I had coffee last week with a candidate who was really frustrated because he had applied for lots of positions and not been contacted.
I asked him to tell me about one of them. “Well, it was a mechanical engineering position in a manufacturing company.”
“What were they looking for?” I asked.
“An engineering degree and 5 years of design experience in a plastics manufacturing environment. It was perfect for me. It’s exactly the kind of company I want to work for. I can’t understand why they have not called me yet for an interview.”
As we continued the conversation, I learned that while he did have experience in plastics, it was in equipment design not product design and that he did not have an engineering degree.
So at the risk of sounding harsh, I told him why he had not been called. There were three criteria listed in the posting and he met only one. In a resume sorting system, whether it’s human or digital, he won’t make the cut.
“But that’s not fair!” he wailed. “I would be perfect for the role!”
That may be true but if you are replying to a posting where there are clear specifications, you better have most of them if you want to be considered. Companies have reasons for their criteria and it really does not matter whether you think you are perfect or whether the criteria is justified.
If you are an “out of the box” candidate, then you need to apply in an “out of the box” method. If your resume does not make the kind of impression you want to make, then you need to make your first impression in a different way.
Find someone who can introduce you to a hiring influencer. Speak at a conference or workshop. Post a comment on a Linkedin discussion or write an article for your specific audience. These avenues allow your expertise, handshake, eye contact, stature and general aura to make the first impression.
Bottom line: At the application stage, it does not matter if you think you are perfect for the role. What matters is that there is a clear fit between your experience/credentials and the company’s criteria.