False hope could arise. While those at the lower end of the hiring bureaucracy may think well enough of your résumé to move it along, the senior manager making the final decision may decide you don't have the credentials. Couper says an experience like that can make "you believe you are never going to find a job" and "feel very unsure about the future." Also, by pinning your hopes on that one opening, you lose valuable time searching for other jobs.
You could end up hating the job. You may get hired. But if the gap between your skills and those required to perform the job is wide, you could quickly become overwhelmed. Hesitant to admit an error, employers may not fire you right away. But if dissatisfaction on both ends grows over time, "one party may quit or move on," Dixon says.
Be Optimistic, But Don't Swing For the Fences
If you decide to apply for jobs you're unqualified for, don't put all your stock in those positions. With only so many hours during the day to devote to job searching, it's important to find a proper balance between applying for positions that align with your qualifications and those that don't.
Also, don't let hope turn into wishful thinking. If you only have three years of experience when the position calls for nine, or a high school diploma when the education requirement is a master's degree, you have to be honest with yourself when assessing your prospects. "You can be underqualified, but it still has to be in the realm of your capabilities. You have to be confident that you have the skills and the knowledge to get the job done. You shouldn't be applying to jobs far beyond your capabilities," Dixon says. "Go big, but not off the chart."