Thursday, March 25, 2010

Applying When Overqualified

In this lousy job market, it can be tempting to apply for jobs for which you're overqualified.

Perhaps you shouldn't. You may well be sad doing a lower-level job and reporting to someone you view as your inferior. And in the future, when you want to apply for a higher-level job, employers will wonder why you took a step down: Were you a bad employee? Did you have a nervous breakdown? Cancer?

If you do decide to apply when overqualified, in your cover letter and early in job interviews, preempt employers' objections to your being overqualified. Examples:

  • Although I've been a manager, I also enjoy being an individual contributor.
  • My having been a higher-level employee is a plus--not only will those higher-level skills be of use in this job, I can empathize with the pressures you, as a boss, face.
  • If you're concerned that someone with my background might jump to another job, know that I'm not a job hopper--When I accept a position, my plan is to stay for at least two years. Hopefully by then, you'll see that I'm worthy of a promotion.


Anonymous said...

This post is timely for me. Due to our state's unemployment regulations, we are required to apply for 3 jobs per week. This inevitably leads to applying for jobs I am overqualified for, simply because my area of expertise is not in demand. You have some good suggestions that I will use.

Anonymous said...

It's not always seen that way.

It may be true that once the economy recovers and better jobs are available, employers might very well ask why the underemployed took a step down, but this piece claims that right now, some companies see hiring overqualified workers as getting more for less. This article also links to an abstract from a study claiming "that many of the negatives that come with overqualified hires can be mitigated if they are given autonomy and made to feel valued and respected."


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