How to Avoid Being Overqualified for a Job
Improve your resume and cover letter to overcome that obstacle. Have you ever felt or been told that you didn’t get a job because the employer thought you were overqualified? Are you wondering how to overcome this type of discrimination?
You’re not alone. An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey found that one-third of participants age 50 and older who had looked for a job in the previous five years were told they were overqualified.
Luckily, there are steps you can take that may help you overcome that label and get the job. The first step is to understand why recruiters and hiring managers may have reservations about older workers whose qualifications may significantly exceed the minimum requirements of a position. Once you’ve done that, you can create a job search strategy and overcome those doubts.
How to Avoid Being overqualified for a job
When employers read the resumes of candidates who have more experience than the job requires, some ideas they might consider include:
- Does the applicant really want this type of job, or did they just misread the job description?
- Was this person forced to seek a lower-level job because there were concerns about his or her skills or personality?
- Given this candidate’s background, you may expect to be paid a higher salary than was budgeted for the position.
- This person has had managerial functions in other jobs. You may have difficulty following orders.
- If I hire this candidate, he might get bored with the job or quit when a better opportunity comes along. It’s not worth the risk.
Of course, sometimes when they tell us that we are overqualified for a position, they really mean that they consider us “too old” for the job. Unfortunately, age discrimination is still widespread in the labor market. Employers may question whether an older, more experienced employee will be able to take on the workload:
- Is the candidate well versed in modern technology and has the necessary skills to perform the job, or should we invest in more training?
- Does this applicant have any health problems that affect his or her ability to perform the job?
- Will this person be able to take direction from leaders who are younger and possibly less experienced than they are?
You can solve these issues by creating a good job search strategy by improving your resume, writing an effective cover letter, leveraging your network, and perfecting your interview strategy.
Tailor your resume to match the position you’re applying for
Try following these tips to make sure that with your new résumé, employers know your value, not your age.
- Include only what is important to the position. Tailor your resume for the job you’re looking for: highlight the skills and experience that match the job opening and eliminate or minimize the rest. In particular, it can be helpful to downplay your managerial experience when applying for a lower-level job.
- Avoid elements that expose your age. Use modern models and standards for your resume. For example, it is no longer customary to write a goal description (in English). Instead, a brief professional summary of your qualifications is usually used. Also, remove details that indicate how old you are now, such as the dates of your work experience, your education, and other certificates that are more than 15 years old. Also, limit the information you mention about your previous work experience to these 15 years and remove anything that says the total number of years of work experience you have. For example, do not write in your summary “professional with more than 20 years of experience…”
Be honest in your cover letter
When it comes to your cover letter, get straight to the point. Be honest and transparent about why you are applying for a position that requires less experience than you have. For example, you can explain that:
- You are looking for a position with less stress and responsibility.
- You want to spend more time with your family and loved ones, so now the best thing for you is a part-time job.
- You want to get back to doing the work you love.
Use your contacts to break through
Several studies have shown that you are more likely to find a job when your application is accompanied by a recommendation. In particular, it’s very helpful to have a referral from a current employee or hiring manager contact when you want to land a job that doesn’t seem to match your experience level.
As you start to find companies and opportunities that interest you, check with your personal and professional contacts to see if anyone can help you get a foot in the door. When a colleague says you’re interested in the position, the hiring manager is more likely to be less concerned that you’re not willing to commit to the job.
Don’t let the interviewer make assumptions.
During the interview, address concerns head-on and turn them into positives when you discuss the explanation you gave in your cover letter. Don’t wait for the employer to mention it. It’s up to you to make the employer stay calm. Discuss your concerns early on and turn your employer’s doubts into positives by mentioning how you can add value to the team. From being a great mentor to knowing how to resolve conflicts and being professional in sticky situations, hiring an experienced professional has many benefits.
Your sincerity and enthusiasm will help keep the hiring manager unconcerned. In your interview, he also considers these tips:
- Steer the conversation toward your most notable accomplishments.
- Mention that you are committed to the company and plan to stay a long time.
- Show enthusiasm and optimism about the possibility of getting the position and about the value you would bring to the job.
- Be yourself, and no one else. If you try to appear younger than you are, you run the risk of making it look like you’re trying too hard.
- Highlight your flexibility regarding work hours and availability to travel (if applicable). Candidates with young families may not have as much flexibility, so the ability to work outside of the usual 9-5 hours can set you apart from the competition.
It may not be easy, but it is possible to get a job that you seem overqualified for. By considering why employers have concerns about hiring candidates with your level of experience, you can put a plan in place to address those concerns directly.
