Applying to Jobs Where You Aren’t a Perfect Match

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What should you do when you run across a job ad that seems almost perfect for your skill level and experience, but is asking for an item that you don’t quite possess yet? Hiring Advisors typically write job descriptions with the “perfect” candidate in mind, and while they may be aiming for the stars, they understand that they may have to sacrifice a couple of their “must-have” credentials. So yes, you should apply for these types of jobs, even if you may be missing a few of the key items, and these tips will give you the best chance at securing the job:

Present Your Strengths; Not Your Shortcomings

When it comes to your CV, you have a short amount of time to make your case for why you are the right person for a job. Hiring Managers want to spend the seconds they have to initially read your resume learning about your strengths as they pertain to the open position. If you are missing a few of the skills and experience highlighted in the job ad, you want to present your strengths, not dwell on your shortcomings. Considering that a Hiring Manager needs to make a quick decision, talking about a qualification you DON’T have is going to be a lot more noticeable than focusing on what you can bring to the table.

Name Other Skills/ Experience that Can Help Fill Some Holes

Focusing on complimentary skills and experience is a great way to overcome some professional areas that you might be lacking. For example, if you don’t have experience working in an environment where you have to keep in touch with clients, having customer service experience where you regularly talked to and interacted with customers might be just as good in the company’s eyes, especially if they can’t find a candidate that has the exact experience they are looking for.

Be Extra Careful With Phrasing

In the vein of presenting your strengths not your shortcomings, it’s important to pay attention to the phrasing you use when presenting “alternative” skills and experiences on your cover letter, and during your interview. You want to present these items as a skill, not as a filler for something you don’t have. Don’t use phrasing like “While I might not have experience with this, I have experience with that,”  as it will instantly points out that you don’t have a qualification. Instead, simply list it as you would any other item that shows your strength as a candidate, simply making the point that you have the experience.

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