YOU know you can do the job… but how do you convince THEM? I was talking with a client earlier this morning about her resume, and she made a point that I absolutely love. She said that even though she’s always excelled at every job she’s had, on paper she was never technically the “right fit” for the role, in terms of the exact job description. They wanted 10 years of experience, she had 7. They wanted financial industry experience, she brought healthcare & beauty. Experience managing a team? She managed 1 or 2 part-time interns.
So what sealed the deal? How she positioned those experiences and skills. And that she’s great at selling herself.
What I love about this is that she clearly gets it – the idea that being the ideal candidate is less about presenting a resume that fulfills the items on a checklist, and more about speaking to the higher-level needs of the organization, and the role. Maybe you don’t fit the description to a T, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t apply, especially if you know that you bring something of value to the table that speaks to your ability to be successful and thrive in the role.
From my experience, hiring managers want it all, in one package, and for the cheapest price possible. Often the job description they put out there is exactly that – their “ideal candidate”, but not necessarily the only person who can do the job effectively, and thus whom they would consider hiring. Here are a couple common scenarios and how to skirt around them when marketing yourself:
You Know You Can Do the Job, BUT…
You Fall Slightly Short of the “Must have X years experience” requirement. What other experience do you bring to the table that can compensate? Do you have additional academic or outside training that you can pull from, volunteer experience, or even contract or freelance projects you’ve worked on? They may be small individually, but together these components add up to value.
- Try This: “While the position calls for 8 years of experience, I bring 5 solid years of experience to the table, in addition to 2 years of Masters-level coursework in Organizational Management. Additionally, 2 of those 5 years of experience were in a managerial role when I stepped up and took over for my supervisor who left the organization unexpectedly, so I’m quite familiar with taking on new challenges and pushing my skills to a new level.”
You Don’t Have “X Industry or Vertical” Experience. Think about instances where you encountered a new type of client, project or line of business, and how you got yourself up to speed. What did you learn about the transition, and how can you apply that to breaking into a new industry? What other industries or clients have you worked with that maybe posed similar challenges, guidelines or project regulations that might be applicable to the industry you’re applying to?
- Try This: “While I haven’t dealt specifically with consumer packaged goods, I have written copy for a broad range of clientele. Additionally, as a freelancer, I moved around several teams at my last agency, which pushed me to really learn how to adapt quickly and come up to speed on the client’s business in a fraction of the time.”
You Are Overqualified for the Role. While it’s clear that you may be able to do the role quite easily, hiring managers will wonder if your interest in the job is more that of a “safety net”, a way to get a foot in the door and move to a higher level as quick as possible. Or that you will jump ship as soon as a different opportunity that better fits your experience and compensation range comes along. In other words, it’s a risky investment for the company to hire, train and integrate an employee who has a high chance of leaving.
- Try This: “While my experience in marketing is more extensive than most candidates, my bigger interest lies in taking my existing skills and applying them to a new area of opportunity in digital media, wherein my previous roles have been primarily print-focused. I’m interested in starting at a slightly more junior level in return for the opportunity to grow and develop within this niche, with a cutting edge company like Agency X.”
Believe it or not, in many cases the skills and experience that you bring to the table are less relevant than the actual way that you package and present them. This isn’t to say you can lie your way through just any job description. But part of moving into a new role and taking on a new opportunity is about challenging yourself and stretching your capabilities, learning new skills while adapting the skills and talents you already possess to contribute to goals of the company. It’s a win-win!
It’s 2013, and it’s time to take to let them know loud and clear – “I might look like a risk, but hire me and I will prove to you just how valuable I am!”
Illustration by TangYauHoong on Flickr