Tired of being told you’re overqualified?

Not getting calls back when applying to positions you know you’re more than qualified for? It’s a confusing concept that years of great work experience might eventually work against you in your job search. Why? Because it can be hard to believe that an overqualified candidate will bring their all to a lower level position, and truly want it for the right reasons. Let’s break it down.

When you apply to a job you are overqualified for, hiring managers are assuming:

  • You’re only taking this position temporarily until you find something higher level
  • You’re going to ask for more money than they are able to pay you
  • You won’t take direction well from less-experienced or younger managers
  • You’ll be bored
  • You’re just all around a lousy worker who couldn’t find a job at your current level

If you are overqualified for a position you truly want, be aware of all of these scenarios that are going through the hiring manager’s head. Start by addressing the elephant in the room in your cover letter or first email, and explain why taking a step back makes sense for you.

“Yes, my previous roles have been higher-level, but this is the best career move for me now because…”

Maybe you started a family and your priorities changed.
Maybe you no longer want the stress of having managerial responsibilities.
Maybe you’re curious about getting into a different industry, and need the industry experience.
Maybe the company you are applying to is your dream company where you are willing to take a pay cut.
Maybe you’re not caught up in titles or money, and are just looking for a great role that you enjoy.

All of these reasons are viable and could convince the hiring manager to reconsider your application. Stay consistent with your reasoning throughout the entire interview process!

Tips to Seal the Deal

Once a hiring manager agrees to meet with you for a job you are overqualified for, the worst thing you can do is show up and appear arrogant. Remember what they were worried about initially after viewing your resume. Just like any interview, you will need to be ready to convince them that you are the right person for the job without acting like you’re above it.

It’s also helpful to mention what you are excited to learn in the position to help show that the job isn’t beneath you and you have something to gain. Find examples of what you have done in previous roles that were similar, and express that you enjoyed that type of work. Try to only talk about past accomplishments that are relevant, and not too advanced.

Lastly, stress to the interviewer that you are in it for the long haul. Refer to your longevity in previous roles to prove your loyalty. 

If you’re tired of being told you’re overqualified for positions you genuinely want to pursue, be upfront and explain the situation right away to avoid being turned down without a conversation.  Better yet? Work with a staffing agency who can help sell your story to the right decision makers to get the job you want.