Job searching. The bain of our existence at times, yet thrilling when we find the exact position we want to apply to. Some problems can pop up though when we find that perfect position, but none more frustrating than a job description requiring relevant experience we don’t have. For recent graduates or even experienced professionals, there are ways that our experience now doesn’t align with the job we really want. When we encounter this roadblock, we can apply without any real hope that you’ll get an interview, or shy away from applying in the first place.
When I first began writing this article, I assumed that candidates don’t apply for jobs without direct qualifications due to lack of confidence. Forbes published that this lack of confidence shifts depending on who you talk to: Men are confident about their ability at 60%, but women don’t feel confident until they’ve checked off each item on the list.
I was pretty surprised to learn that there are a number of different reasons that contribute towards hitting the x button at the top of your browser during your job search.
In some industries, especially in Washington, D.C. it can make sense to assume that requirements and qualifications are pretty accurate towards what you need to be able to do to perform the job. Whether applying for a federal or private sector job, the hiring process isn’t as black and white as we may be led to believe.
If you’re searching for jobs and keep feeling discouraged about whether or not to apply, here are my top tips to realign yourself and put in a fabulous application.
Break the “rules”: Recruiters and managers alike understand that the best candidates aren’t always the ones who have consistently done the same job for years and years. Especially in today’s market, moving every couple of years is the new norm. Shift your mindset and break a few age-old rules for job applications. Whether it’s a longer resume, calling to tell the company about your latest projects, or shifting the focus to the company rather than you, do something different. If you build relationships with people and stand out as an active candidate beyond just applying for one position, they are twice as likely to call you if another candidate doesn't work out.
Relate your skills: Take a step back from your resume and get some honest opinions about what you’ve written down. Especially for women, avoid using the word support or administrated - these are old school terms that should only be used if you’re applying for an administration type position. Focus on driving or managing, and be sure to describe the broader skillset you’ve gained from all of your previous roles.
Timing is everything: The moment you see the position posted, check the date. If it’s been over a week, most likely, the recruiter has a pile of candidates already. Get in early with your application to increase your chances of being selected.
The age-old who you know: It never fails that referrals get picked up more often than non-referrals. We innately trust someone who suggests a candidate, even if their skills are a direct match. It couldn’t hurt to build relationships with people in your top companies or organizations, and build up a rapport with the recruiters (genuinely of course).
In the job hunt, it isn’t just a handful for you, it’s also a lot of work for recruiters sifting through hundreds of resumes a day and scanning like crazy to find the right fit and get to the next role to fill. To make things easier for them and for you, remember your spellcheck and grammar. I can’t tell you how many times great people get turned away because of format or other silly mistakes. Get the person focused on your resume content and you’ll have a much better chance at making your application go even farther in the process.
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