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Get clear reasons why not to oversell your credentials

Get clear reasons why not to oversell your credentialsImage Credit: Supplied

Although taking a job that is slightly outside your comfort zone can be a good challenge that could yield a decent opportunity for advancement, making a big jump in a job that is well beyond your qualifications – assuming you get it - can be disastrous.

Despite all the typical vetting procedures, it is not impossible for people to make false claims about past responsibilities, fake competencies and pretend to be able to do tasks they are really unprepared for to get a job that is not right for them. This error on the hiring managers' part will end up hurting the applicant despite the initial win. Taking a job well beyond one's skills is a recipe for failure.

That is not to say that you should lower the bar for yourself to ensure success. Almost every job applicant does try to offer past experiences and skills in a positive way and push the limit to get the best job possible. But there is a thin line between positive presentation and making things up. The latter can be deceiving to the hiring person and, unfortunately, won't help keep a job.

Here are a few points to think about if you're trying to bluff your way to getting a job well above your skills.

Can I do it?

Professional advancement does require facing challenges. So it is a good idea when looking for a new job that you pick an opportunity that offers you a chance to stretch skills and prove your potential.

It is critical, however, that you ask yourself if such efforts can be a success or not. The point is to be able to accomplish and excel in the basic duties the job requires, or with extra effort and persistence if needed.

Although the hiring decision in itself may be seen as recognition from the employer that you are a good fit, it is your responsibility to question your eligibility for the requirements. After all, if an employer corrects a wrong hiring decision (obviously by letting you go), you're the one who will be stuck with a negative record on the resume.

What is the plan?

If applying for jobs that exceed your qualifications, what is to be the plan for success? Someone may have in mind that putting extra hours can help in catching up. Another may think that learning on the job is the way to go, or that a mix of professional help and past experience can make it work.

Whatever the plan is, try to make sure that it fits in with the employer's expectations. For example, some may expect a longer learning curve than others. Similarly, some may have more tolerance for mistakes made early on than others. Some even may offer training or help, if needed.

In short, to make sure you will be able to bridge the experience and knowledge gap, have a post-hiring plan for success. Remember, getting the job is a landmark, but keeping it is what really matters.

Why do you need that job?

Make sure that your desire to get that job is based on sincere conviction that your skills and experience are up to the challenge. Any other reason such as fascination with the title or the pay can be unrealistic to whether you will be able to make it work or not. These factors are likely to wear off quickly, once the job is acquired, which means you are likely to run out of steam shortly.

When taking a challenging job, one need to ensure that you have the time, motivation and resources to deal with its requirements. If you struggle to make it through an ordinary job situation, now may not be the right time to take on a new challenge.

Get tips on how to land a job in these tough times

Source: Rania Oteify, Special to