One of the most common, reoccurring jokes in the job industry today is how an "entry-level position" requires 2+ years of experience.
If you've been looking for jobs, you know that this is true. A very common thing for job seekers to think early on is, "Man, I would love this job, but I'm not 100% qualified". They then move on to the next job posting, which might not be what they're interested in, but at least they know they tick all the boxes.
This is a huge mistake.
The last thing you want to do is limit yourself to only the jobs that you think you can get. While this approach might seem logical, it can actually be counterproductive for getting into a company or post that you truly enjoy or want to develop in. The best approach is to apply to all jobs that strike your interest, regardless of experience needed or whether you can do the job well from day 1. Do not underestimate the value of the human factor. You don't have to be 100% qualified for a position. You can get started at the dream job you've been looking at by displaying to potential recruiters your enthusiasm and passion through soft skills and showing how you've developed your skills and experience.
Often, job seekers think that the job seeking process is done through a computer algorithm that picks you based on keywords and other logical factors. While this is a common practice, it is by no means the rule. The hiring process is a very emotional one that takes "human factors" and "soft skills" into consideration. Your innate strengths and characteristics that aren't shown on a resume are very important deciding factors for whether you are considered for the job or not. This means that who you are matters.
This is great as it can be interpreted by recruiters in several ways. Displaying enthusiasm and optimism for learning new subjects can be a boon to prospective companies since you're eager to adapt. Sometimes it's better to start with a fresh slate instead of hiring someone who knows the processes already but can't adhere to company standards or policies. Being a people-person can put you on the fast track towards leadership and management roles as you can handle human interaction better than most. Passion for the company and their industry can also be considered when hiring employees, as that candidate will be more likely to support the brand and the company and truly understand what it takes to be successful there.
Having an awesome personality doesn't help you if you can't get the interview in the first place. You're going to have to beef up your resume and cover letter to a point where recruiters can get a taste of what you're like, and still be impressed enough to speak to you. The cover letter is a great spot to expand on you and your benefits to the company as an eager learner. Don't just write that you are a self-starter – provide real examples. Talk about how you learned how to use Photoshop yourself and the benefits this gave you, or how you started budgeting your own finances and what impact that had on your personal monetary goals.
Instead of just listing your volunteer experience on your resume, expand on it! If you don't have prior work experience, use your volunteering experience to the best of your abilities. Talk about how you played a role in helping a charity organize their events, or earn more donations through campaigns. Focus on what you did and the results that it had. You can also talk about personal pet projects that you worked on yourself to display your eagerness to learn and experiment.
When you're reading a job post, don't assume that their requirements are the end of the line – job listings often describe the perfect candidate, not the realistic one. Yes, you might not be qualified for some very specific jobs, but what’s the harm in applying anyways? –particularly for fresh grads trying to get into the work force or those that think they're a good fit for the company. The worst they can say is no. Instead of saying no FOR them by not applying, take the initiative, demonstrate your skills and passion, and fight for the spot!