Sorry, You’re Overqualified – Part II

In my last blog, I challenged organizations to take a look at their hiring practices regarding employing overqualified individuals.  In this blog, I will provide tips and suggestions to applicants to help them with overcoming being overqualified.

When applying for a job below your experience level, you need to prove you’re genuinely interested in the position.  I am talking showing interest for the long term and that your advanced skills/education are not a hindrance for you performing the job, but rather are an asset to the organization.

Be Honest

Before approaching a prospective employer, ask yourself exactly why you are pursuing a lower level position.  In a down economy, many individuals apply for jobs below their skill level out of financial necessity.  But even if you are desperate, you should still apply to organizations where you really want to work, in a relevant industry, or for positions that help with your professional development.  Knowing your intentions will make your job search more rewarding, as well as allow you to convince employers of your worth to the organization along with your goals.

Emphasize Your Skills

Take a look at your resume.  Use a performance based resume format and list your relevant skills and accomplishments first, and your extensive background next.  Take qualifications and use it your advantage by focusing on skills that will make you more efficient in the position, allowing you to shine above your competition. Remember that you need to always be honest about your previous work experience; however, be sure to put emphasis on your skills and responsibilities more than your previous job titles and education.

State Your Case

This is where your cover letter is important.  In the letter be sure to include why you are interested in the position, how your skills make you valuable, and what value your qualifications will bring to the organization (i.e. innovations, more money, etc.).  The letter should help with alleviating the hesitation the organization has in hiring you. 

Turn the Tables

Prepare to answer the question “do you think you are overqualified?”  What the interviewer is really trying to find out is if you fit with their organization.  The best way to answer this question is to turn the tables and ask what their ideal candidate looks like and show what skills you have that match that description.  If the interviewer asks about salary, emphasize that you are flexible and be forthright that you are willing to do with less.  This shows that you have thought about salary and it is not the issue.  You may even turn the tables more by emphasizing that you are looking for growth opportunities; want to work for a new company, and/or broadening your horizons.

I would like to hear your comments.  What have you done to overcome the stigma of being overqualified? 

photo credit


About Patricia Knight
Hello and welcome. My name is Patricia Knight. Thank you for taking the time to view my blog. I’m a Human Resources professional who is currently pursing an MBA at the University of Nevada-Reno. I am an analytical, detail-oriented professional who believes that collaboration and negotiation are critical for successful employee relations between leadership and employees.

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