I am overqualified for the position, how do I defend myself in the interview?
Why am I called for an interview and then dismissed because I’m overqualified? Why don’t they hire me if they are functions that I master perfectly?
Isn’t it better to hire someone who already knows how to do the “job right” and can actually contribute in other areas?
Generally, a recruiter is not going to call you in for an interview without some assurance that you can take the position.
He understands that you are overqualified, but he is giving you a chance.
But there are 3 doubts that you have that could make you cancel your candidacy, and I understand that it will help you move forward and be selected for the position.
In fact, when a candidate fails to answer these three questions, recruiters automatically shield themselves by saying “you’re overqualified” without going into detail.
But it is a real pity that this is not talked about,
So I bring you the explanation.
Here is the situation:
These are the three doubts (which we will call myths), which you will have to face and be able to debate. They won’t ask you, but I assure you they will be on the table.
Bring them to light and rinse them.
I present to you:
1. Salary: If a person earns 5 thousand dollars, being in a position that earns 20% less, for example, it could be felt that “he is receiving less than what he is worth”.
2. Experience: In general, people seek greater challenges, to achieve new learning and things that previously represented obstacles over time could end up being boring, and more so if they are repetitive.
3. Hierarchy: Having held a higher position and then assuming a position of lower weight or rank could make the person feel “inferior” to how he was before. In addition, conflicts can arise regarding your vision of how management does things if you do not agree.
Why this is a problem for the recruiter
The recruiter fears that one of these three will occur since he is evaluated based on his selection decisions.
If the person is hired and leaves after a few weeks because another company offers him a higher salary, then the error is the “recruiter’s” because he selected an “overqualified” person.
If a person leaves after a few weeks or months, another recruitment process has to be carried out and the company will have to wait for the candidate to be found, select the candidate, coordinate their entry into the company and wait for them to adapt and begin to perform ( learning curve).
This can be a lot of money for the company spent and operational delays so this decision is vital.
Another concern that the company may have is hiring a candidate who cannot adapt to the functions, his team, and the bosses (for the reason of being overqualified).
He is a person who has led people who now lead him.
Not everyone finds it easy to assume this in a positive way:
Taking orders he might not be able to agree to, earning less than he should be earning, and no longer having the job he had fought so hard for.
Therefore, if you want to have a chance for that vacancy you must attack these three points.
It is not only about selling how much you know and dominate but how much security you give the company that hiring you is the best decision.
How to respond when you’re overqualified
During the interview process, I invite you, first, not to look for a job just to search.
Learn how to identify a company that can value your experience and researches it.
In the interview, it will be noticed that you are interested in working in it more than in what you are going to earn and that you are interested in resuming your career and growing within the organization or perhaps aiming for another area.
(It all depends on the type of vacancy. This could take many more variables).
By the way, let it be known that you understand that you are overqualified, but that your main motivation is to belong to the company.
Also, let them know that even if you do more operational activities that will not be a problem.
If you have a personal story that helps you give weight to what you say, it is much better!
With this, you will answer myths 1 and 2…
If you have ever had younger or less experienced bosses, comment on how it went. If not, then mention your opinions about it.
But since it’s something very personal I couldn’t tell you how to respond!
They must be good contributions and well justified, so be prepared.
If you don’t know how to answer this, I recommend going to a Labor Advisor (with proven experience).
Let them know that you are the best choice AMONG ALL.
–My personal note and +Recommendations
As I mentioned before, it is best to look for vacancies that fit your profile by learning how the labor market works, since there are people who find employment more easily than others.
Because in most cases they will not give you the opportunity to go to an interview.
Although I give you these answers, probably what you most want is to get a position in your category, and you are looking for a lower position because you do not get better alternatives.
I mean, it’s not what you’re looking for.
And if so, seek professional advice.
Is it better to be overqualified or underqualified?
Can you get hired if you’re overqualified?
Being overqualified can be a disadvantage when it comes to getting a job due to the suspicion on the part of some companies, but there are some steps to follow to minimize its consequences.
Although training is one of the basic tools to increase employability in a labor market where constant change reigns, there are times when it is detrimental. Overqualification represents a mismatch between the skills of the worker and those required for the job, a situation that often causes candidates to be rejected.
When faced with a person with excessive training, employers take into account several aspects. For example, if the applicant is a philologist and applies for a position as a waiter, his lack of experience in the world of restoration is probably at a disadvantage compared to a person with experience in that sector.
