Dear Job Seekers: Stop Apologizing for the Experience You Don’t Have
You have been job hunting for a while now.
You have registered with several job boards but haven’t gotten the kind of job you are qualified for. You talk to your friends, consult your family and even read around online.
You finally realize the mistake you have been making all along.
You have been looking for the job that fits your qualifications. Unfortunately, you got none.
Job requirements are not tailored to your qualifications but to the employer’s requirements. It is them who are having a vacancy they want to fill. As such, they know the kind of person they want.
As though a light bulb went on in your mind, you discover the truth your friend told you. He also shared with you his own story as an example though you didn’t believe him.
It is true however that if you wait to perfectly qualify for a job, you are likely to remain unemployed.
To avoid this, you decide to change tack. But just so the hiring manager understands why you applied, you opt to explain yourself. You say that you recognize the requirement but since you are adequately skilled, you can do the job.
Will you get hired?
Why hiring managers seek experience
Hiring managers, and bosses in general, want to work with the best employees. Although great employees can be made by the company, they also exist naturally. Or they build themselves prior to getting hired.
Those who come already made (made here meaning experienced), are more attractive to the employer.
As it is said, experience is a pretty good teacher. When you handle a certain level of exposure and pressure, then you are likely to perform better. And better performers are what companies look for.
This is basic reasoning that has proven true. For example, a HR candidate who has been the supervisor of a 20-man team stands better chances than one straight from college. The reason is simple: the one who has been a supervisor knows the practical basics of handling people.
Although the other candidate may be more skilled, there is no way to prove that his skills are effective. They may as well be theoretic. He may be very skilled on paper but seriously lacking in practice. No manager will want to experience such a situation.
To keep productivity high, candidates with work experience are usually more likely to be hired compared to those lacking experience. It’s all about productivity. Saving time and lowering costs.
IS WORK EXPERIENCE IMPORTANT?
But is work experience really important? Is it worth ignoring the candidates who are quite skilled just because they lack the experience required?
There are some managers who would consider candidates who aren’t experienced but have a strong skills set. Others would not even look twice at a resume which doesn’t show the experience they are looking for.
At the heart of the matter, all hiring managers are human beings. And all humans have their unique inclinations and modes of operation. This is also seen in the HR decisions of different companies.
Where some companies focus on maximum profits, others consider improving their employees. They will train their employees to strengthen them for their roles though the received training can also benefit their personal lives.
These two differing views of business can easily dictate things like hiring decisions. They also dictate company policies.
So the issue of importance is really dependent on who you ask. Still, a look around will tell you that experience is quite important.
Does that mean that only those fulfilling all the requirements in the job description get hired?
No, some of those who get hired lack experience too. They however come up with ways of showing themselves to be good enough, if not better, than the other candidates.
When experience is important
Generally speaking, there are some instances where work experience is very necessary. In those cases, your application will absolutely be rejected and frowned upon. It will be taken as an irrelevant application.
And since there are many like those that reach HR managers, it is one of the reasons many of them started looking to recruiting firms. At least that way, they won’t have to deal with too many resumes which don’t even meet the basic requirements of the job. In other words, they won’t have to waste time.
But just when is work experience important and critical? We look at some example situations below.
1. When the company is looking for new growth – this is a critical time for the company. Growth in business is a strategic move that has to not only be well considered but also implemented. As such, the company cannot afford to just pick anyone.
Fortunately, this kind of situation is easy to spot even when the company has not openly declared it in the job post. Any position in the range of middle to top management should tell you that something is being done by the company and they really need experience.
2. When facing financially-challenging times – there are many times in the life of a business when finances need to be handled more keenly. Not only when the times are tough, but also when the times are good. Good times can also see finances ‘disappearing’ if the management isn’t careful enough.
But when the times are hard, serious decisions need to be made. The company needs someone who is adept at cutting costs without compromising on the quality of product or service delivery.
This becomes more serious when the company does not want to rush into cutting down on employee’s pay or increase the price of their products.
Probably the company is spending excess money in some things without knowing it. Someone experienced can help identify the mistakes being made and save the company lots of trouble with both staff and customers.
3. When a new department or team is being created – teamwork is the current buzzword in most businesses. And it is for a good reason. Focusing on individual employees has proven to yield less results than when focusing on teams.
It is easier and more efficient to leverage a team’s strength as opposed to the strengths of many individual people. When companies decide to develop new teams and realize that they don’t have the right person to implement their idea, they look outside.
At this point, they need someone who is not only a team leader but also a team builder. A builder experienced with the specific kind of a team they want to build. That becomes a very valid reason to seek experience.
4. When seeking to fend off the competition – in business, you can never be comfortable and think that your business will keep growing. Threats are always available. And if they aren’t, then they are being created and will soon emerge sooner than later.
As such, when a company seeks to hire people like marketing managers or PR managers, it is possible that they are looking for quick results. When the job description reads, “Online marketing expert,” believe them. They are really looking for an experienced expert.
It can also help to do a quick check on the industry the company is in. You can easily get the latest news online to inform you of what is happening in that industry. Still, you can get more insights in the detailed job descriptions if provided.
When experience is not important
In some instances, the stated work experience is merely a preference. For the hiring manager, if someone sees it and decides not to apply, then their work has been made easier. They will have fewer options to consider. It is also possible that the candidate was not the best bet.
