The New York Times today offers so-so advice on how to get around the HR gatekeeper and get to the hiring manager when seeking a job for which you're not PERFECTLY qualified.
Most relevant passage:
If your only relationship with the company is electronic, via a job board or a posting, your chances are not good. H.R. people confronting hundreds of faceless online applications have one main goal: to weed out as many people as they can.
“The employer is not expected to be creative or flexible or see the opportunity in you that you think you might have” when the relationship is purely electronic, said Bernadette Kenny, chief career officer at Adecco North America, the staffing firm. She considers that to be an “unrealistic expectation on the part of the job seeker.”
But if you can establish personal contact with someone on the inside, you may be able to make your case. It’s tiresome to have to repeat this, and a lot of people don’t like to hear it, but it comes down to networking. Job seekers who don’t fit all the requirements “need to go around the gatekeeper; they need to find another door,” said Barbara Safani, owner of Career Solvers, a career management firm in New York. If you are introduced to a hiring manager by someone you know, there is more trust, and suddenly “things aren’t as important as they appeared to be on that job spec,” she said.