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Job Search Tips

Are You Overqualified? (pt. 2)

Overqualified (novel)

Overqualified (novel) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Even if the hiring manager does not express his concerns concerning being overqualified, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are not present in his mind. Being labeled as overqualified can be a difficult challenge to overcome, but it can be done. The point is to focus on meeting the employers’ needs.

So does the employer worry that you might jump ship as soon as something better comes along?

  • Demonstrate loyalty to your employer. Use examples to show your loyalty in staying with your previous company. Highlighting longevity at previous companies is a good thing. Employers may ask date related questions in an interview such as, “where do you see yourself in 5 years?” Use this opportunity to reassure the employer that you are interested in remaining with them for awhile.

Perhaps the hiring manager thinks he cannot afford you?

  • Don’t let salary be a focal point. Make it clear from the beginning that you are open and flexible regarding salary. If you are applying to a targeted company that you’d like to be with for a while, and you can afford to do so, let them know that you are willing to start at the bottom and stay with them for the long haul.
  • Highlight the benefits, financial and otherwise, that you bring to the employer. Did you make money (generate revenue), save money (cut costs or reduce risk), or solve major problems in your previous work? The employer needs to know about those. Don’t wait to be asked. Also, if you know the job already, you can save the company on expensive training costs.

Could the employer be concerned that your knowledge base is old or outdated? Or that you are stuck in your own ways and unwilling to learn?

  • Emphasize your current knowledge and skills. Especially important if you have a significant job gap or are a more mature jobseeker, dispel the idea that your skills might be out of date or you are resistant to new technologies.

What if a hiring manager is concerned you might get bored by taking a position with less responsibility than you had formerly?

  • Downplay the big job titles. Did you last work as a regional manager, vice president or director? Seeing those job titles on a resume could scare away a hiring manager. Rather than using big job titles in resumes, focus more on the job description—the duties and accomplishments—than the title itself. Can you describe your job title in a different light—rather than vice president of operations, can you say operations manager?
  • Show your passion. Nothing will win over the employer like your own natural passion for the work you do. Don’t be afraid to show your interest and motivation to do the best work you can for the employer.

Too much education?

  • Target your education to the job requirements. Just because you have an MS or a PhD doesn’t mean it has to be listed on the resume. If you have a PhD and the job only requires a BA, then list your undergraduate degree.

Is there concern that, in knowing more than less-experienced coworkers or supervisors, that you could come across as pompous or overbearing?

  • Display an attitude of humility and willingness to learn quickly. But DON’T be fake!

Don’t know what the employer is thinking? Don’t wait to find out.

  • Speak to the reason you are seeking lower employment. Are you tired of higher levels of responsibility and stress? Do you want to work closer to where you live? Do you want to change careers or broaden your horizons? Speak to those motivations with positive, compelling rationale and be completely honest.

You have opportunities to speak to these points in your cover letter, follow-up contacts with the hiring manager or HR representative, and of course in the interview. Over-qualification can be a difficult stumbling block in getting back to work, but strong selling on your part—the overcoming of the employer’s objections – can clear many of those roadblocks.


About kimberlyjmyers

I am a workforce development professional in Washington State. I have ten years experience working with dislocated workers, vocationally impaired, and people with disabilities on many levels and backgrounds from offenders to non-English speaking refugees from around the world. The One thing the clients I have worked with all had in common: there was some barrier to employment, and I work diligently every day to identify, address and remove those barriers.



  1. Pingback: Are You Overqualified? (Pt. 1) « Job Seeking Today - June 1, 2012

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