Some of the job positions really do not need any experience. For example, what experience does a cleaner need? Or a messenger?
Well, if the company decides that they need someone with experience, they can come up with reasons for that.
For instance, for an office messenger, the reasons for experience could be that they need someone who knows town. Someone who would not waste time asking for directions or worse, deliver a package or letter to the wrong recipient.
For a cleaner, it may be argued that someone who has experience cleaning offices will do it faster and better. They have handled offices and know how to take care of documents lying on desks, the floor etc.
Ultimately, it comes down to the employer. If he decides he wants experience, he will ask for it. But as mentioned already, there may be, and usually is, an opportunity for someone inexperienced to land the job.
Some of the situations in which you can comfortably apply without experience despite it being requested are:
1. When the job requires no technical skills – these are the kinds of jobs which anyone can do. They may be purely manual jobs like cargo loading, product checking/verification, office messenger, cook (as long as it’s not a hotel) etc.
The jobs advertised in this case require doing things which you already know how to do. And if there is some special skill required, you can easily learn on the job. What you may need to do is learn the products being produced or something related.
As such, go ahead and apply but steer clear of mentioning your lack of experience. Stick to communicating your ability to work. Also remember to pitch the skills you have which you believe are relevant to the job.
2. When the vacancy being filled is an entry-level position – quite similar to the situation above, entry-level positions are the least technical. More than that, they don’t usually require much education qualification.
This is normally the way to start a new career path when you lack education and experience in a certain field. So, if the position is an entry-level one, confidently apply. The video below gives you tips on how to go about the experience challenge.
WHAT APOLOGIZING MEANS
Coming to the issue of apologies, you need to understand that you should steer clear. Do not think to yourself that since you can do the job, you can address the perceived weak point of experience.
Remember one thing: an apology may mean one thing to you but a different thing to someone else.
Sincerity is certainly a good trait to have. All the same, you need to express it in a different way. This does not mean that you are being insincere. This is about understanding the needs of the hiring manager as well as knowing what you have to offer.
You have something that can cover up for the lack of “full qualification.” Go ahead and list your transferable skills. Explain how you can use them to solve the problems the company has.
WHAT APOLOGIZING IS TAKEN TO MEAN
Before thinking that your sincerity will make you outshine the other candidates, read on to know what the hiring manager will think.
The hiring manager is at a position where he is tasked with getting the best candidate. As such, he is under pressure to sift through the applications and use good judgment to make the right choice.
Remember that he is also looking to be very efficient in the hiring process. He therefore desires to take the shortest time possible.
When he then goes through a cover letter and reads words like, “Although I don’t have the exact work experience…”, he is very likely to just stop reading. That means he will stop considering the writer, who happens to be you. This will be an application that wastes his time.
Below are three things that will easily show up in a manager’s mind upon reading your apology.
You are not qualified
Obviously, you lack the experience. That means, according to the job description, you are not qualified—and you know it. So why are you applying for the job in the first place?
If the job requires experience and you don’t have it, isn’t it obvious that you can’t do the job? That is the reasoning the manager will have.
You may argue that lacking in experience doesn’t necessarily indicate an inability to do the job. As correct as that argument is, keep in mind that you haven’t even gotten the opportunity to talk with your potential employer. So in this case, that reasoning is not helpful at all.
Also remember that you are not the decision maker. More than that, the decision maker is in business. He seeks to make maximum profits. If you are not coming to facilitate that goal, then you have no place in the company.
You’ll need to be trained
This follows from the previous point. If you are not qualified yet are hired, you will have to undergo training. That means there will be an extra unnecessary cost to your being hired. And what manager wants that?
Employee training is beneficial to the company and employers do it. This is however for those already employed. The training is usually to increase the employees’ capacity in handling growth.
Sure enough, there is also a place for training for a new job. But that is rarely for the under-qualified. This kind of training is given to the newly-hired employees who are set to start working. The training is to familiarize them with the specific products or services offered by the company.
As such, it is rarely a training but more of an employee orientation.
For the under-qualified to be trained, it will take more effort. First they have to be brought to the same level as the qualified then trained on what the company does. This is a serious overhead for the company.
For that reason, you will not be hired. Or even be called for an interview.
You are poor at following instructions
This may sound harsh but it’s really a reality that may be concluded by the one reading your cover letter.
Never forget that employers don’t have much time to hire a suitable candidate. This is one reason why recruiters don’t always read cover letters from start to finish. They usually skim through them.
Ever heard that you should win someone over by a great introduction? Such situations are the source of that wisdom.
If you read the qualifications, realized that you aren’t qualified but still applied, it shows that you can’t follow simple instructions. You will likely be hired and when asked to do one thing, end up doing something else.
No manager wants to have such an employee in his team. And team leaders know how dealing with people can be difficult. So why go looking for more difficulty?
You can’t do the job
The thing is, your ability to perform a duty is largely based on your confidence levels. And these confidence levels get higher with every task handled.
If you haven’t handled tasks similar to the one you are to handle in this job, what is the guarantee that you can do the job? Won’t you lower the overall productivity level of the company by delaying progress?
According to the hiring manager, you probably can’t do the job.
Resist the temptation to feel you are doing something wrong when applying for a job that’s asking for an experience you don’t have. Or yours is not directly relevant. Presenting yourself well through your resume will cover that.
So confidently apply for the job.
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