Sometimes you know you can handle or even excel at a certain job, but your resume does not clearly demonstrate that. Maybe your skills and background don’t look like the qualifications traditionally sought out by employers in that field, or maybe your degree does not match what’s looked for.
That makes it harder to get an interview, but not impossible. If you can actually do the work the job requires, it’s possible to work your way into an interview.
Of course, there are cases where no amount of plotting, planning, and finagling will work. You can’t get hired as a surgeon without a medical degree, and driving a truck requires a proper license. In most cases where the skills aren’t quite as specific, however, there are tactics you can use to kick the door open, giving you a chance to nail an interview.
1. Use your cover letter
If you’re not a traditional candidate, address that from the get-go in your cover letter. Make a case for why you’re qualified, even though you have not followed a traditional path to the job. Address the specific skills required and draw a direct line to how you obtained them.
You should also highlight any other skills or abilities you have that someone else may not. Be bold: You’re trying to get someone to take a chance on you, so there is no sense in holding anything back.
2. Work your network
If someone who knows you (and can personally vouch for you) and they also know someone involved in the hiring process, that could land you an interview. Leverage your network by letting your professional and personal contacts know you’re looking for job prospecting help.
Sometimes, even a simple social media post asking if anyone knows anyone at the target company can lead to a contact. Sometimes even the loosest connection can be enough for someone to at least offer you an interview.
3. Be active
If you’re an outside candidate, it pays to make bold moves. In your cover letter, offer to do a tryout, or complete a freelance project. Consider offering more than a cover letter, like including a plan for how you’ll handle your first 100 days, or even a breakdown for the first year.
This tactic could easily backfire, though. You could be seen as pushy, or simply be ignored. That’s OK. You’re trying to get noticed, and that means taking risks.
Be bold, but reasonable
It’s one thing to reach for a job that you’re qualified for in a non-traditional way. It’s another thing entirely to over-reach. It’s great to be confident, but you also have to be realistic.
You can’t be an astronaut just because you love Star Wars — but you don’t have to stay entirely in your lane. Getting interviews for reach jobs is hard, and you will fail more often than you succeed, but that shouldn’t discourage you from continuing to try.
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