“Sorry…You’re Overqualified”! Those can be disheartening words for sure when someone is in a feverish job search. Certainly, there are many different points of views: the job-seekers’, the company’s and the recruiter’s.
I spoke with a friend of mine who has been in this situation a couple of times while he was searching for a new job and was told that he was “overqualified for the position.” Though he was never told why he was overqualified, his senses told him that the company felt he was a ‘flight risk’ and that he would get bored far too easily. But did the company and companies in similar situations miss out on an opportunity? Hiring Managers that refuse to consider a candidate that has more qualifications than what the position calls for are far more likely to hire someone that is under-qualified! Companies should be clear and concise when speaking with candidates about the role they are interviewing for. This can save a lot of time for both the candidate and company if there is not a potential match. Job seekers may have many different reasons for taking a job that hiring managers would say they are overqualified for. Did they work ridiculously long hours? Are they starting or adding to their family? Find out what their true motivation is – this can go a long way in determining whether the candidate is a good fit. Sometimes, an “overqualified” candidate can greatly contribute to the company’s long –term organizational goals. An employer looking at hiring a slightly overqualified candidate is potentially looking into a crystal ball at the future needs of the company and being proactive as opposed to reactive.
According to Dr. Randall Hansen, founder of Quintessential Careers, one of the oldest and most comprehensive career development websites, there are tactics for helping job seekers to overcome the “overqualified” label:
1) Let your network speak for you – Nothing is stronger than a recommendation from someone who knows you and your background.
2) Focus more on skills and accomplishments than job titles.
3) Take money off the table – Be clear that your prior salary is of no relevance and that you are flexible about salary.
4) Talk about financial advantages of hiring you – If there is a concern regarding salary, use specific examples that showed how you either increased revenues, cut costs or both.
5) Talk about teamwork and personality – Show that you are a team player, that team success is far more important than individual team members.
6) Discuss ‘new’ knowledge – Did you have recent training or skills added to your background that shows you are “up-to-date”.
7) Demonstrate Loyalty – Alleviate the company’s fears of you leaving with your history of longevity at prior employers.
8) Get the interview – Be prepared to deal with the overqualified issue, if you can’t get an interview sell the hiring manager on at least giving you a meeting so that you can make your case in person.
9) Moderation – Do not overwhelm the hiring manager with your experience or ego (especially if the hiring manager is younger).
10) Express interest and enthusiasm – Nothing is better than a positive attitude and having passion for a new position and potential new employer.
Practicing some (or all) of these tips may be the difference from “Sorry…You’re Overqualified” to “Welcome Aboard”!