In my new book, Selling Yourself in Today’s Competitive Marketplace, I talk extensively about “Your Next Job Interview,” as it serves up the perfect metaphor for selling yourself. During a job interview, you are not only responsible for selling yourself, you are also the product that’s being sold.
That said, here’s a strange tip coming from a sales trainer. If you are pursuing an exciting new opportunity in the job market, then I would advise you to position for second place.
There’s usually no such thing as the perfect candidate. The “perfect” candidate would always have more experience and a better track record. They will have also had more training and better references. Add to that the fact they may have been the valedictorian in college, a former Miss America, or a decorated war veteran, and alas, you have the perfect candidate!
It’s actually fine to have weaknesses. More than likely you’re not competing against perfection, anyway. Rather, you’re competing against other candidates who have a resume full of strengths and weaknesses. You just need to make sure that the combined total of your strengths, minus any perceived weaknesses, is greater than whoever else is applying for the job.
I actually think it puts you in a strong position to verbally acknowledge the fact that you’re not perfect. The goal isn’t to sound negative or pessimistic. But, I can tell you that I would be quick to say to a hiring manager, “There probably is no such thing as the perfect candidate for this position. While my strengths include aaaaa, bbbbb, and ccccc, I would want to focus my energy on developing my skills in the areas of yyyyy and zzzzz in order to become productive as quickly as possible.
Most decision makers are realistic and are comforted by the fact that a candidate (or salesperson) is aware that there are some areas that need more attention than others. In fact, a willingness to acknowledge and focus on one’s weaknesses may just be one of your greatest strengths.
The moral to this story is simple. The perfect candidate for a job will always win hands down. Therefore, you are really vying for second place–which includes those times where there is no such person as ‘the perfect candidate.’ If you can elevate yourself to be perceived as the best out of those who do have strengths and weaknesses, then I can tell you with a high degree of confidence that you will win most of the time.
By the way, in a competitive marketplace, there’s no such thing as a “perfect” solution. Think about it!