Not the perfect candidate for the job? Wait. Maybe you are!


The hiring specs for many jobs are really just a wish list.  They are a way to try and pin down a definition of the superhero who might be able to accomplish the job that needs filling. And actually for the HR recruiter person – this may be all they know about the position. They can’t know the ins and outs of the specifics of every job they are charged with filling, so they have to work with some kind of specific tangible parameters. And they are the gatekeepers so we must do our best for them.

But really: the list of how many years of particular experience in a particular niche with a particular toolset and this and such educational qualification and the specified leadership abilities and so on – there may be no one at all who fits this exact bill.

Besides, the boss who needs to get the position filled just wants someone who can ace the job – they are less concerned about precision matching to the checklist. So a candidate could be just what they need, and yet not a perfect match for the specs.

So as this not-exactly-perfect-but-really-a-superhero candidate you need to get to the person who has the problem. This article is not about how to get around the recruiter – you will have to manage that yourself, and how you do it will be a nice measure of your ability to work the system and not make enemies. You do need to get as near to the person who owns the problem and engage yourself with their problem as early as you can. Find out what she needs, what’s keeping her up nights – find out where her group or project is headed. Find out what the challenges are and what her hopes are for the position – get beyond the definitions in the job specs. Then give her a taste of what you can do. Start to float some methods and ideas. Let them see what you are made of.

Stop thinking of yourself as a supplicant who is trying to compensate for the mismatches and start to think of yourself as the caped crusader who is already trying to do the job and really can make the bosses headaches go away.

So even if you are not their perfect-on-paper candidate – your task is to persuade them that you are nonetheless the perfect person for the job.