JOB SEARCH / APR. 03, 2014
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How to Overcome Degree Requirements in Job Ads

You read the job ad, and then realise that you have all the soft skills needed: attention to detail, impeccable IT skills, excellent communication skills, proactive mindset, and so on but unluckily you don’t have the MBA that is essential for landing the job.

It is true that most employers use the ad as a strong qualifier to draw the best candidates from the large pool of applications they receive. The Connecticut-based job coach Judi Perkins explains that “the company hopes the list of requirements will deter the bulk of the unrealistic submittals”.

If you really have everything it takes to do the job but the certifications or degree, should not discourage you from applying. Here are some words of wisdom to help you increase your chances of getting hired:

Find Alternatives

First of all, try to match as many requirements from the job specification as possible to alternatives. For example, if the employer requests that you know a specific software application that you are not acquainted with, find another comparable application or showcase a success where you had no experience in using an application but learned it quickly. Also, if you don’t have a certain degree, give specific examples showing how you managed to fulfill your role despite this.

From that, come up with talking points to use in cover letters and interviews. The idea is that you show them how your on-the-job experience compensates for the degree requirements of the post your applying for.

Get the Inside Scoop

Using someone from the inside of the company as a connecting link to the hiring manager is an ideal way of securing a meeting with the decision makers. Grab this opportunity to get recommended by someone the interviewer knows and trusts and develop a more personal relationship with the HR people of the company. In this way, you will be able to explain in detail the situation with your qualifications and assure them that your overall experience and skills add similar if not more value than the specific qualification needed for the job.    

Ask People to Review Your Resume

Before making the application, make sure that your resume is in line with the job requirements. To verify this, ask a person – preferably your connection – to read your resume and figure out whether it matches the job description. It is important that your reader can easily get your skills and experiences on the resume and if not, you need to make the necessary changes so that these are easy to digest when someone reads your resume. Don’t forget to ask your connection what the hiring manager would particularly like to hear from you or expect you to have. From this, figure out how to best present and market yourself.

Show You are Highly Adaptable

Another good way to get more persuasive and seem trustable in the eyes of the employer is to showcase your ability to learn new things and acquire new skills. Use any phase in your career when you had extreme career makeover or changes in the industries you have worked for to evidently show your adaptability. This will prove that even if you don’t have the credentials sought by the employer, you can evolve and further your skills and knowledge. Having references who can attest to your adaptability is also a great idea for boosting up the third party’s credibility.

Don’t Worry About What you are Missing

Finally, having a positive attitude throughout the entire job search process is key to writing a persuasive resume or winning the job interviewer. According to Perkins, potential negative thoughts are reflected in your behaviour, choice of words and tone of voice. She notes that “If you have most of the requirements and success stories from your previous jobs, then you have something to contribute”. Last but not least she urges you to “focus confidently on what you’ve got rather than worry about what you’re missing”.

All in all, bending an employer’s view about a specific degree requirement is not an easy task to do. But planning in advance, finding equal alternative qualifications, engaging in proactive networking, asking other’s opinion about your resume and having a positive attitude are all a must to successfully market yourself as a capable candidate.

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