Hi! I’m Suzanne.
I am an executive recruiter and career advancement coach.
My life’s mission is to teach the best and brightest professionals how to manage their careers so they can accelerate, advance and grow in their dream career.
How to Get the Interview When You Don’t Meet All of the Requirements
The Good News
Even when you don’t meet all the requirements in the job description, career advancement (whether it’s a promotion or a career change) is possible.
Successful executives have figured out how to get the job, even when they don’t meet all of the traditional requirements. Take Meg Whitman, who took over as CEO of HP in 2011.
Meg had NEVER led a large enterprise software company, but she HAD built a high growth, consumer facing company. As HP doubled down on their shift away from consumers to focus more on enterprise software and cloud computing, one might think the board would want someone with enterprise expertise. Instead, they went for something different. They wanted a technology visionary. As one board member put it, “Meg is a technology visionary with a proven track record of execution,” he said. “She is a strong communicator who is customer focused with deep leadership capabilities. Furthermore, as a member of HP’s board of directors for the past eight months, Meg has a solid understanding of our products and markets.”
What did Meg do right? She didn’t try to pitch herself as an expert in the enterprise software space, but she did spend 8 months gaining in-depth knowledge on the space. She was positioning herself well for CEO of HP, or any other company that may have been seeking a technology visionary. Instead of focusing exclusively on the details of her experience, Meg and other successful executives know that there’s something to be said for the TYPE of work they do. In this case, Meg drives visionary technology to market.
Remember the Movie Office Space?
Remember in Office Space, that Jennifer Anniston’s character Joanna has to wear a certain number of pieces of flair? They’re (theoretically) supposed to be about your perspective, personality, ideals. Joanna of course, isn’t into the flair because the options don’t represent who she truly is. I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but take a page out of Office Space, and start getting clear on your unique, genuine pieces of flair.
What are the things in your background that make you uniquely you?
For example, I bring a global perspective to the table, which isn’t always something that’s valued, but when I meet the right company, one that ALSO excites me, I find that my “flair” is something they place value on, are looking for and plan to utilize should I join the team. Other examples include companies looking for someone who is a builder, a change agent, or data-driven.
So How Does This Apply to You?
BE UNIQUELY YOU.
Remember that your career path has had it’s own set of interesting experiences. With 10 – 20 years of experience under your belt, you bring a UNIQUE skillset to the table that is unmatched by almost everyone else.
So don’t try to be everything to everyone, try to be YOU for the company that needs someone like you.
Aside from technology visionary and global perspective, you might consider yourself a builder (are you great at scaling in a high growth environment?), optimizer (do you like to fix things and make them the best they can be?), transformer/change agent (do you help turn things around when a company is in dire straits?) or data-driven (not everyone is).
HERE’S THE BEST PART:
Companies will often pay a PREMIUM for someone willing to make a career change away from their historic focus (i.e. consumer technology, in the case of Meg Whitman). From the company’s perspective, they’re asking someone to do something entirely new/different, and that could take the person out of the career path they had imagined for themselves. It’s hard to find people who are willing to take that risk.
If you’re looking for a career change, you might not tick all the boxes on EVERY job description you read, but when your “flair” matches up with the company, they may be willing to overlook some of those empty check boxes AND pay you a premium for your “flair”.
Dealing with the Naysayers
This is a fundamental shift in thinking. Everyone who says “those jobs require experience in X, and you don’t have it” is speaking in broad general terms. Essentially what I’m telling you is that in most cases, 80% of jobs in your desired space require the status quo. But you don’t need 80% of job openings to fit your background. In fact, you only need 1 job to perfectly align with your background. And more often than not, there’s far more than 1 job out there to suit YOUR requirements. So, if you’re lacking 10 years experience leading an enterprise software company, instead of looking at that empty check box as a weakness, flip the script and start seeing your “out of the box” thinking and approach to business as a strength.
You don’t need to get called for EVERY interview, you need to get called for the RIGHT interviews. Sure, if you’re making a career change, you likely aren’t qualified for 80% of the jobs that are out there in your desired space. BUT, there will be some that are looking for a fresh perspective, or something different, and THOSE jobs are the ones you want.
You want someone to bring you in BECAUSE of your expertise, NOT in SPITE of it.