1. Ignore the requirements
Women apply for jobs when they feel they meet 5/5 requirements, whereas with men, it’s 1/5. The only true requirements for a job is a) strong interest in the role, b) some way to tie your story together and c) your fit.
2. The spin
It’s not about what experiences you’ve had, but how you portray those experiences. Your choices should seem methodical. For example, how have your interests, passions and curiosity guided and led you from one experience/interest to the next?
- A good way to think about this is the functional ties between these experiences. The experiences don’t necessarily need to be in the same exact role or even the same field, but should still tie together (ie were you helping clients, consulting clients, selling products, researching, recruiting, managing projects, managing people, managing or promoting clients, seeking out new clients, analyzing, writing, innovating, or other skills that describes the job you are seeking).
- For instance, I took on a project in which I found myself consulting an institution on their operations for the betterment of the end user, so the next experience I took on was a strategic consulting undergraduate course, followed by an operations internship at a financial services firm, which is why I’ve found myself in an Operations role at a bank today, where I take on projects that improve efficiency and processes for the betterment of internal and external clients.
- Yes, it helps if you have done the exact role before, but in most cases one is not switching between firms to do the same exact job. Thus, it is necessary to explain how you got to this place, how you’re prepared for it (even though not explicitly), and why you want it.
The “spin” is not only your ability to show your decision making skills and your background. It is your chance to explain how you’ve realized you want to do this job. Companies want to truly believe you’re interested in a job so that you won’t just up and leave in a few months! They will see right through you if they know that is not the role or place for you and you try to play it off like it might be. Be honest with yourself.
3. Your fit
This is where people usually say “do your homework and research the company you’re interviewing at.” This is not only to not make a fool of yourself but it is so that you know, believe and then can sell why you fit in at that company. They want to feel like you already belong there.
- The only true way to do this may be to network with those in the firm itself to learn about it’s culture — the stuff they don’t say on the website but the feeling/traits/interests/skills that most if not all employees share. This part is about the intangibles; the personality of the firm. It’s the positive experiences someone at the firm has had because of being at that firm, or the realizations they’ve had about what makes their team or their day great.
This implies your ability to find folks to talk to in the firm before your interview. This is not always possible but get as creative as you can and hopefully there is someone you can talk to. Ensure to ask a lot of questions and get the real vibe of their work experience.
- Don’t forget — This needs to include your well roundedness, as most companies today want someone who is not only about the role they are taking on, but a person who has outside interests as well. For instance, find what makes that company different from others in its industry. Research what supplementary endeavors or investments the company is involved (such as philanthropic efforts).
Remember the similar functions or skills you’ve experienced or gained are transferrable, and the different environments or skills you’ve experienced or gained are valuable.