How To Apply For A Job You Are Overqualified For

Robin Schwartz

How To Apply For A Job You Are Overqualified For

Being highly qualified is usually good when it comes to career opportunities. There are times when an organization might hesitate at the resume of an applicant who has more experience than they need.

Job seekers should to understand why companies may avoid hiring experienced applicants. Especially when they are qualified above the expectations of the position.

Why Is Being Overqualified A Concern?

  • They are concerned they cannot afford you. With years of experience often comes a higher salary range. The company may be posting for an entry-level position because it is all they have budgeted for at the time.
  • They will be concerned the job will not challenge you. In simpler terms, they worry you will be bored. Applicants who appear to have the skillset to easily do the job may find themselves with less to do. This is since the work can be accomplished in a shorter time.
  • They worry the opportunity is a stop-gap until you find something better. It is easy to tell from a resume or application if someone has recently been laid off or relocated from another area.

Recruiters and hiring managers often see overqualified applicants as individuals looking for any opportunity. They are just applying until the right one comes along. They worry you are more concerned about a paycheck than a career.

Companies have a variety of other concerns about considering an overqualified applicant. If you are seriously interested in a job opportunity, approach the application and interview process correctly. This helps to ensure you are not automatically disqualified.

Tailor Your Resume

Resumes should always be tailored to specific job opportunities when you apply. It is even more important to make sure your resume is not too intimidating. This helps when you are overqualified for the role.

Resumes should be an accurate snap shot of your career history. They do not need to include every single job you have had. Consider removing any jobs from your resume that are not applicable to the position. This is an effort to make your years of experience seem less intimidating.

You should review the positions on your resume that are applicable to the job you are applying to. Remove any duties, responsibilities or other language that goes beyond what the company is asking for.

For example: Let’s say you are applying for a Warehouse Associate role. Avoid listing duties that show your previous management experience or your role implementing new processing initiatives.

Look at the job description. If the job description doesn’t require higher education, leave off advanced degrees from your resume. Seeing an applicant with a Master’s degree or PhD may be an immediate disqualifier for some hiring representatives. Especially if the position is entry level or only requires a few years of experience.

Clarify In Your Cover Letter

Job seekers should always discuss their reasons for being interested in a position within the cover letter. Cover letters are not the place to provide personal information to potential employers. It helps to note the reason you are asking to be considered for the opportunity in the cover letter. Especially if you are in the process of a location or career change.

Discuss your reasons for being interested in the position. Don’t go so far as to repeat your resume. The cover letter should expand on skills and qualifications that are addressed in your resume. Expand on how they make you a great candidate for the position.

Express your ability to be successful in the role without sounding like you already know how to do it all.

Be Open During Your Interview

During interviews, clarify again why the position interests you and what you can bring to the role. It is often helpful to take a “no task is too small” attitude when talking about your past experiences. This shows the company that you are willing to fulfill the duties of position. Even though you may seem to be overqualified for.

Be upfront with interviewers (while remaining professional) about why you are applying for the position.

Maybe you have relocated to an area with a smaller market for your chosen profession. Explain to them you understand that in order to continue with your career, you have to consider all opportunities. Providing insight to your interviewers may ease their concerns. This may help them consider hiring someone who is too experienced for the role.

Be Flexible About Salary

For many hiring managers, they discount overly qualified applicants. Why? Not because they are concerned about their experience, but because they are concerned they can’t afford them. When entering salary discussions or negotiations with companies, you will not likely be able to command your current rate.

You risk being disqualified from further consideration for failing to have reasonable expectations.

Applying to (and being considered for) jobs that you are overqualified for takes some finesse. You should not get discouraged if you aren’t getting the responses from companies you hoped for.

Continue editing and tailoring your resume. Provide appropriate and insightful information on your cover letter. This can help impress hiring managers during your interviews.

About The Author

Robin Schwartz

Robin Schwartz has nearly a decade of experience providing HR expertise to employees and management in higher education. Her broad experience includes benefits, compensation, performance management, employee relations, payroll, talent acquisition and management. She received her masters degree from American Military University and maintains a PHR certification.

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