How To Deal With Overqualifications When Job Hunting

Are you more than qualified for the job you’re applying for? It might sound like an asset, being able to easily do a job with your eyes closed, but in reality, it’s often enough to prevent you from getting a job. You’d think that the better you are at your work the more easily you’d get hired, but that’s rarely the case. There are a variety of reasons that employers are hesitant to hire candidates they perceive as overqualified. They worry that the new worker may become bored or may just be using them as a stepping stone on the way to somewhere better.

They may question the motives of a candidate who is applying for a job which is “beneath” him or her. They may not realize how the recession can drive someone to accept any kind of work. Sometimes they may even become concerned that the new candidate will rise in the ranks and take their job.

There are a couple of different ways to deal with overqualification. One is to simply leave a lot of your work experience off your resume. This probably won’t work well if you’re older since the employer will wonder where the heck you’ve been all these years. If you’re relatively young, though, it may not cause any suspicion. It’s wrong to misrepresent yourself as more competent or educated than you really are when you apply for a job, but there aren’t really any rules against presenting yourself as less competent.

When people have lots of work experience, they’re forced to leave out information all the time for the sake of brevity. If you’re applying for entry level jobs, using an entry-level resume may help you get an interview. You’ll need to be consistent throughout the hiring process though.

Another way to deal with overqualification is to be up front, but then go out of your way to address the hiring manager’s potential concerns, albeit indirectly. During an interview, emphasize that you’re looking for a position for the long term, and that you have worked long term jobs in the past (if applicable). Underline the fact that you’re in search of stability, and that you don’t find repetitious work tedious.

If you’re asked directly about your overqualification, you can turn the question back around and simply ask the hiring manager why he or she would prefer to hire someone who will not perform to the same standards you would. Another tactic is to make it clear that you’re seeking balance in your life, not the highest position or salary. The best excuse for this is to point toward having a family or having responsibilities in your family (children, aging parents, etc.). Don’t come up with anything project or career-oriented, because things you could make money from might drive you to quit eventually.

The sad fact of being overqualified is that all of these responses are generally still insufficient to tackle the problem, but at least being aware of it is the start toward working around it.

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