Author of "Your Journey from Fired to Hired"
Career Advice

Stretch Jobs: Good or Bad Career Move?

Picture this, you’ve found a job you're crazy excited about.  In fact you’re pretty sure this could be the kind of job where you would “love” going to work. And for the first time, you actually think maybe people like that aren’t completely nuts.  In fact, you’re beginning to think that maybe it IS possible to have a job where you’re not depressed on Sunday night because you know Monday morning is right around the corner.

There’s just one small little problem.  As you review the “required” and “preferred” skills for the position, you notice you’re a bit short on the requisites and lacking over half of those desired.

So do you chase “Super Job” with total vigor and commitment or do you sigh, bemoan that you don’t have everything they want and move on?

Tough decision for sure and one that’s full of ramifications to your income, sanity, success and yes even self-esteem.  But the reality is you aren’t limited to just a yes or no option.  In fact there are four different ways to play this scenario (probably more!) and I’ve seen three of the four work countless times:

  • Take a Pass and Plan to Beef Up. Make no mistake, the first and most conservative approach is to take a pass until you feel you’re more qualified for the position. At face value, this isn’t a horrible plan; however, few candidates actually take the steps after the “pass” to learn the skills and gain the experiences to be ready the next time. These lost souls (and yes I’ve been one in my career too!) remain entrenched in an unfulfilling position but never seem to create AND execute a plan to achieve their dreams.  If you do take a pass, don’t be this guy!
  • Take a Pass and ACTUALLY Beef Up! If you decide the job is just too big of leap for you, then taking a pass may be a great career move.  If (and only if!) you make a plan AND execute it to be ready the next time.  You may need to get some formal training to learn a new skill or perhaps locate a mentor to make some introductions.  If you’re taking this path, never underestimate the potential to learn and perfect new skills through volunteering opportunities.  Regardless of the specific approach, it doesn’t take long to see that while the first group is busy mumbling “why me?” into their beverage of choice, the second group is saying, “not today, but just watch me!”  If you decide to pass on “Super Job,” this is the group you want to be in!
  • Go for It and be Ready to Stretch! If you are so excited about this position that it literally consumes your thoughts and you have a healthy (but not obscene!) dose of confidence, then it may make sense to go for it.  The safest way to play this scenario is to come clean during the interview process.  Share that you haven’t tackled some of the desired skills but have always been a fast learner, know you can make an impact etc.  Of course the risk here is that you will be passed over for a more qualified candidate.  The reward however, is that if you get the job everyone fully understands what you do/don’t bring to the table on Day One.
  • Land the job and then figure it out. The fourth scenario isn’t for the faint of heart.  In fact, it’s reserved for the folks with nothing but guts and confidence that they can worry about all the stuff they don’t know after landing the job.  This approach can lead to fantastic growth (hello, you have no choice!) and success or a train wreck with impacts to your personal and professional life.

Bottom line:  Stretching your mind, body and soul are fantastic and offer rewards in all avenues of life.  There's certainly nothing wrong with small stretches in your career (infact they're normally outstanding!) but those super-sized stretch opportunities carry some risk and are a completely different conversation.  Only you can decide the path that's right for you but before you walk away, consider the wise words from Lemony Snicket, “If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting the rest of our lives.”

Article written by:

Kathi Miller-Miller is a sought after career specialist and author of “Your Journey from Fired to Hired.” Kathi draws on her 25+ years of success (and failures!) to offer her readers advice on topics ranging from dealing with a boss that drives you crazy to managing millennials...all in a light-hearted and easy to read style.

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