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Career Monday: What Will You Do When an Employer Says You’re Overqualified?

Imagine someone refusing to date you because you’re too kind and beautiful. Yet, when you’re job hunting, you may run into employers who tell you that you’re overqualified for the position.

How can you keep your impressive credentials and extensive experience from working against you? Follow these steps designed to help overqualified candidates land a job offer.

Applying for Jobs When You’re Overqualified

Hiring managers may toss your resume as soon as they see your executive titles or advanced degree. Be proactive about addressing common concerns, starting with your first contact.

These strategies will help you land an interview:

1. Research openings. Be selective about where you apply. Look for companies with a track record of hiring employees with future needs in mind. If possible, target companies and positions where you’re likely to find engaging work.

2. Pick a reason. There are many reasons for considering a somewhat junior position. Maybe you’re relocating or trying to break into a new industry. In any case, focus on your primary motivation and why it makes you a good match for your new employer.

3. Edit your resume. You can be authentic while choosing which areas of your background to highlight or downplay. Simplify your language and omit irrelevant certifications and awards.

4. Suggest staying power. Many HR departments will wonder how long you’ll stick around before finding a more attractive opportunity. Assure them that they’re not wasting their resources. Spell out your desire for a position with long term possibilities.

5. Compromise on compensation. Similarly, there may be concerns about your salary requirements. Let them know that you’re flexible, even if that means taking a significant cut compared to your previous earnings.

6. Consult your network. Do you have contacts who are familiar with the organization or prominent in the industry? They may be willing to give you valuable information and recommend you as a candidate worth hiring.

Interviewing for Jobs When You’re Overqualified

Congratulations on getting this far in the process. Now, you can sell yourself to your potential employer, so they’ll see your capabilities as an asset rather than an obstacle.

Try these techniques:

1. Show enthusiasm. Being arrogant or demanding will make a poor impression. Let employers know that you’re excited about the possibility of working with them and eager to make a genuine contribution.

2. Describe tasks. Be specific when you’re discussing your past responsibilities and how they correspond to your new role. Show employers that you understand their expectations and feel comfortable with them.

3. Explore growth potential. Some companies may be open to upgrading a position for a candidate who can take on additional responsibilities. Listen to their needs so you can propose appropriate solutions. Maybe you can generate additional income or train and mentor other team members.

4. Reassure rivals. What if your new boss has less experience than you or seems to view you as unwelcome competition? Tell stories that show you value learning from others and can take direction.

5. Try it out. Many companies want a new hire to stay on the payroll so they can recoup their investment. However, there are also situations where a shorter time frame may be mutually beneficial. You might work on one project on a contract basis and see where the relationship goes from there.

6. Stay positive. Job hunting is often filled with rejections, whether you’re overqualified or struggling to gain experience. Seek support from family, friends, and job clubs. Take care of your mental and physical health. Remember that your efforts will pay off if you persevere.

Be prepared to dispel misperceptions and doubts when an employer says you’re overqualified. Find a company that will appreciate your potential and give you the opportunity to take on new challenges.

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