Blanchard & Walker Weekly

Topic of the Week  Firing Blanks--What To Do When You Lack the Required Experience

DO have a strategy for dealing with a real experience gap.
DO have a strategy for a perception gap.
DO have a strategy for a negative bias gap.
DON'T coast if you don't have a gap, make a plan.
 

Been told that you lack the experience needed to get hired? At the same time, we all know people who seem to be the exception to the rule, because they didn't meet the requirements but they still got hired. Which reminds me of when a man called 911 saying that he'd been robbed. He was walking along Route 225 and someone put a gun to his head and demanded money. However, police noticed inconsistencies in his story and it wasn't long before the man admitted that he'd made it all up. Turns out the guy had run out of cell phone minutes and he concocted the story to get a ride home.

That guy did end up getting a ride. Unfortunately it was to jail. Lucky for you there is an option outside of lying about your experience that will get you hired. But the key is to understand the "gap" so you can build the best strategy to minimize it. I've listed three Do's and one Don't for landing a job even when you don't meet the requirements. For more, check out Matheson and Finney's book, "Unlocking the Hidden Job Market" (FT Press, 2009).

DO have a strategy for dealing with a real experience gap. Before I got my MBA I would often be asked about my business expertise. One line that I found that worked was to say that I had a "clinical degree" in management. This often intrigued employers and would give me the chance to describe both my management positions and my personal studies in management theory. Sure some people didn't buy it, but you'd be surprised how many employers gave me a hearing.

DO have a strategy for a perception gap. Not all gaps are the same. For example, many of us actually do have the experience to do the job, it's just that the employer doesn't believe that our experience applies to the circumstances for the job that we're applying for. For example, I had a friend who was a radio producer. Many companies didn't see how this applied to working for their firm. My friend got very talented at showing how she met deadlines, worked under pressure and came up with new ideas on a moments notice.

DO have a strategy for a negative bias gap. There is a lot of bias out there, sexual, racial, socio-economic and against certain industries. Yes, banking, I'm talking to you. Again the key to being successful in fighting a negative bias gap is to find out what the bias is. Often it is unspoken. The best way to discover this is when an interview is clearly not going well. That's your chance to ask probing questions that may help you get the next job.

DON'T coast if you don't have a gap, make a plan. Have all the required expertise? Then it's your job to apply your experience to solving their problems.

Follow these tips and you'll get the ride you need, into a great new job.

About The Author: Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning workplace911.com. Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, "The Boss's Survival Guide." If you have a question for Bob, contact him via bob@workplace911.com.

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–James Joyce

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