If you’ve got what they’re really looking for, apply

Q: I have loads of experience in my area (business management with a speciality in Financial Management) but I don’t have a scrap of paper to prove my worth. I went into a company at 18 years of age and progressed up through the ranks. Now, as the job market shrinks, I notice all these advertisements where they are asking for people with third level degrees. This has really put me off applying for jobs, even though I know I can do some of the roles I have seen. What should I do? (MM, email)

A: You have outlined a very common scenario. It appears that as more and more candidates become available, and employers realise it is now a buyer’s market, adverts tend to reflect a kind of ‘wish list’ approach by employers.

However, you should not be deterred by this as employers often find they do not get the exact person they had outlined in the advertisement. They have to ‘lower the bar’ or ‘change the goalposts’ as the process unfolds.

Indeed, a recent Harvard Business Review management ‘tip of the day’ (http://hbr.org/tip) recommended to employers that they should not engage in this approach. Instead, they urged a much pragmatic approach to find the candidate.

Insightful employers know that elaborate job descriptions can have the effect of scaring off, rather than attracting, the best candidates.

Our advice would always be to apply for a job if you feel you can do it. We regularly hear from people, who applied for jobs without having the outlined qualifications, and still got called for interview and, in some cases, got the job.

In job searching it is all about putting your best foot forward, letting them know what you have and making the most of that: your previous successes, your achievements, the roles with which you have been entrusted. If you wish, you may refer in your cover letter to the absence of the qualifications they are looking for, but ask them to consider you based on your experience and other positive factors.

You may be pleasantly surprised how many employers will give you a chance to compete and, as we always say; once you get to the interview it is ‘may the best person win’. At interview stage all sorts of things can happen and you could easily tip the balance in your favour based on your strong points.

Sli Nua Careers top tip

Here, we are merely passing on what we heard a gentleman say at a recent training course we conducted: have a copy of your CV to hand at all times.

“I always carry one with me,” he said.

You never know the day or the hour. A good salesperson always has a brochure or two in the car or in the breast pocket. In job-searching, you are a salesperson, the product is you, and the brochure is your CV.

We thought his suggestion was the essence of common-sense.

Sli Nua Careers offer CV preparation, interview training and mock interview services at their offices in Galway, Dublin and Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo. You can also obtain their free eBook providing Job Searching Tips by emailing getthatjob@slinuacarers.com with Job Searching eBook in the subject line. More: www.slinuacareers.com