The "Almost Perfect" Candidate
I found a lead for a great job. The only problem is that they want a few minor qualifications that I just don’t have. Should I apply anyway?
It depends. (You’ll find this is the answer to most job search questions, by the way.)
First, do you have most of the qualifications? And do you have all the ones listed under “Required”? If so, keep reading.
Try to look at yourself from the employer’s point of view. The employer may be concerned that it will require a lot of time and effort to train you before you’ll be a fully functioning member of the team. If there is another candidate who already has all the qualifications, you can understand why the employer would prefer that candidate over you. The employer needs help now; in fact, they've probably needed that help for some time already.
You’ll have to demonstrate that you can do the essential functions of the job. Talk about your transferable skills. What problems have you solved that are similar to the ones this company is working on? (Be sure to do your research so you know their problems.) Don’t be humble about your accomplishments. Have you done something similar as a volunteer? That counts too.
If you’re close to having at least the basic requirements (e.g., they ask for three years of experience, and you have two), go ahead and apply. Or if you have more experience than they require in one area, but you’re a little short in another, it’s worth a try. Focus on your accomplishments: how you saved time and/or money for a previous employer, your best relevant skills, how you make a difference in the world. (And you do!)
Be sure to emphasize all the reasons you are right for the job. Show the reasons you like them, and the reasons they’ll like you. Emphasize the strengths you possess that are relevant to the work they want done. Don’t imply that you can do what you can’t, but do stress all the good things you bring to the table.
You could offer to work on a temporary basis, or even on a volunteer basis for a few days, to prove yourself. If all goes well, they’ll hire you. But even if it doesn’t, you come away with tremendous benefits: some experience in your field, detailed knowledge about a new company, and lots of networking contacts who will be able to comment on your work.