How Do I Know I’m Qualified?

For several years, the question of “Am I qualified enough?” has plagued me. Should I do more? What if I do too much and become over-qualified! There is rarely an assessment one can take to determine the level of expertise in a particular area. In my opinion, test scores are a lot like IQ scores. They can tell you something about potential, but little about what someone can actually do.

Recently, an idea popped into my head that solved the problem for me. Asking “Am I qualified?” is the wrong question! If you can produce/do the thing successfully (whatever that means in context), then you are qualified to do that thing. If you can build it, sell it, program it, calculate it, design it, draw it, clean it, organize it, or manage it, then you are doing it.

If you are thinking of whether you are qualified enough to put the skill on your resume (as I was), the question is what have you done/produced with the skill? That is approximately the level you are qualified at. On the other hand, if the question is am I qualified enough in this skill for a specific job (assuming you are somewhere in the ballpark), then the question is what kind of learner are you? And maybe, what is your stress tolerance? Almost all new jobs require learning, so the fact that you will have to learn on the job is universal. “OK, but how do I know if I should apply for a particular job?” You’ll never know for sure, and you don’t need any permission to apply, so just apply.

Niels Bohr, who received a Nobel Prize in physics, said, “An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field.” The tradesman in the photo works with an enviable certainty because he has made all the mistakes before. The lesson I take from this is to be confident in your specific abilities and let others label them how they please…because those labels don’t matter. It’s what you can do that matters.