There’s an old ‘Seinfeld’ episode where George quit his job in Real Estate and is trying to decide what career he would like to go into next. He and Jerry are sitting around a coffee table while George throws out ideas of what he thinks he could do. They discuss his desires to be a Professor, an Architect, a Major League Baseball Manager, and several other things. He thinks he has applicable skills for any one of them. The only problem is he has no experience or real qualifications for any of them. Watching the show, the viewer clearly understands that George no grasp of reality.
However, very often, when people are looking at jobs in ads or online. They apply to all kinds of things with the same kind of disconnect. They think “I can do that!” without giving thought to how their background looks to the potential employer.
Maybe you CAN do that, but if your resume doesn’t clearly show evidence of that fact, you will NOT be getting a call. Additionally, consider how your resume looks for the job compared to the perhaps dozens of others that are applying that have actually done the same job at another company.
Particularly in today’s job market, employers are both looking for the closest (safest) match to hire for their openings, and getting piles of what look like wildly unqualified applicants. When people are desperate to get a job, any job, they often greatly stretch what they think they are qualified to do. When a recruiter or hiring manager scans resume after resume that doesn’t appear to fit the role, they naturally begin scanning each one even quicker. So unless a resume screams "QUALIFIED” right from the outset, it will not get much attention.
So… does that mean you should never apply for a position that isn’t an exact match to your background? Not at all! It does mean that you will have to be very deliberate about communicating your qualifications much more effectively than someone that has a more obvious background.
Here are a couple of suggestions:
~ You will be much more effective communicating your relevant skills to a live person verbally than your resume ever can. Network effectively and find the right person within the organization to contact directly so that you can have an actual conversation rather than applying to a database.
~ If you must apply online, make sure your resume shows the skills related to the position very prominently. Use their job description to clearly connect the dots for them between your related skills and/or experience and their stated requirements. Use the same keywords they use, and emphasize successes.
If you are able to make a compelling case that your skills, background, and experience will make you successful in the role, you have a chance to be considered. However, be realistic, and if you can not make a clear cut case for them, then don’t bother applying. You must know, and be able to effectively communicate why you are a better hire than anyone else.