I was working with a resume client last week, and he had brought several job descriptions with him that interested him. Two of them were directly related to his most recent work. But when I looked at the other ones, I asked him why he thought he would be a good fit for them. His response was that he had done things very similar, or had done the same job many years ago in his career.
I hear this a lot. Candidates know they “can do it”. Usually it is a job they have done in the past, or something that they have already wanted to get into. Many people don’t understand that right now, in this economy, there are so many skilled candidates with an almost perfect fit to a job description, that just because someone believes they are a perfect fit for a job, doesn’t mean they are.
Let’s say you are looking at a job as an Project Manager for a global telecommunications company. You have been a software architect in a small business that creates business solutions for airline reservation systems. Now, fifteen years ago, you started as a business analyst at a local phone company. You are interested in moving from hands-on coding into a formal Project Management role, and you feel that your exposure to the industry fifteen years ago, coupled with the fact that you’ve been acting as a project lead for the last three years should make you a great candidate to consider for this role.
From a recruiting standpoint, I wouldn’t even look at your resume even if you came up in a keyword search. Why? Because I have over 18 applicants from T-Mobile and AT & T Wireless that have an average of 7-10 years of Project Management experience and all of them have a certification that is listed in the job description.
Let’s say you have been a lab assistant in a local biotech company, and you see that one of the local community hospitals is looking for a shift lead in their lab, and you think this is the perfect opportunity for you to make a forward move. You submit your resume, thinking that you are the perfect candidate for the job.
But here’s the thing. A community hospital most likely gets some sort of federal funding, and in the last 3-4 years, the federal government has put some EEOC and Affirmative Action mandates in place that means that the hospital must prove that it is seriously considering all qualified applicants for the job posted. And the job is for a lead, requiring at least 2 years of lead experience in a hospital setting. You work for a biotech company and have never had the lead title, so you aren’t even a “qualified candidate”.
So just because you think you *can* do a job, or you really really want to do a job, that isn’t what a recruiter sees when they are evaluating candidates. We are looking for those professionals that can come into a job and have the functional skill set for the position. If you are looking to make a career move, your best bet is to stay with your current employer and get a promotion if at all possible. If there is no further career track, you should be considering lateral moves to similar organizations in your industry with growth potential. With so many “picture perfect” candidates out there, your chances of being noticed for the centerfold photo op are pretty slim.
A Degree Is Not A Substitute For Experience
Being A Good Candidate
This article also appears on