Close counts in horseshoes and job hunting?
October 5, 2009 8:24 PM   Subscribe

Job-Filter. How to best display your skills when you have close to what they want?

anon because of colleagues who are on/read AskMe. I am currently employed but am starting to look at something that might suit me better. I have found a few jobs that I believe I am well suited for. Several have a longish list of skills and qualifications that aren't often found together and I have them (yay!). The problem is that I am looking at a different industry from where I am now (though there is some overlap in tasks and subject matter) and I'm not a complete match on one (or sometimes several) qualifications. I guess a good example would be if they want someone who can grow grapes, sing tenor, design evening gowns, and perform surgery on toes while I can grow grapes, sing tenor, design evening gowns, and operate on ankles. How can I highlight the "operates on feet" thing and show my "ankle" expertise is relevant to "toes"? Do I even try to highlight it or just mention my other qualifications?
Apologies if this is wordy and awkard. Haven't job hunted in a while.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (5 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
You might want to use a functional CV. A quick google search will bring up lots of tips for writing one and sample functional CVs to give you a good idea of how to present your qualifications as easily transferable skills to your objective job.
posted by meerkatty at 8:46 PM on October 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'd include the info in the resume of course, but focus on writing a really excellent cover letter. Try to convey to them how you, as an expert and enthusiast of four things you thought you'd never see together, were really excited to see this opportunity to use three-and-a-half of them and learn the details of toe operating as well. The quality of the cover letter can really inspire the person reading resumes to take more time to see what you've put on yours. Attention to the cover letter would be what I'd recommend for somebody who's changing fields, as well - a way to acknowledge your interest in job A, your background in field B, and the factors x,y that tie it all together.

Personally, I've found that I can't make my points as well if I'm being super-formal and busting out the extra-long vocabulary words and the convoluted sentances that show my grammatical correct long-windedness. Be correct and polite, but there's no need to aim for 1820's High Society Manners. Be straightforward, as clear as possible, and keep in mind that there will be someone reading that letter who will, (especially if your papers make it past the HR desk, but even in HR to some extent) be someone with similar interests to yours, who you would hopefully get along with. You're writing a letter to someone you don't know, but they are a person also. Imagine yourself at a party, and someone who you hadn't met before, but who seems like someone you'd like to know, mentions that this job exists. Think about what you'd say to them about you and that job - in fact, imagine the whole conversation, what they might ask or comment on. Make this letter into how you wish that conversation would go.
posted by aimedwander at 7:14 AM on October 6, 2009 [3 favorites]

Ha! I can't even write "gramatically correct" right!

Did I mention you should edit the heck out of it? Preferably several hours (or a day) after you write it?
posted by aimedwander at 7:16 AM on October 6, 2009

Make it easy for the HR person (or whoever in the company you are sending your CV to). Tailor the cover letter and the CV. What I found useful was taking the advertised job spec and breaking it down in the cover letter or e-mail e.g.

Expertise in grape growing.

I have 5 years experience in the grape field and have succesfully grown vinyards of up to...

Singing tenor.

I have over 3 years experience singing both solo and in groups...

The point of the exercise is so that the gatekeeper sees you as a no-brainer for moving into the 'interview' pile rather than the 'hell no' or 'maybe later' pile. The gatekeeper/recruiter/HR may not be that clued up in the specifics of the role (and could be put off by superficial differences such as existing field) and you want to make it easy for them to say "yes" to you and to justify it to the people who will do the interview. Even if they are experts you will still be able to save them time (no-one relishes reading the 20th CV in a pile).

All this saves the hiring person time (making them will disposed to you), shows you have put effort/thought in and hopefully increases the chances of getting invited to the interview.

Best of luck!
posted by Gratishades at 7:53 AM on October 6, 2009

I think a T-letter best highlights all the qualifications you do have, and allows you to succinctly address the part you don't meet exactly. Here's an example.

So with this type of letter, you have a 2-column table. The first column is "Your Requirements" and the second column is "My Qualifications". In the row for the "perform surgery on toes" requirement, write your qualifications as, for example, "Skilled surgeon, with 3 years experience. Fully understand bone structures and modern surgical techniques. Most experience was in feet."

The benefit to the T-letter is that the reader kinda sees it as a checklist, in which you've put something down for each of the requirements. It's very obvious at a glance that you meet all the other requirements, and you are able to address the one you kinda meet by pointing to the similarities.

Good luck!
posted by Houstonian at 10:25 AM on October 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

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