Remember back when you were a new grad and applying for every job mentioning your degree, only to be told you didn’t have enough experience? Now, you’ve got years of experience under your belt and the skill set and experience to get any of those jobs you applied for years ago, but you’re faced with one critical problem. You’re now overqualified.
Hiring managers tend to overlook candidates with too much experience. Often they’re worried that the applicant will jump ship as soon as something comes along that they’re better suited for, or that they’ll expect a salary that’s greater than their budget.
“We tend to think of lower-level jobs as a way to pay our dues in order to advance,” says Kim Stiens, hiring consultant and founder and CEO of career advice site . When reviewing resumes of individuals who seem to have already put in those dues, employers may be skeptical of why they want to take a step back. They worry the candidate won’t be engaged enough in the position. “Employers want to hire the best candidate, and often, that actually means hiring someone for whom the position is a stretch; they’re perhaps a bit underqualified, but hungry and eager to do the work.” says Stiens. It might be hard to see an overqualified candidate as ambitious.
While there are many good arguments around not hiring someone too qualified for the position, that doesn’t mean you can’t still land that job.
CLARIFY WHY YOU WANT THE JOB
Are you looking for greater work-life balance or a less stressful and less time-consuming job than your existing role? Are you entering a new industry and feel the need to start in an entry-level position? Or are you simply looking to move away from your current company, regardless of whether it’s an upward, lateral, or downward move? Understanding your own motives is the first step to landing the gig.
FOCUS ON WHAT THE JOB BRINGS TO YOU
Hiring managers want to know that the job is a good fit for you. The last thing you want them thinking is that it doesn’t make sense why you are applying. Tell the hiring manager what aspects of the job are appealing to you and show how the position fits into your career goals. Perhaps you’ve been performing a similar role in nonprofits for a few years, and you want to apply to a big company doing something similar or at a lower level.
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