So You're Overqualified for a Job You Want, Now What?
byScott ShpakFeb 24, 2015
So it's time to go back to work and you spot your ideal job. The company, the hours and the responsibility all seem in line for your updated mom-life, and the opportunity gives you that excited tingle of anticipation. You recognize, however, that your degree and previous experience may be a little hefty when compared with other applicants. Being labelled as overqualified can be difficult to overcome, but you can strategically and proactively deflect negativity through all stages in the pursuit of your ideal job.
Rearranging your resume can bury some of those qualifications that may work against you. Your mom may be disappointed that you hide your stellar post-secondary achievements, but omitting your magna cum laude might not be a bad idea, says Toronto placement specialist Carolyn Malvern. "When you sense you'll be perceived as an overachiever, it's completely fair game to leave out details such as where you placed in your graduating class. It really isn't that important when it comes to what you're offering the company in the job on the table. It's Job Hunt 101, really. Target everything toward the job you're after and show how you're the ideal candidate. No less and, in this case, no more, either."
Covering the Bases
Now that your resume is targeted to match the job, you can start to proactively address the overqualification issue. Career development specialist Dr. Randall S. Hansen writes on Quintessential Careers.com that attacking potential objections to your qualifications is the best way to derail the problem, even though it goes against the usual job-hunt conventional wisdom. "You have one advantage as a mom going back to work," says Malvern. "The interruption to your career can be leveraged to offset your qualifications, and your cover letter is a great place to introduce this idea. It's a risk, but advertising rather than hiding or omitting gives you a better chance of neutralizing the qualification question with the recruiter and gaining the interview."
Shining in Person
When it comes down to the interview, career writer Jennifer Parris, writing on FlexJobs.com, says that being proactive in person is your best bet as well. Bring up your own concerns about being thought of as overqualified, demonstrate why you're not, and focus on the specific skills you have that address the needs of the job. Most experts agree that taking money off the table is a smart move. Dr. Hansen says it's important to establish early that your previous earnings don't apply to this opportunity. Career author Karen Burns, writing for "U.S. News and World Report," says that genuine enthusiasm and desire for the position and the company are your best deal closers.
"Recruiters are human, and they know how the sting of rejection feels," says Malvern. "Some HR people may use "overqualified" to soften the message when they don't feel you're a fit for other reasons, if they give you any indication of rejection at all." Employment branding expert J. T. O'Donnell agrees. She writes on LinkedIn about the overqualified excuse, and on AOL Jobs about the hidden messages that "overqualified" really hides. O'Donnell says hiring is a discriminatory process by its nature and that your defense against the overqualified label rests in the effective management of your personal brand.