January 31, 2013
Are you too "overqualified" to get a job?
The bad news: Employers are often suspicious of applicants with too many qualifications. They fear you'll want too much money. Or that you're slumming until something better comes along. Or that you'll resent being supervised by a younger or less-experienced manager.
Do you fear you're being turned down for work you need because of the "O" word? Try these ideas:
Confront the issue upfront. Explain exactly why you are pursuing this particular job. Be honest yet positive. Emphasize what you can specifically do for the potential employer. Demonstrate the relationship between your qualifications and an improvement in the employer's bottom line.
Take money off the table. Assure the employer that you are simply seeking the market rate. Do not sound desperate. Sound flexible. Sound realistic. Show that, just as when you're seeking a career upgrade, your past earnings are not relevant to your current job search.
Downplay job titles. Was your last job, say, senior vice president and now you are applying for a project manager position? In your cover letter, on your resume, at the interview, emphasize skills and de-emphasize titles.
Offer to sign a contract. Consider saying, "Your company is exactly what I'm looking for; in fact, I want this job so much I will commit to stay for a minimum of a year." Mention your longevity at previous jobs.
Offer to work on a trial basis. Your superior abilities mean you'll need little or no training. You'll be so wonderful the employer may not be able to let you go.
Be enthusiastic. A sincerely positive attitude may convince the employer this job is exactly what you want, not a "second choice" or a "stop gap."
Let others speak for you. A third party's endorsement is often more powerful than anything you can say. Make sure your references are saying the right things.
Finally, the good news: So many are out of work nowadays that the "overqualified" stigma is less powerful than it once was. Good luck.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
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