin
Photos Kara Anthony | October 06, 2015

TAKING ON NEW CHALLENGES INCREASES OUR PROFESSIONAL WORTH, BUT THEY WON'T NECESSARILY FALL IN YOUR LAP. HERE'S HOW TO EVALUATE YOUR POTENTIAL, PUSH YOUR OWN LIMITS, AND REACH FOR NEW OPPORTUNITIES. 

We all have our “application story.” Tirelessly attending interview after interview, applying for positions online, following up like there isn’t a tomorrow. It is not fun, but that’s just how it goes, right? We have high hopes for our careers, but like they always say, "No one starts at the top of the ladder."

It is easy to take that sentiment too seriously. In fact, according to an internal report by Hewlett Packard, women who worked at HP applied for a promotion only when they believed they met 100 percent of the qualifications listed for the job. Men, on the other hand, were happy to apply when they thought they could meet 60 percent of the job requirements.

Did you catch that? We, as women, are less likely to apply for challenging roles than our male counterparts, regardless of our actual qualification.

Before landing my dream job, I saw this sentiment manifest itself in my life—application after application. Until I stopped applying for jobs that didn’t challenge me, which is exactly what you need to do. Here’s why.

1. IF YOU DON’T VALUE YOURSELF, NO ONE ELSE WILL

As I sat in my last job interview (before accepting my current position), I had an epiphany. I didn't want the job. When it hit me, I was halfway through my third interview with the company (of which they would request a fourth that I would decline). The interviewer was describing the position, explaining to me why they would not be meeting my requested salary, and filling me in on the numerous administrative tasks I would be completing in addition to my marketing role.

We, as women, are less likely to apply for challenging roles than our male counterparts, regardless of our actual qualification.

It hit me like a bag of bricks, mid sentence and all. I didn't want the job. I had a B.S. in Journalism, an M.A in Media and 5+ years experience in marketing, yet I was sitting in an interview for a position that I could have done in my sleep.

Not only was I allowing my monetary worth to be diminished, but by applying for positions that required only a percentage of my skillset, I was devaluing myself—ultimately allowing others to do the same. {Click to Tweet}

2. UNLESS YOU APPLY FOR THE JOB YOU WANT, YOU WON’T GET IT

This may seem cliché, but it's true.

You will never get the job, or career, you want by settling for job descriptions that you can meet 100 percent. It is easy to compare ourselves based on our experience, education, or track record of success, often overlooking the potential, creativity and innovation that we bring to a team environment.

You are powerful. Your vulnerability is a strength, and you deserve to get your dream job. Go ahead—if you don’t take the chance, you will never get the reward.

3. FEAR CAN BE A MOTIVATOR

The biggest excuse I had for not applying to challenging positions was fear. Fear of rejection, fear of being “exposed,” and ultimately fear of receiving the position and then being found inept.

However, according to research from Roosevelt University, fear is the greatest motivator known to man. The article states that fear, “... though inevitable, can be redirected in a positive way to become a driving force toward success. The secret lies within our perception of the emotion.”

Instead of allowing the fear of failure to paralyze you, allow it to motivate you to prove your worth. Challenge is an opportunity for success and you such treat it as such.

4. MEN AREN'T PLAYING BY YOUR RULES

Let’s face it—most of us are competing with men for our dream jobs. So, it is fitting to understand how those men are looking at the roles that we desire.

In an article from the Harvard Business Review, and as referenced above, women apply for jobs because they believe the stated qualifications must be met, whereas men still apply for jobs even if they can only meet half of the qualifications, “[This] is a wake-up call that not everyone is playing the game that way.”

If we are going to be valued for our professional worth in the way that we desire, we need to begin to approach the world with confidence comparable to that of our male counterparts.

If we are going to be valued for our professional worth in the way that we desire, we need to begin to approach the world with confidence comparable to that of our male counterparts.

5. FACT: IF YOU'RE NOT CHALLENGED, YOU WON'T SUCCEED

Challenge, like fear, can help push us to the next level in our careers. {Click to Tweet} Overcoming challenges builds confidence, which can ultimately lead to greater opportunities professionally.

Not only does challenge inspire us to grow, but studies prove it also keeps us engaged and fulfilled at work. {Click to Tweet}

“What talented people want has changed. They used to want high salaries to verify their value and stable career paths to allow them to sleep well at night. Now they want purposeful work and jobs that fit clearly into the larger context of their career,” according to an article from Harvard Business Review.

So, where does that leave us? If you haven’t guessed it by now, my story ends like this. I finally stopped applying for positions that I could “handle” and reached for the promotion that I knew I could knock out of the park, regardless of the job description. You know what happened then? I got the job. After one interview—36 hours to be exact.

* * * 

How did you motivate yourself to push your professional limits? Tell us.