Tip 17: Are you missing any 'desirable' criteria?
This is worth noting, because I often see it done badly.
If you're missing some desirable criteria, that's fine. Please do go ahead and apply anyway... But be sure to address the fact that you don't have it. If you've covered off everything else from the job spec, but missed out one thing, you might as well include 'I don't have XYZ' in huge red writing at the bottom of your statement.
It's that obvious.
Just address the fact that you don't have it, and find something similar or relevant to plug the gap. At worst, at least address it, do some research so that you're passably familiar with it, and think about a positive way to spin your position.
Tip 18 : What about 'essential' criteria?
Okay, so we've covered weak spots, but what if you fall short on essential criteria? Isn't that going to scupper your personal statement before you even start?
Well, perhaps, but perhaps not.
If you're applying for a position as a doctor, and you don't have a medical degree, that's going to be a problem. There's really no point in applying.
But often these criteria, although listed as essential, can be worked around if there is a compelling reason to do so. A good example of this is the field of accountancy, where there are a wide variety of positions available where the pay isn't great, but the employer will pay for the successful applicants professional qualifications. The catch is, they often want a baseline level of qualification in order to apply for the position.
So no dice then, if you don't have that? I mean, it's essential... right?
Not necessarily. If you don't have it, but you want the position, it's still potentially worth taking a punt. You're going to have to address the fact that you don't have the 'essential' requirement (perhaps offer to attend night school to achieve that level more quickly), as well as providing a compelling reason for them to employ you over more qualified applicants, but it's certainly achievable. A unique advantage would be doubly important in this case, as you really will need to stand out from the crowd.
A number of years' experience is also often listed as an essential requirement. Even so, this can be worked around. If you're a strong candidate for a position, and you argue your case well, you may be able to sway the decision maker from passing you up purely on the basis that you've got slightly less experience than other applicants. If you're an exceptional candidate you might get away with no experience at all - It's been done before, and it'll be done again.
It's important to remember, though, that you are going to have to be a standout candidate - You'll need to argue your case well, and you do need a better statement than your competitors.