I am starting the phone screen process for a software engineering position where I may be less qualified than they prefer. For example, I do not have one of their five bullets under their required section. It is a small company, and I would really like to work there, so getting my foot in the door is important. How can I express that I would settle for a contract/temporary/internship/alternative position? Or would it be unwise to express this? Also, should I provide a number to the "expected salary" question when I am mostly interested in gaining experience?

I am new to the field with about 2 years experience after a career change, and I have 1.5 years of part-time experience as a research assistant, along with a few classes and side projects. I devote almost all of my time to my craft, and I believe that I would be a successful fit with their team. I want to show that I'm receptive, eager to learn, and capable of learning. How can I communicate this?


Thanks for the responses. I have applied to about 20 places, got 5-8 phone screens, and no offers. At this point, I wouldn't mind an internship, but internship applications require me to be in a degree program. I have a college degree already, and it is in environmental science. Perhaps I can write a new question about how to get an internship. In the meantime, I am continuing my personal projects and open-source contributions.

If you can offer additional advice, that would be great too.

  • You assume that all the people applying have all 5 bullet points (they don't). If they do sure they will get hired but if most candidates have 3 with a couple of people having 4 then they will choose from the pool of people that have 4. – Martin York Sep 24 '14 at 17:48

If you want to get an internship, apply for an internship. If you apply for a full time position and you tell your prospective employer that you are available for an internship and - lucky you! - your prospective employer is a bottom feeder, then you are almost guaranteeing yourself an internship even if you qualify for the full time position.

Back in the days 30 years ago when I was somewhat in your position in terms of age and credentials, if a position had four requirements, I was usually short of at least one requirement. And I would apply anyway, especially if I figured I could pick up on these requirements on the job. Again, I figured that the worst that would happen was if the prospective employer said "no", which would leave me in a no worse position than I was before I asked. Applying for a position that I have all the qualifications for? That could be too boring :)

  • My problem is that I am getting a lot of "no's", or non-responses. Do you think mentioning my internship availability can hurt my chances of getting anything? Might this be viewed as lacking confidence, or in another negative light? – niceEarthling Sep 24 '14 at 22:18

If you're applying to software engineering jobs with only an environmental science degree, you're going to be at a disadvantage compared to applicants with CS/CE educations for at least your first five years in the industry and potentially longer.

You may want to try going around HR's standard hiring process. Do some Internet sleuthing to find likely hiring managers at organizations with open positions, then contact them about your interest in an "externship" or, for a more softball approach, request an informational interview. In general, this approach can take longer, though it should yield a better fit.

Alternatively, if you earned an M.S. in computer science, nobody would care what your earlier degree was in. While going back to school would be expensive upfront, you could quickly earn it back. (For computer science, a B.S. earns 2.3 wage premium; 2.75 for M.S.)

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