A reader writes:
Reading one of your older posts about those who may be a bit under-qualified for a job, you said that the applicant has to offer a way that they can make up for their lack in experience. Can you give a few examples of what you mean by that? Would offering to start below the starting end of the salary range be a good idea?
Noooo, do not offer to take a lower salary than what they’re planning on. Hiring managers want to hire the best person for the job, they’ve budgeted a certain amount for the position, and they’re not going to take a weaker candidate just because she offers to work for less than the budgeted salary. At least no good hiring manager is going to do that.
The reality is that it’s pretty hard to get hired for jobs that you’re under-qualified for in this market. (The post I think you read was from 2007, when the job market was different.) When employers are flooded with highly qualified applicants, there’s no incentive for them to consider someone less qualified. So if you really consider yourself under-qualified, you might be looking at the wrong jobs. You’re going to have the best chances applying for jobs that you’re qualified for; you don’t have to be a perfect match, but you should be fairly close.
However, there are degrees of qualified. If they want 10 years of experience and you have two years, this probably isn’t the job for you. But if they want 3-5 years of experience and you have two years, and you can write a really good cover letter and point to excellent achievements in those two years, go ahead and apply.
But those caveats about the really good cover letter and the achievements? Those are the key.
Overall, the idea here is to put yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes. What should make them excited about hiring you? That’s what needs to be reflected in your cover letter and your resume. If you can’t figure out why they should be excited about hiring you, then there’s no way you can expect them to figure it out — and that means you need to move on to a different opening, one where you can make a compelling case for yourself.