On Being Overqualified …

Has anyone ever told you that you were “overqualified”?  Have you used that phrase to eliminate a job applicant?  What does overqualified really mean?

I see both sides of the “overqualified” debate.  The basic premise is that if you have a candidate with significantly more experience than is required by the position that you are recruiting for, that candidate will not be happy in the job and will leave as soon as she finds a job more closely aligned with her experience.  Then you are forced to start the recruiting process all over again.  While I understand that argument, I’m not sure it is always holds water.

But how does this apply to the job seeker?  When you are trying to find a job and you are the one that is overqualified, what do you do?

Well, you could dumb down your resume, scale back your accomplishments and leave off some of your earlier jobs to that your age and/or experience does not jump off the page.   You could understate your salary requirements in the hope of negotiating the salary up after they’ve fallen in love with you.  But those things aren’t really my style.

First you need to be honest with yourself.  Is this a job you really want?  Are you willing to take that big of step back in your career progression?  Can you afford to live on that salary?  If you can’t say yes to these questions don’t apply for the job.  You won’t feel good about it and you’ll be wasting everyone’s time.

Next, look hard at the job and the company.  I’m a big fan of being ‘open-kimono’ – what you see is what you get.  Are there advantages to this smaller job? Will you be able to work fewer hours and get your work/life balance back in balance?  Will this job be less stressful and maybe healthier?  Does this company offer better or different benefits that may offset some reduction in salary?  Are you attracted to the mission/vision of the company – would you feel good working there?

If you can answer yes to these questions, go for it with your kimono open.  Tell the hiring manager the truth – that you probably do have more experience than they are looking for – but it is a win-win situation.  They will get a worker that does not need as much training and who brings extra skills to the table.  You will get a job that answers the questions we just talked about.

If you can all look objectively at the situation and be honest with yourself, being overqualified can be a blessing.

One Comment on “On Being Overqualified …”

  1. Great points about being open with your reasons.

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