Applying for a job you're overqualified for can be a frustrating obstacle. While the competition for more advanced positions may be so fierce that you can hardly get your resume read, having employers pass on you for the opposite reason – that you're somehow too good – can feel like a slap in the face. Why does this happen, and what can you do to encourage them to give you a more serious look? If you're wondering how to get a job you're overqualified for, read on. Below we discuss four concerns employers may have about potentially overqualified candidates and how to address them during your job search.
1) They're Worried You're Struggling
When employers see a string of higher-profile jobs on your resume and then see you applying for positions with a lower pay grade, they might wonder if some negative issue is at work in your life. Could it be that you weren't performing well in those jobs, or are having some difficulty that's preventing you from continuing to climb?
How to address it:
Before fully understanding how to get a job you're overqualified for, it's helpful to identify your reasoning for applying for positions of that nature in the first place. Are you switching industries? Looking for a more manageable workload? Interested in a company or job for a specific reason? Do you simply need a job quickly and hope this will make that happen?
Only you can answer this question, but knowing the answer with clarity will help you understand your situation and needs. As you identify your motives, consider how best to frame them both positively and honestly. This will help employers see the constructive qualities you bring to the company rather than wondering if you may be underachieving or struggling in some way.
For example, suppose you found the stress of attempting to climb the ladder of increasing responsibilities not to be worth the reward, and found you'd prefer a more manageable set of responsibilities. You could talk about the difficulties or damaging effects of that previous pursuit, but that could be seen as negative, unambitious, or lacking in the skills to compete.
Instead, talk about the appealing positives of the approach you're taking now. You enjoy having mastery over your responsibilities, and find you do your best work when you can apply your focus to a defined set of responsibilities. Or perhaps the subject matter of this specific job is appealing to you and you'd like to bring your mastery and qualifications to that arena.
Whatever your situation, see if there's a way to share the appeal of their job in the light of the positives you see in it, rather than confirming any fear that this is a job you don't actually want.
2) They're Worried You Won't Stay
When it comes to overqualified candidates, concerns about turnover are often central. Turnover is a major concern for employers – the cost of losing an employee in the short run is about 1.5-2 times the employee's salary. And that's just in the short run – never mind the expense of hiring and training employees, which is an expensive process in and of itself.
The stigma here is that when a candidate is overqualified for a job, they're just looking for a short-term paycheck before moving on to bigger and better things. But the company wants to invest in people who'll stick around.
How to address it:
To help address this, express your interest in the future of the company. Ask questions about their plans for the future, the intended growth of the department you're applying for, and where the company finds itself now compared to the past. Look for ways in which your employment with them can contribute to their longer-term plans as well as the plans you have for yourself. If applicable, draw attention to your history of staying with employers for longer periods, and about ways in which your contributions served previous employers over time.
Alternatively, another approach is to lean into the potentially temporary nature of your stay with the company (especially if a temporary stay is appealing to you). You could pitch your employment with them as something like a contract stay – a way for them to benefit from having your specific skills on hand in order to reach specific goals. This works especially well if you can help them with any needs they have that need to be addressed, but not necessarily continually.
3) They're Worried You'll Feel the Job is Beneath You
Employers may be concerned that candidates who are overqualified for a job will see their position as being beneath them or their presence as some kind of failure at securing other work. This may manifest itself in the form of boredom, lack of engagement, or difficulty taking direction from management (who may themselves be concerned about providing valuable contributions to those they work with).
How to address it:
If you have negative feelings towards a job, don't apply. But if this isn't a major issue, show the employer what interests and appeals to you about what you'll be doing.
If you're not attracted to the job because it offers exceptional challenge, pay, or escalating titles, that's legitimately acceptable – so long as you make it clear what you do want with it. Even if you're taking a job just because you need money, why this job? Show the employer what appeals to you about the industry, their cause, the hours, or whatever it may be that draws you to the position over your other options. These reasons don't need to be overwhelming or giddiness-inducing, but they should be honest and allow them to see the prospect of your employment as a win-win situation for everyone.
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