How many times have I heard someone say that they applied for a job that they thought was a great match, but they did not even get a response from the advertising organization?
Whether or not you get that interview depends on what the organization wants. This may or may not be explicitly stated in the position’s description. They may be looking for the “outside of the box” candidate rather than someone with a proven track record.
Even if that’s not the case, experience and a great track record do not guarantee that you will be selected for the interview or get the job. Some positions are just not made for you – even though they may look like they are.
The interviewers may be looking for “new” skill sets or a “different” type of candidate. In an NGO context, this might mean candidates with a business background or entrepreneurial experience. At a CEO level, it could mean someone with change management experience.
The organization may be more interested in candidates with compelling backgrounds that can represent the organization externally, perhaps those working on issues like justice and human rights. Larger INGOs are likely to have more resources to invest in their staff’s professional development.
Contractors or organizations that are grant and performance-based are more likely to look for the best candidate in terms of experience, past results, and technical skills. They often cannot afford to take a chance or wait for employees to learn and grow. They have goals to reach within a time frame.
If you have already relationship with the recruiter, you may always send a quick message to them asking about the role and its scope and find out their opinion on your background and whether the role would be a good fit.
The bottom line is: if you believe you are right for the position, take the time to craft your CV to highlight where you meet the job requirements. If you believe your skills are transferrable, make your case succinctly.
You might know you have the experience needed, but it may not be visible on your CV. Make your CV easy to understand and no longer than a couple of pages. Include numbers of staff and budgets managed, and your responsibilities. More importantly though, state your achievements! To some readers, your CV is more important than your cover letter.