What to do when you are the Tim Tebow of candidates

I wrote a post recently about Tim Tebow and was asked how a Tim Tebow type candidate might go about getting an employer to take  a chance on them. This is an excellent question because it’s hard enough to get a job if you meet the traditional requirements, much less if you are a non-traditional candidate.

First a quick assumption I am making about the non-traditional candidate: I assume you have some experience in your targeted field or  a related field.  This is not a post for the lawyer who wants to become a chemist but has no background or education in chemistry.

With that said here are a few quick tips on how to get the perfect job you are looking for despite the fact that you don’t have the background of the traditional candidate in your field:

1. Target the right companies- if you are a non-traditional candidate you should target companies that embrace all kinds of diversity not just the EEOC types of diversity.  How can you find out what companies actively search for and hire innovative employee’s? See number four below – networking

2. Write up a good cover letter (yes, people still read these) that highlights how your background  will help you be successful in the target job.  Cover letters should be short,  concise and customized to the job and company you are applying for.  To kick start a great cover letter start by writing a cover letter for your dream job, then make sure to have someone look it over for any mistakes you might have missed.  When you apply for a job take this original and customize it to the job and the company.

3. Anticipate questions or concerns a company will have about hiring  you.  Formulate answers to counter these concerns.  Then practice those answers until they come naturally and you don’t even have to think about them.

4. Network within your field- join industry networking events,  if you have the time take a leadership or committee position.  The contacts you meet are working in your field and possibly at your targeted companies and can provide valuable information.

5. Learn and read everything you can about your targeted field – You can never learn enough about your field.  If you have been out of the field for 5- 10 years and want to return, go to your local community college and take some coursework or pursue certification.  For example if you were in HR 10 years ago and you want to return to HR,  start by taking an employment law class, there have been huge changes in that area over the last 10 years and you will want to demonstrate that you are up to date on those and other changes in the field.

I’ve covered a lot of bases above but I’m sure there is valuable insight and suggestions I have missed.  Tell me what you would suggest: advice or first had accounts would be great.  Thank you for suggestions and contributions!

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