Don’t wait until you’re perfectly qualified to go for that stretch role. Your competition isn’t.

Share story

A beloved client was considering a move. She had seen a VP role she was interested in.

“But I’m not qualified,” this senior director said. “I haven’t done ________,” and she named some technical skill.

So I told her a story.

I had a client — a director at a large health-care organization — whose boss checks Google when he doesn’t know how to do something.

He leads a large organization, he’s renowned as an expert authority and, yes, he’s Googling his gaps of knowledge on the fly.

“He asks Google how to do his job,” she laughed.

A well-known study found that women will only apply for a job/promotion if they meet 100 percent of the required qualifications. Men will apply if they meet 60 percent of the qualifications. (The Harvard Business Review makes the salient point that this is not a confidence issue, but a lack of understanding of the hiring process.)

“Starting a new job where you already have all the required skills and experience is a lateral move,” I told my client. “Your professional growth lies in the gaps; the stretch is what makes a new job interesting.”

I asked her how she could get up to speed on that missing technical skill.

“Well, there are books about it,” she said. “A friend of mine even wrote a book about it — I’ve been meaning to have him over for dinner.”

“Do you think you would be successful in this role?” I asked her. She lit up, enthusiastic about the responsibilities, the impact, the scope — the interesting-ness of the role.

“Do you think your lack of experience in this specific technical skill would cause you to stumble in this role?” I asked her.

“No, I’d just Google it,” she laughed.