Robert Half International lists 6 Ways to Get the Job When You’re Not the ‘Ideal’ Candidate.

It contains some good advice.  I suggest you give it a read.

Below are a few thoughts  on the contents, along with an extra tip at the end.

1. Don’t Waste Their Time

Very true.

Some people apply for every position regardless of how closely they meet the required qualifications. The idea is that maybe there will be something about their resume that intrigues the reader and they will get an interview. Or, there may be another open position in the company that matches their skills and the reader will forward the resume on.

I would say the annoyance factor in reviewing an unqualified applicant’s resume completely negates any goodwill the reader may otherwise have. It is almost certain that the unqualified person’s resume will go straight into the garbage.

Unless you are within 80% of the stated requirements, do not waste the company’s time.

2. Find an Inside Connection

Maybe it is just me, but I do not like this suggestion.

As an employer, I hate to be approached this way concerning open positions. Most employers that I know share this opinion. They do not appreciate being put on the spot by a friend or colleague. They also find it annoying to see someone trying to circumvent the system. I always wonder if a person who wants to take a short-cut into the company will also want to take short-cuts in performing their assignments. Not a great first impression to make.

As someone that occasionally gets asked to put in a good word for someone, I hate that as well. In business, one’s reputation is all one has. In recommending someone to a friend or associate, I am putting my seal of approval on the individual. Unless I am completely certain that the person is of a high standard, I am leery of putting my name on the line.

My reputation is too important an asset to diminish by recommending someone for a position who may or may not be an excellent candidate. Nothing personal, but unless I am absolutely certain about the person, I will not proffer their name to an associate.

Note that this is much different than providing a reference for someone. I am usually happy to provide a reference for former employees or people that I know well enough to form a firm opinion. I will be honest in my appraisal though, as will most others I know.

When you ask someone to be a reference, make sure you are clear on what will be said about you. There are no guarantees that it will be positive.

3. Address Concerns Upfront

I have said this in previous posts.

We all have negatives. There is no perfect applicant.

It is much better for you to raise any obvious negatives on your terms during the interview or even in your cover letter.

For example, you do not possess all the required qualifications for the job. You are applying for a Finance position but lack technical training in derivatives.

You could enrol in an Options course prior to the interview. Then you can say that while you do not have all the requested technical skills, you are currently taking the appropriate course, on your own time and expense. You may not get the job, but you will show them that you have the self-motivation to improve your skills. And that will be seen very favourably.

Note that I said “obvious negatives” above. Do not raise issues that are not obvious to all parties. No sense destroying your chances for the position by disclosing something that does not need to be discussed.

4. Highlight Return on Investment

Always show the employer that you have a track record of success.

Demonstrate to the company that the investment they make in you through compensation and training will result in significant returns.

Provide specific examples of where you have been an asset to a previous company or in your personal life.

When possible, always quantify your results.

For example, as Controller you are responsible for General & Administration (G&A) expenses. Perhaps you implemented cost-cutting measures (define them) that reduced G&A expenses 11.4% from 2008 to 2009. During that same period, Sales increased 8%, resulting in a significant improvement to the bottom line. Note that by including Sales, you show that the company was growing and not just reducing costs at the expense of revenues.

Have back-up documentation to support your claims, if necessary.

You do not need to submit any documents with your application, but have them ready at your interview in case you need to show proof. Having facts at hand if questioned shows that you are a professional and that your assertions have credibility.

5. Offer a Trial Run

I am not sure this is necessary.

Possibly if you send in your resume to a company without applying for a specific opening.

But if there is an position that you have applied for, and you have the qualifications, I would rather see that you believe you deserve the job. Show them on the merits, that hiring you is a smart move by the company.

That you do not need to use any tricks to beat out better candidates for the position.

Besides, in many full-time jobs there is a probationary period for new hires. During that period either the company or the employee may terminate the arrangement without liability.

To me, that is the trial run.

6. Be Truthful

Nothing to add here.

Be honest and forthright in your application and interview.

7. Ask for the Job

Not stated in the article, but especially important when you are not the best candidate.

Show the interviewer that you want the job.

That you will do whatever is necessary to address the issues that make you a less than ideal candidate. Reiterate that you are a fast learner and that you can get fully up to speed quickly. Demonstrate that you will bring a track record of hard work and success to the position.

Many ideal candidates may not have that hunger to show how much they want the position.

Emphasize to your interviewer your strong desire to get the job.

Do not beg and plead for the opening or relate tales of woe should you not get the offer. But show them that you are serious about joining the firm. That you believe you have the talent and energy to be an asset to the organization. That the company is one you would love to work for and that the position itself offers a great challenge and opportunity.

Then, explicitly ask for the job offer.

If you do, the company may take a chance on you.

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