How To Land the Job, Even If You’re Not a Perfect Fit

Job Offer

A member of our Dice Community asks:

I’m not a perfect fit for the job based upon the posting. How do I convince them to hire me anyway?

Job OfferLet’s start by assuming your skills and interests basically fit with the role, even if you don’t have all of the requirements it calls for. Although most managers won’t hire a total novice for a complex technical role, they may select candidates who best fit their company’s environment, since a poor cultural match often leads to someone quitting – or being let go – before much time has passed. To prevail, you need to emphasize your strengths and environmental fit while minimizing the skills you lack. Here’s how to do it.

Start by customizing your resume and cover letter toward the environment and the manager’s needs. Using language similar to that of the job posting and offering a customized value proposition will make you seem like an insider, and give you an edge over more qualified candidates.

Next, go out of your way to bond with everyone you meet during interviews and propose a plan to overcome your shortcomings. For instance, say something like, “I’m willing to work nights and weekends to improve my C++ skills. I didn’t know Python when I started my last job. Yet, I was writing pretty clean code within a few weeks.”

Then be ready to summarize your strengths and quantify your value. The manager may be willing to take a chance if the plusses on your balance sheet outweigh the minuses.

If the manager’s still reluctant, reduce the risk by providing additional proof of your strengths, things like coding samples or references. Or, you could offer to start out on a contract basis. Most managers would rather hire a sharp, trainable candidate with a great attitude. Don’t under-estimate the persuasive power of positive vibes.

Have you landed a job where you didn’t quite fit? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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2 Responses to “How To Land the Job, Even If You’re Not a Perfect Fit”

January 09, 2014 at 8:00 am, Abraham said:

I have to say this article gave me a boost in my confidence =)


January 09, 2014 at 3:33 pm, VantagePt said:

The advice sounds logical, unfortunately it’s often difficult to charm the computer that screens most applicants prior to speaking or meeting anyone with a heart beat. I’ve heard of programs that are sensitive to the usage of key words and may discriminate automatically. The usage of various resumes may also be cumbersome to maintain as many apply to many positions over the time they are searching to attain their next position. I’m not sure if there’s a “magic bullet” resume format that will improve your odds at that elusive interview. I think for many it’s more the ability to get past the computer to get to that one-on-one that’s the biggest challenge. Many job seekers would love the opportunity to be able to physically present their credentials beyond a digital document that’s more a summary then the whole story as to why they should be chosen.


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