Getting a job when you do not have the right experience or credentials is tough. But if one is smart, he/she can easily off-set that by sheer enthusiasm. It requires focus and targeting the interviewer/company that you are interviewing for.
I remember when I first came to US with an Indian company to be trained in an ERP package. The other folks in the team were all experienced in the in-house ERP package that my company sold back home. It wasn’t the best ERP but it had most of the features. And out of 20 in our team, 18 had worked on it for years. So quite obviously they had stronger credentials than I had. But I was determined to grab the project. And coincidentally only one was on offer. I did not know which area it was in or which client of this Big 6 would it be for. However, this is how I went about the process:
1. I looked for the weaknesses of the home-grown ERP that my colleagues had worked on. And the strengths of the new product that we were trained on.
2. Then I looked for my strengths. It was finance and cost accounting.
3. My gap analysis in #1 suggested that the home-grown ERP did not have a cost accounting module which this new product had and was strong at. This, I knew instinctively, was my chance!
4. I sat down to tailor my resume (not fudge). I remembered and listed all the things I had done in accounting and cost accounting in particular from the fact that I was a Cost Accountant to the fact that one of my internship projects had indeed helped that organization save money (Rs I million). I mentioned all that upfront. Along with the other stuff on accounting of course.
The interviews happened and I did not over promise on my understanding of technology but stuck to my process side knowledge. Ultimately, out of the 20, I was the only one to get the project, because luckily for me the project that came up was miraculously in cost accounting. Bingo!
This shows that focus and serious work can meet with success and luck. Here is another example of a lady who was not the most experienced in marketing in the line-up of candidates but won on sheer resourcefulness. This is what she did to prepare for the job interview:
1. I broke down their job posting line by line and wrote down projects I’d worked on or skills I possessed that directly related to their description.
2. I researched their website extensively, read media articles about the company, and looked up the management teams’ backgrounds so that I could speak knowledgeably about the company and why I was a good fit.
3. I prepared a spiel about my somewhat eclectic resume, which can look unfocused if not set in the proper context.
4. I called an expert on start-ups, finance, bargaining and a half-dozen other things to get some outside counsel. Ramit gave me some key advice, including “tell them you want to get your hands dirty,” and “suggest three things you would do to improve/enhance their marketing efforts”. Yes, he does talk just like he writes on his blog.
5. I actually took Ramit’s advice, which is where a lot of my work came in. I dreamed up three proposals for generating greater interest at tradeshows, better responses to direct marketing campaigns, and increased name recognition in the general population.”
It must have been perfect with so much of effort, right? Wrong! She couldn’t get to talk of all her ideas. So, did she abandon them? No!
“I never actually found a good opportunity to mention my ideas (this despite a four-hour interview). I emailed the proposals to my potential boss instead, using them as a way to continue self-advocating even though I was no longer in her office. I then individually emailed every person I spoke to that day to thank them for their time. Might have been overkill, but then again, my email flurry may have been the tipping point for my hiring.
My references later told me that the VP had been impressed with my energy and intelligence, and had decided she would rather train someone with potential than hire a more experienced, and perhaps less flexible, individual.
Pretty inspiring huh?
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