A recruiter has a job I might want, but I don't know how to do it.
March 7, 2014 7:07 PM   Subscribe

An internal recruiter at Apple has contacted me about a job in an area that I am very interested in, but am not qualified to do. What do I tell him?

The role is mathematical and is at the intersection of hardware and lower level software. It also involves new algorithm development in a very specific domain that I've never worked in.

I am good at Cocoa and OSX programming and have an applied math degree from a sort of lousy college. I have two iPhone apps in the store. I'm a decent hacker but not actually that great at applied math or coming up with novel algorithms. I've not done anything low level since my hardware org class, and that was all pretend assembler.

I am not sure why he is contacting me about this role. Maybe he just needs to hit some numbers? Or maybe they need a guy on the team to do some of the easy stuff? Maybe Apple actually hires people to learn things on the job? I find it strange that he picked me out of all people, because nothing on my publicly available resume suggests I have the right background. Maybe he's simply contacted me in mistake?

In any case, I would like to seize this opportunity. But how should I approach it? Should I say yes, I want to chat, but what's up? Why me? Should I move forward without mentioning any trepidation, risking completely blowing it? (I once bombed an interview badly at a gaming company, and had the same concerns about lack of background which proved to be correct.) At what point do I mention that if I'm not qualified for the main job, I would be up for doing something else on the team, even being something like the build manager? ( or even a manager?)
posted by BabeTheBlueOX to Work & Money (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Should I move forward without mentioning any trepidation, risking completely blowing it?

Not being offered a job after an interview is not "completely blowing it." Full stop.

Why me?

The literal answer to this is that the recruiter found certain keywords in your resume that matched the job description and they emailed you. Recruiters, in general, don't actually know what any of the terms on the resume mean. Their job is to get leads, and the recruiter is doing that.

That said, does it really matter? The worst that happens here is you aren't contacted after you respond to the recruiter. That is not a failure. Not pursuing jobs when they are available and when you are looking for a new job is a failure.
posted by saeculorum at 7:15 PM on March 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

Recruiters frequently use a shotgun approach. You're not the only one he contacted. And he is way less technical than you.

That said, just be honest. Explain your strengths and weaknesses. The team that interviews you will determine if you are a fit for what they're looking for. There will be a technical phone interview first, but if you have two apps in the store that should not be a problem for you.

If this is a job you're excited about you're halfway there. We all learn on the job. I say go for it. Don't be self deprecating, but don't lie either. The key is to put on the table what you're good at, what you haven't done yet, and what excites you.

There may be other opportunities, but you'll find starting the process over from scratch is probably easier.
posted by jeffamaphone at 7:17 PM on March 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yeah, what saeculorum said. Don't worry if you don't get an offer. I got no-hired by them. And I'm awesome.
posted by jeffamaphone at 7:20 PM on March 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

Just go for it. The recruiter is the first of many, many steps in the process. And if people like you but you're not qualified they may refer you to a different role.

The odds are not in your favour. But let them turn you down. For now you are awesome. Answer all their questions and be your best self. It's up to them to say you're not the right person.
posted by GuyZero at 8:00 PM on March 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

Do it! This is something that you'll have a better idea of after talking to the recruiter. If it turns out you're not a perfect fit for the role anyway, he can refer you to one of his coworkers who's recruiting for a related, but different position. That's something you'll find out BEFORE going through any serious technical interviewing, though. At least that's what happened to me, having gone through this process at $BIGTECHCOMPANY.

And don't mention to the recruiter your bewilderment (or trepidation, as you put it) at being fished out of the great LinkedIn sea for this role -- there's really absolutely no need. Just be honest and upfront about what you can and can't do and let them decide whether to call you in.
posted by un petit cadeau at 8:43 PM on March 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Apple will not fine you if you turn out not to be the right fit for the job. They will not add you to the Big Secret List Of People Never To Hire. They can't get mad at you for not fulfilling the requirements of the job that they called you about.

Here's one of the dirty little secrets about hiring -- most positions are at least a little aspirational, so even if you don't match every requirement, go ahead and try for it anyway.
posted by Etrigan at 10:05 PM on March 7, 2014 [7 favorites]

Should I move forward without mentioning any trepidation, risking completely blowing it?

Blowing it is failing badly on dimensions like honesty, or basic reliability. On the other hand, Finding out that you aren't a fit for a specific job will get you passed over for just that specific job.

If you don't overstate your qualifications, you probably can't hurt yourself here.
posted by grudgebgon at 6:02 AM on March 8, 2014

Move forward. You miss 100% of the shots you don't take. There is something compelling about your resume/linkedin and this recruiter wants to talk to you.

Even Apple doesn't hire one recruiter per job, and chances are even if you're not right for THIS position, you might be perfect for another position, either now, or in the future.

When you first start up your conversation, ask upfront, "I have a pretty non-traditional resume, what about it piqued your interest?"

I was hired for my current job, working with a program I had never even HEARD of, based upon my previous experiences.

Ask a lot of questions, not from the perspective of someone who's not worthy, but about the specifics of the position.

You never know.

If it turns out that it's not a match, simply say, "It's my dream to work at Apple, so if anything else comes up in the future, please keep me in mind."

Another thing to ask, would be, "what kind of future training would you recommend to make me more marketable to Apple."

Good Luck!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:08 AM on March 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

I have talked with people at both Apple and Google (and other bay area tech companies), and I think it's probably safe to go forward with this interview if the position sounds like it's something interesting for you to look at.

If it were at Google, I would tell you no, because they reportedly have a much more strict policy of not interviewing people for a new position anywhere in the company if they've had a failed interview within the past year or so. But at Apple, things are much more segmented, so even if you fail an interview with Group X, it's still possible for a recruiter with Group Y to call you up for an interview if they think you're a good match.

It is true though, that the recruiters might just mark you down for a position without having you match the requirements particularly well. That also happened with me, and once I went ahead with the phone interview, I was asked a slew of questions about experience the manager wanted but I did not have and never even remotely claimed to have on my resume. It was a bit of a frustrating phone interview.

So I would say go for it, but realize that the person you end up talking to may well be more interested in the requirements than the recruiter was.
posted by that girl at 9:05 AM on March 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Talk to the recruiter, express enthusiasm for the company, ask him what about your resume piqued his interest, and answer his questions honestly. At the end of the chat, ask him if it seems like a match, and if his answer is "not sure yet" or "no" then et him know that even if the role he was calling about wasn't a match, you'd love a chance to talk to them about a role that could use [your best skills.]
posted by fingersandtoes at 2:49 PM on March 8, 2014

And do let us know how it goes.
posted by jeffamaphone at 11:16 AM on March 9, 2014

Google has a policy of only considering a candidate for a position every 6 months, but people get referred into different positions all the time. There are definitely limits, but not a lot of them. Most companies are similar.
posted by GuyZero at 7:48 AM on March 10, 2014

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