Thursday, September 29, 2011

How to Overcome the “Overqualified” Stigma in the Job Search

As the job market gets more competitive and finding a job gets tougher, more workers find themselves in a position of needing to accept a job that is well below their level of pay or experience. These candidates may find themselves in a phone screening or an interview only to be told they are overqualified. This term is usually another way for the employer to express one of the following fears:

• The candidate is going to cost too much in salary

• The candidate is just looking for a temporary position until something better comes along

• The candidate will be bored at work and have a poor attitude

• The hiring manager is intimidated by the candidate and fears the candidate will threaten their own job security

If you find yourself forced to apply for positions that are below your pay or experience levels, how do you combat and overcome these obstacles? Here are some strategies you can use to ensure a successful job search – even when you are overqualified.

• Tailoring your resume and cover letter to the job for which you are applying becomes more important than ever in this situation. Remove the information from the resume that is irrelevant to the position or company for which you are applying.

• Try to avoid the temptation to “dumb down” your experience on the resume. Instead of omitting experience – which may feel like you are being untruthful – instead face the problem head-on.

• Use the cover letter to address your situation. Express your enthusiasm for working for their particular company and your willingness to start at a lower level in order to accept the opportunity to work for their company. Talk about your interest in a job and company that offers long-term growth potential.

• In the interview, be as direct as possible. Before salary is even discussed, you can mention that your current salary expectations and needs are very different that they were in previous positions.

• Focus on the positive aspects of your experience. The knowledge, skills, and abilities you bring to the team can help make everyone around you better and more productive. However, be very diplomatic about how you present this type of an idea so you don’t look like someone who will step on the boss’ toes.

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