Discussion: December 8, 2009 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter
The Q&A column in this week’s newsletter asks whether employers are too hell-bent on hiring only “the perfect candidate,” when ability and talent might be the more efficient path to getting a job done. How long will a manager wait until perfection arrives?
Do employers really want only someone who has already done the exact job? Am I nuts, or is there something wrong here? Do credentials matter more than ability to ride a learning curve and come up to speed?
(Oops! Maybe ability is harder to assess than credentials, eh?)
How can you get an employer to hire you, if you haven’t already done the exact job?
By Maurreen Skowran
December 8, 2009 at 10:45 am
And while wishing for a boatload of experience, some employers want to pay thousands of dollars less than what the combination is worth.
I’m also seeing more hybrid jobs, where the employer wants people to do a combination of moderately disparate functions that would normally be done by two to five people.
For employers, consider:
* Probation and informal apprenticeship.
* Contingency plans and back-up workers.
* Referrals and feedback from the last person to hold the job.
* Getting someone with most of what you’re looking for, then sending him to one or more classes.
* Job sharing — Hire a couple of people part-time to do different parts of the job.
* Training someone from within to work the hard-to-fill position, and hiring that person’s replacement from a larger pool.
* More generally, get employee feedback on any ads, etc. How much do your ads or other material do to say “Pick me”? Employers often shoot themselves in the foot with ads that are neutral or worse.
For job seekers, especially career changers:
* Don’t take the expectations or stated requirement as gospel. Sometimes they are, sometimes not. For example, most people in the field I come from have a bachelor’s degree. I have only about a year’s worth of college classes.
* School or other training can be a good way to get your foot in the door, without necessarily completing the degree. Besides the actual learning, you have opportunities for demonstration, connections through the faculty, etc.
* Start small. Do “x” on your own and demonstrate it. Consider volunteering and student jobs. In my first career change, I moved from aviation support in the Marine Corps to journalism. I started at a community college newspaper. My pay was initially zero. My background was minimal. But I got experience and worked up to one of the country’s larger and better newspapers.
* Pay attention and build links from where you are and have been, to where you want to be. My first job at a real newspaper came about because of an article I read in the local weekly paper. The editor was saying goodbye to a couple of people who worked there. I applied for one of those jobs the next day, and I got it.
* Address any perceived holes in your background. You might directly tell the employer, “I know you’re looking for x, but …”
* I’ve also been on the other side of this, where candidates had loose experience relating to the job and what I was looking for. But made little or no effort to target their materials to the position.
If they had revised their resumes to be relevant, I likely would have given them some consideration and kept them in mind for anything more appropriate in the future. But instead, they got “minus points” for not being smart enough to do something fairly basic.