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Ask the Headhunter: Can I get hired if I don’t meet all the requirements?

Nick Corcodilos started headhunting in Silicon Valley in 1979 and has answered over 30,000 questions from the Ask The Headhunter community.

In this special Making Sen$e edition of Ask The Headhunter, Nick shares insider advice and contrarian methods about winning and keeping the right job, on one condition: that you, dear Making Sense reader, send Nick your questions about your personal challenges with job hunting, interviewing, networking, resumes, job boards or salary negotiations. No guarantees — just a promise to do his best to offer useful advice.

Question: What do you do when the employer interviewing you has four requirements, you meet three of them, and you know that you’re the best person for the job? How can I turn this kind of situation into a job offer?

Nick Corcodilos: Isn’t this the way it goes? You are certain the job is a great fit, but the manager isn’t. I’ll let you in on a secret: Managers are not very good at figuring out whether a candidate really fits. This actually gives you the advantage. It lets you suggest to the manager that you should do a show-and-tell, rather than just answer questions about what’s on your resume (and in your experience).

Remember this: The key requirement for any job — whether anyone admits it or not — is the ability to actually do the work.

If you lack something an employer wants, but you’re a fit on other counts, don’t wait for the employer to decide to take a chance on you, or figure out what to do with you. She probably won’t.

Offer to demonstrate what you can do, and how you will do the work. Show her. Few job candidates ever do that in an interview. A good employer who’s looking for a confident, talented, dedicated worker will react well.

Ask the manager flat-out if she’s hesitating to hire you over that one point. Then explain that you’d like to prove you’re a fast learner and that your other skills will more than compensate for anything that might be lacking.

“May I take a few minutes to show you, right now, how I would do this job? If I can’t convince you, then you should not hire me.”

This is an incredibly powerful approach. Of course, it’s also risky and you must be prepared to do such a demonstration. How would you demonstrate your abilities?

Consider questions like these in advance of your interview, and make sure you have good answers:

  • Would you need to operate a computer or other machine? Ask to sit at the machine to show how you’d handle it.
  • Talk with a customer? Ask for a scenario you’d have to handle, and then show what you’d say to the customer.
  • Draw an outline of how you would perform a task? Ask what specific objective you’d have to achieve, then list the steps you’d follow.
  • Explain how you’d solve a particular problem? Draw a picture and show your plan.

Don’t let a missing requirement be your deal-breaker. Be ready to address challenges like those above, because this can be the deal-maker you need to land the job.

When an interviewer begins to lose interest, it’s up to you to turn things around. Stand and show you can deliver. If a manager doesn’t respond to that, go on to a better employer who will take notice of a candidate who’s ready to put it all on the line.

You can still apply for a job, and do a successful interview, even if you don’t match all the requirements — if you can show you can do the job nonetheless.

READ MORE: The shortcut to success in job interviews

Dear Readers: Is there a compelling substitute for qualifications or requirements? Have you ever won a job in spite of not having all the qualifications listed in the job description? How did you do it?

Nick Corcodilos invites Making Sense readers to subscribe to his free weekly Ask The Headhunter© Newsletter. His in-depth “how to” PDF books are available on his website: “How to Work With Headhunters…and how to make headhunters work for you,” “Keep Your Salary Under Wraps,” “How Can I Change Careers?” and “Fearless Job Hunting.”

Send your questions to Nick, and join him for discussion every week here on Making Sense. Thanks for participating!

Copyright © 2018 Nick Corcodilos. All rights reserved in all media. Ask the Headhunter® is a registered trademark.

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