I hear from a lot of clients who are looking to return to work after a career break that the feedback they are getting when applying for jobs is that they are overqualified.
So what can you do when you are told you are overqualified?
Firstly, never try to hide your qualifications and experience; many people who have been out of work for some time, whether due to a career break or due to the current lack of jobs, are keen to do a job that they might have done 5 years ago in order to get back to work and rebuild their confidence in a work environment. This does not mean that they will be after the boss’s job or will be looking to move on very quickly.
Sometimes recruiters will tell you that you are overqualified because they do not have the budget to pay what they believe you will want, or it may be because of your age or it may be to do with how secure the hiring manager is in his/her job!
How to turn it round so that overqualified doesn’t mean that you are no longer in the running?
- If a job really interests you, read between the lines of the job description to find out what skills and experience are critical for the position and tailor your pitch to show how you can add value in these areas and stress the positive points of being “overqualified”, e.g. you will require less training and mentoring and therefore be able to bring results quicker. Continue to show the value you can add with your extra qualifications/experience by offering to take on additional assignments if required.
- Explain openly and honestly why you are keen to take on this position so that the recruiter realises that it is not just a filler position until you find something better and that you do plan on staying longer than 6 months. If you are returning to work after a period looking after children or an elderly relative or you need a position with less responsibility because you also want to study at the same time, say so and then explain why the job is a good fit. It is also important here to state that you understand that the salary may not reflect your experience but that you believe you will be fairly compensated for the work you will be doing.
- Take the focus away from your experience and turn it on to the company. Tell the recruiter why you want to work for that particular company, perhaps it has always been a goal of yours to work for that particular company or tell them how you want to be able to grow and develop your career within the company – this is great for showing that you are committed to being with the company for more than 6 months!
Essentially, being overqualified just means that you have to spend more time figuring out how best to highlight your enthusiasm and commitment coupled with the value you can add to a position.
And as always, if you need help just send me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org