How often do candidates apply for a job where they fall short in certain criteria? What should an employer do in such cases?
Let's say we work with enterprise clients, so one of the requirements for the job opening would be "B2B sales experience" (business selling to other businesses). It's common for sales managers who have experience in retail sales rather than B2B to apply for such positions. In other words, they are retail store sales consultants.
Would I consider such a resume? No, I wouldn't.
The experience can vary significantly, from the target audience to specific product knowledge or communication skills.
Here's another scenario: we're looking for a specialist with at least three years of experience in B2B sales and SaaS solutions. A candidate with B2B experience but only 1-2 years of experience in selling SaaS solutions applies for the job.
Would I consider such a resume? Yes, I would.
It's simple: the number of years of experience is always a flexible option. You can work in a large company for one year and gain more experience than you could in a small startup in 2-3 years.
And now, my favourite example.
Let's say you value sales experience in a foreign market. Suddenly, a candidate without such experience but with an impressive background in the Russian market applies for your job.
Would I consider such a resume? Yes, I would.
First and foremost, I would want to hear their thoughts. It's not a guarantee that I would hire them, but if their thoughts on selling in a foreign market align with mine, I would definitely consider them. Especially if all other criteria match.
"Those are good examples, but what should I do?" you may ask.
When creating a job listing, spend time outlining the requirements grid.
Design the grid in a way that allows you to indicate which nuances you're willing to compromise on and which are non-negotiable. The simplest way is to assign importance ratings to each criterion.
Yes, this work will require some of your time, but it will simplify your and your recruiter's work in the future. With such a system in place, a recruiter can prequalify candidates based on the marked parameters and bring your attention to specific aspects: "This candidate scores high on these highlighted parameters, but there are these areas for growth marked with low scores. Should we consider them or not?"
A good find by a recruiter is often a candidate who went unnoticed by others. Perhaps they lack a certain skill, but they excel in everything else.
Yes, maybe they can't write an impressive resume for themselves, but their speaking skills are amazing. Maybe they were passed from hand to hand, and they simply didn't have time to upgrade their resume.
Their verbal communication is excellent, but their written communication is not. Okay, we found them, we can teach them how to write, and we might end up with an ideal candidate right in our company. Or, as an alternative, we can simply involve them in meetings (a joke with a possible grain of truth).
What do you think of these options? Honestly, I'm not a fan. And here's why:
A very, very small percentage of strong candidates struggle with creating a compelling resume.
If you're in sales, you must create a good resume. If you can't sell yourself, you won't be able to sell anything or anyone.
Indeed, some strong managers have issues with spelling and grammar. But some of them make an effort to improve, while others simply send clients emails and messages as they come, without much thought. You can only assess a candidate's attitude towards this growth area during the interview.
What if we're not talking about sales managers? I believe it's obvious that you need to highlight the key functionality, the core activity in the position:
A linguist is unlikely to make mistakes in words.
A carpenter is unlikely to be inattentive and careless.
A programmer is unlikely to type with only two fingers.
It seems straightforward. Here, I smoothly transition to the second point:
Your Business Format
Let's say you need sales in English, but a candidate doesn't speak English. They excel in everything else. Should you hire them? Of course not.
Therefore, go back to your competence scale and ensure that you haven't overlooked anything crucial that would make other criteria insignificant.
Advice for Candidates from the Experienced
If you have the minimum match according to the scale described above, and you've applied but received a rejection, that's okay. Well done for trying; no one will blame you. Don't get discouraged. Read the job description carefully and try to identify the competencies that the employer gave high importance to after reading this article. Do you meet them? Go for it.