Getting a Job When You Don't Have the Exact Qualifications

You're not perfectly qualified for the position, but you might still stand a chance.

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Miriam Salpeter
Miriam Salpeter
Job descriptions seem to get longer each year. One frustrating thing for job seekers is that these lengthy requirements make it nearly impossible to demonstrate a perfect match. Debra Feldman, an executive talent agent known as JobWhiz, says, "Traditional job searching methods such as submitting résumés online, responding to advertisements, filing an application or blasting résumés to recruiters do not reliably generate responses from employers, even for those who satisfy advertised position requirements."

Feldman acknowledges how much of a challenge it is for those who do not match stated expectations for jobs to land opportunities. However, it would be a mistake to give up hope. She says: "For this group, the best approach is to focus on a go-to market strategy emphasizing one-on-one direct networking."

Feldman further explains: "Connecting with individuals, developing trust and having a mutually beneficial relationship is the key to getting traction and increasing job search momentum. The most effective network contacts to obtain a potential position are the hiring decision maker or someone the hiring authority knows and whose recommendation they will trust."

How can you successfully overcome the problem of not being perfectly qualified to land a job? Avoid online application routes and "Network Purposefully." Keep these tips from the JobWhiz in mind to overcome roadblocks: 

1. Avoid online job applications and anything smacking of a mass approach. Instead, work to create meaningful contacts in targeted niches. Feldman says the most effective networking is characterized by connecting with a hiring decision maker who can appreciate your potential. You'll need to create a message that will resonate with their expectations, pique their interest, cultivate their trust and simultaneously demonstrate your exceptional talents, background and abilities. If that sounds like a challenge, it can be. Your goal is to focus on the employer's needs. "Show how you can do the job better than all competitors," Feldman explains. "Politely follow up after the initial connection to stay on the hiring authority's radar screen as their single best prospect with the most serious interest." 

2. Seek direct contacts. Scheduling an appointment with the hiring authority must be top priority. The hiring authority must be motivated to set time aside to meet you. To encourage their participation, it's the candidate's job to show the hiring authority what's in it for them. Be sure your request is not needy, disorganized, overly persistent or selfish in any way. Make an effort to be 100 percent reliable, likable, trustworthy and credible. You have already proven through your initial inquiry or via an introduction from a mutual connection that you have something of value to offer. Keep in mind that your goal is to make sure the hiring authority knows what is in it for them. Curiosity works in the candidate's favor. Your presentation of credentials should include quantifiable data (e.g. savings or improvements), success stories, showing how your knowledge, skills, talents and experience applies to them and their needs.

3. Come recommended. Keep in mind, when a candidate comes recommended by a mutual contact, that job seeker already has one foot in the door to earning the hiring decision maker's ear, trust and admiration. The likelihood of the meeting happening and going well is even stronger. People prefer to relate to a friend of a friend over a stranger. Focus on establishing and growing connections to people (affiliated with functions, industries, etc.,) Do not count human resources as a source of leads contact unless your career is HR-related.

Miriam Salpeter is a job search and social media consultant, career coach, author, speaker, resume writer, and owner of Keppie Careers. She is author of Social Networking for Career Success and 100 Conversations for Career Success. Miriam teaches job seekers and entrepreneurs how to incorporate social media tools along with traditional strategies to reach their goals.