Are You Good Enough?
So you have applied for a job even though your experience doesn’t meet the requirements for the role but your excellent cover letter has landed you an interview. Immediately you are over the moon – how wonderful that someone recognizes your potential and knows how wonderful you are! Then reality sets in – you have an interview – but you don’t have the experience required for the job – are you good enough? Thankfully there are a few ways you can get over this, here are some tips…
Think – why are they interviewing me
There must be something either in your cover letter or on your CV which has told the employer not to rule you out – what you need to do is demonstrate in the interview you can do the job. The way you can do this is to study the job description and get a full understanding or what the job will entail. Then you need to think of the experience you have gained in your career to date and try to make a list of common duties and how your experience covers these, make sure you stress this experience in your interview.
Narrow the gaps in your knowledge
Prepare in advance to reduce the knowledge you lack. Is there industry jargon you don’t understand? Find out what it means. Know what your employer does – adapt your experience to suit their industry. Research areas of the role you are unfamiliar with so that you at least know in theory what these duties entail. The employer will be impressed with the effort you have put in and this could help with you getting a job offer.
Flog your transferable skills
Transferable skills are a critical discussion point in an interview, but you need to present them in a really positive way so they compensate for the experience you are lacking. Key skills to stress are computer knowledge, reporting, customer service and administration all of these skills are easily transferred. It could be that having the basic skills will be enough to land you the job. Maybe the employer would actually prefer to train someone in the role as they won’t have preconceived ideas of what the job is all about and will bring fresh ideas. Maybe that’s the reason they are interviewing you!
Sell added skills
An added skill is something unique that you can bring to the table, think about your career – what in your experience would add value and cover for your lack of knowledge – could it simply be impressive networking contacts, experience gained with a competitor or a second language. There must be something that you have to offer that other people do not. Think about it and make sure you identify what extra skills you have to offer and flog them heavily.
Perfect your likeability skills
Sometimes it’s not all about what you know it’s about whether you will fit in with the rest of the team. It helps enormously if you are likeable. So work hard at your social skills, this includes smiling, shaking hands, appearing engaged, listening to what’s being said to you and your body language. More people than you can imagine get jobs because the person that interviewed them liked them than got jobs because they were expert in every single aspect of the role.
Offer to do a training course
Sometimes it may be necessary to put your hand up and say “actually I’ve never done that”. If you find yourself in this situation its not the end of the world as long as you can provide a solution and the obvious one is that you will learn the skill you don’t have. There are 100s of college training courses available and even more online ones. Frankly you can learn anything nowadays, from servicing your car through to making a wedding cake so I’m sure you can find a course available to fill this lack of experience.
Remember experience is not always measured in years
One of the biggest challenges young job seekers face is perhaps not having ‘enough’ experience never mind the right experience. Don’t worry about your qualifications being measured solely in terms of years of experience. Very often employers are not interested in the volume of experience a job applicant has, it’s whether they have the capability to do the job available. Twenty years experience vs two years experience seems like a no-brainer but often employers like to mold their employees, train them in their ways and on their systems. Lots and lots of experience is not always what employers want.
Embrace your inexperience
Rather than try to hide your lack of experience why not embrace it and use it as a reason for the employer to select you. At the end of the day you are motivated, you wouldn’t be applying for this role if you weren’t. This illustrates your determination, curiosity and commitment to learn and grow. And guess what? That’s exactly what a lot of employers are looking for.
Confidence is more important than experience
A common issue with many highly qualified job seekers is their lack of confidence when selling themselves in an interview. They often don’t think their past work experience is relevant. This is where your confidence can win over an employer. Confidence is intangible but demonstrates professionalism, social skills, communication skills, comfort working as a member of a team and excitement about the job you are applying for. This very often will overcome your lack of experience.
Show off your skills
To quote Richard Branson “most skills can be learned, but it is difficult to train people on their personality”. The skills he is talking about are hard skills gained by having the right experience. There are also soft skills though and include areas like problem solving, communication and leadership. Soft skills are becoming increasingly valuable to employers. Fortunately an interview gives you ample opportunity to demonstrate your abilities to listen, pay attention to detail and communicate effectively and these are the three most prized soft skills an employer wants.
For sure interviewing for a role that is a bit out of reach can be scary but if you are confident and put in the effort in you may find you are offered the job.
Happy job search!