In addition, the human resources professional may think that the candidate is desperate to find a job as soon as possible, but that he will leave the position at the slightest opportunity to find a job that he likes better or that pays better. Another reason not to hire an overqualified person is the risk that their future colleagues will be reluctant to collaborate with more qualified people.
Overqualification is a phenomenon that not only affects professionals with more experience, but also young people. According to the latest report from the BBVA Foundation and the Valencian Institute for Economic Research (IVIE), “The training and employment of young Spaniards.
Recent trajectory and future scenarios”, more than 22% of workers with university studies occupy a position for which a lower level of studies would suffice. This data would place Spain as one of the countries most affected by overqualification when compared to others, such as France or Germany, where the problem affects less than 15% of workers with university studies.
The Labor Community Trabajando.com – Universia wanted to collect some advice to be the chosen candidate, even if overqualified:
-Avoid lying in the resume
Do not eliminate studies or work experiences. On the other hand, the application must always be adapted to the job offered, emphasizing the experience and skills that may be more closely linked to the job offer.
-Prepare a good cover letter
When presenting the CV it is advisable to attach a cover letter. It should specify why you are interested in working for the company and what you can contribute. Describe the skills and personality traits that most connect with the requirements of the position, as well as highlight the motivation to work for the company.
– Be clear about your motivations
Analyze the reasons they have for accepting a job with an academic level or lower demands than they have to avoid feeling frustrated.
-Propose a permanence commitment
Employers fear that skilled workers will leave the company as soon as they get a better job, so proposing to stay for a specific time would build trust between both parties.
-Avoid arguments about money
While it is an important issue, it should not be presented as the main motivation for getting the job. This will make the recruiter think that the candidate will leave the company at any time because he is not aligned with his mission and his values.
“If you have been rejected for being overqualified, the best option is to adapt your professional profile and emphasize the differential value that you offer to the company. They must also show real interest in the company”, says Javier Caparrós, CEO of Trabajando.com. “The most important thing is to highlight the traits that make him the ideal person for the vacant position, as well as his desire to learn what he does not know,” he emphasizes.
Do companies reject overqualified?
WHAT WORRIED YOU WHEN YOU STARTED YOUR CAREER? SOMETHING THAT MANY HAVE IN MIND IS THE FACT THAT THE COMPANIES THAT INTERESTED US AT THAT TIME WERE LOOKING FOR CANDIDATES WITH MUCH MORE EXPERIENCE THAN US. WHAT HAPPENS 15 YEARS AFTER THAT MOMENT? IT TURNS OUT THAT HE NOW HAS MORE EXPERIENCE AND KNOWLEDGE THAN COMPANIES SEEM TO WANT.
If you are looking for a job, this situation will have crossed your mind. It is possible that you consider different solutions: look for new opportunities in your sector, renew your career towards jobs of a different nature… but there is something more important that you must do before establishing a search plan, and creating your personal brand.
HOW DOES AN EMPLOYEE FEEL WHEN THEY REALIZE THEY ARE OVERQUALIFIED?
According to the specialized column on Career Coaching in BBC – Capital: “There are three response categories that human resources consultants use to classify overqualified candidates”, according to Johnatan Mazzocchi, director and hiring executive at WinterWyman:
First: “there will be that candidate who has many years of experience but who does not fit the role because it is too small for him.” The second is “the candidate who has many skills and therefore could get bored.” Finally, the third group: “those who, due to their achievements, would easily find another job”.
If you have found yourself in this situation, you must first adapt your profile to the demands of the market you are applying for. There are many practical tips about job hunting, but there is something that will make your experience different: story-telling. This technique is based on telling, almost narratively, your projects and achievements, in such a way that it makes your personal brand much more attractive.
AVOID THE HUMAN RESOURCES DEPARTMENTS
Many times your resume in the circumstances described above can reach the hands of the Human Resources staff and be rejected simply because they understand that with more experience you do not fit the profile they are looking for. For this reason, it would not be bad for you to evaluate your possibilities, that is, you could have first contact with those responsible for the area of the company to which you want to apply, to obtain information that will better prepare you for the position.
At the time of the interview with the head of human resources, experts advise that you modify your resume, reducing titles or job titles, in such a way that you can minimize the effect of your over experience.
THE SOLUTION: DEMONSTRATE YOUR PASSION
You need that story that explains why you are the right candidate for the job, that makes clear your experience, and your professional and personal ambitions. It is important to give the impression that you want to progress and that each job will give you the possibility to continue growing; This attitude is highly valued by companies.
Let the interviewer see you are prepared and welcome this type of opportunity.