Initially being too qualified for a job sounds great. You can tick off all of the requirements on the job spec. A Hiring Manger should be thrilled to see your CV roll through, right? Well, not exactly. Sometimes being overqualified for a job can actually work against you. It may raise some red flags for Hiring Managers and Recruiters, causing them to skip over your CV before you even get a chance to make your case in a job interview. However, the good news is you can use this guide to help you find out what to do if you are overqualified for a job position.
What’s Wrong with Being Overqualified for a Job?
When a Hiring Manger or Recruiter tells you that you are overqualified for a job, you may be left wondering: why does that matter if I can do the job? The truth is overqualified job applicants can sometimes scare prospective employers.
Here are some reasons why:
- They will assume you will ask for more money
To avoid wasting anyone’s time with an interview, a hiring manager may presume you have high salary expectations and not willing to take a pay cut. As a result, they are likely to put you in the ‘no’ stack.
- They are worried that you are using the job as a temporary fix
Hiring managers may think you are using the job as a temporary fix, particularly, if you have been laid off, until you find your ultimate senior-level role. That means that a potential turnover, which costs companies money and time.
- They are worried that you will get bored
They may be concerned that you will get bored of the role because you will not be challenged with a lower-level role that will not match your experience level.
- They think you may have trouble doing particular tasks or taking direction
They may be concerned that you could have trouble doing particular tasks or taking direction from the hiring, who could potentially have less experience than you and this can make you feel as though you do not belong.
At the end of the day, companies like to hire those who are likely to stick around and be satisfied, and if you are overqualified, they may assume you will be leaving sooner rather than later.
Signs That You Are Overqualified
Before you go applying for jobs, it is crucial to understand if you are actually overqualified. That way, you can address these concerns in your CV.
Here’s how to tell if you may be overqualified for a job position.
- Go back to the job spec and see if you meet and exceed all of the requirements listed. If you meet every single requirement, this could mean that you are overqualified, especially if you have been in the field a long time. A Hiring Manger may presume you need a position that enables you to climb the career ladder – not move laterally.
- If you are unaware of the base salary for the job you have applied for, use a salary insights tool such as Glassdoor to help determine if the job pays less than your current role.
- You thought the interview was easy – including the skills assessment. For example, if you applied for a content writing position and received a writing assessment that took you just 10 minutes to finish, that is a sure sign that you are overqualified.
- If you left the interview feeling that you nailed it, that is great – but it could also be a sign that you are a bit too comfortable.
- If the company has a profile on LinkedIn, take a look at the employees who would likely be working on your team. What is their experience like? Where do you stand?
This generally takes some evaluation on your part, however, if you take these steps you can usually see more clearly if you are overqualified for a job.
How to Address Being Overqualified for a Job on Your CV
If you are truly overqualified for a job but you are interested in the role, there are ways to get ahead of this objection by tailoring your CV.
Follow these simple steps below:
- Tailor your CV to the job
You should be doing this with all job applications, however, when you are overqualified, it is even more important to tailor your CV to the job. Rather than emphasising your managerial or leadership skills, highlight your other skills specifically noted in the job spec. Years of experience is also another point that overqualified applicants must address when tailoring their CVs. Some advice out there will tell you to remove specific higher-level positions, however, there is no need to do that, especially if it is a recent experience. Stay honest, simply tailoring your CV to better fit he job spec if you are interested in the job.
- Use your CV summary to your advantage
The days are gone of writing a CV objective statement; however, your CV should still have a career summary where you highlight your relevant qualifications. Consider it an elevator pitch – but for your CV. Job applicants should ensure they match the details in the job spec. In your career summary, you can briefly explain why you are looking to transition to the role you are applying for, particularly, if you are leaving a more senior-level position. For example, perhaps being a manager has taken away from what you actually love doing.
- Remove the dates on your education
Most of the time, there is no need to list the date you received your degrees or graduated from college. This not only opens you up to potential ageism. It also provides the Hiring Manager or Recruiter with an opportunity to very quickly write you off as overqualified. Just because you graduated 10 years ago does not mean you have to be in a senior-level position. It is best to just remove the dates on your education to avoid snappy judgement.
- Lean on your cover letter
Beyond your CV, your cover letter is an excellent place to explain why you are interested in a job, particularly if you are potentially overqualified. Use your cover letter to fill in the blanks of your CV and explain your experiences, your career arc and your qualifications. Use this one-page letter to address any potential objections.
If you can effectively address that you are overqualified but still a great fit for the role in your CV and cover letter, then you may land the job interview, which will provide you with an additional opportunity to ease any concerns. For example, if the interviewer directly asks you about being overqualified, you can ask why they think that and address their concerns. However, be careful not to downplay your experience. Rather, tailor it to the job and expand on why you are interested in it. If you continue to get the same feedback about being overqualified, it may be time to reconsider your job search or give your resume a good edit. Ultimately, persistence and patience will pay off, so keep at it.