The concept of being “overqualified” is intriguing. Job seekers who are desperate for employment rarely agree with this assessment when being denied jobs. If you’ve ever been lumped into the “overqualified” category you are not alone. In fact, you join the ranks of an ever increasing pool of candidates who have a combination of experience, credentials, and/or education that will make you stick out like a sore thumb in the position for which you are applying.
But to whom?
Hiring managers and supervisors are like match-makers: they try to place the right person in the right position. Their decision making process is based upon a myriad of factors such as your work history, skill-set, educational studies, and personality. They are then matched against the job responsibilities and duties which they feel are “requirements” for succeeding in the position.
They are usually wrong.
From the perspective of a company’s clientele, employers could never hire someone who is “overqualified” to cater to their needs. Conversely, the employee who is under-qualified is often the one who sticks out like a sore thumb, causing us to shake our heads and wonder “how did they get the job?”
Not all employers shy away from so-called overqualified employees. The downturn in the economy has created an over saturation of qualified employees in the marketplace which allows employers to do some robust cherry picking.
Sixty-four percent of workers who were laid off over the last 12 months said they have applied for positions that were below the job level they had held previously, according to a survey by Career Builder.
In a buyer’s market the employer has tremendous leverage, and the sellers (the prospective employees) must make concessions. It’s just that simple. For some it will include reducing salary expectations, for others it may mean acquiring new skills and transitioning into new roles.
If you feel that you are overqualified for a job you are seeking, address that concern in your cover letter upon submitting your resume. The key is to allay the employer’s concerns that you may not be “challenged” (i.e. bored) in the position. The key is to communicate awareness of your potential “overqualified” status as an asset, not a liability.
When that fails, lie. Well, not lie exactly; just become more guarded with the truth. Eliminate parts of your history which paint you as an overqualified candidate. Temp agencies do it all the time. Trumping up resumes (making candidates appear more qualified than they actually are), and stripping them down (making candidates qualifications more compatible with a position by removing extraneous information which makes you look overqualified), is a standard business practice.
Once you demonstrate your understanding of what the position entails, your sole responsibility is to articulate how the value of your experience will translate into success in the position. Doing so will resolve the dilemma of being overqualified and get you back to work.