Resume Tips for Long-Shot Jobs

You’ve discovered an open position that’s absolutely perfect in every way. The job, the hours, and the workplace are ideal. This role offers a clear stepping stone toward your long-term goals, and the job is located in a city where you’ve always wanted to live.

There’s only one problem: you aren’t exactly qualified. Maybe the job requires a Master’s degree and you only have a BA, or the employers request 10 years of experience and you only have three. Or maybe you hold only about 30 percent of the skills and certifications these employers are looking for.

But this is the job of your dreams, and you have no intention of simply hanging your head and walking away—that’s not your style. Since you intend to apply despite the fact that your competitors will have far more to offer than you do, keep these long-shot resume tips in mind.

Applying for a Job That’s Out of Reach

Here’s what to do:

1. Play to win. In other words, don’t hedge, apologize, or directly address your shortcomings in your resume and cover letter. Sometimes a job application is just a transaction between two people—they each have something the other wants, so they meet and hammer out a deal. But for you, this is not the case. This time, you’ll need tosell. So be bold. Don’t say one negative word about yourself. Bring every one of your amazing strengths to the surface, and put them all on the page.

2. Don’t miss a single mechanical detail. You’re already at a disadvantage, so don’t let a silly comma mistake or misspelling bring you down. Have your resume and cover letter reviewed by at least three other people before you send it off.

3. Don’t rush, but move fast. Attend to every detail, but do whatever it takes to get your resume submitted before the sun goes down on the day you find out about the job.

4. Do some investigating. Visit the company webpage and look for anything that might help you understand this company’s culture, its goals, its mission, and what the mangers for this specific position need in order to excel at their own jobs. If you can draw insights and conclusions beyond the needs that are specifically spelled out in the post, you’ll have an advantage. Let these employers know you’ve been thinking about this position and about the special skills that might make you a great match.

5. Identify something you have that other applicants probably don’t. Then find a way to turn this specific skill or experience into something these managers don’t yet know that they need. For example, if you have only three years of experience, but you’re fantastic at XTML programing or event planning, frame this specialty in a way that these employers will find appealing.

Most Important: Don’t Give Up

The key to landing a long-shot job is simple: start with a great resume, and don’t stop there. Follow up. Be polite, but relentless. Pick up the phone, and if you don’t get an answer, wait a day or two and try again.