As a seasoned professional, being labeled as 'overqualified' is frustrating. You have the experience, so why don’t employers value it? Let's face it: today's job search is much different than job search was 20 years ago. Here are few things you need to know about getting a job when you're tagged as 'overqualified.'
In today’s day and age, what does it really mean to be "qualified" for a job? Unfortunately, for many people in the job market, it means they have the experience and education to do the job well. While these factors are important, they only really qualify you for a possible job interview. It gets you in the door but as you may have noticed, it doesn't get you hired. Almost everyone who gets an in-person interview is qualified ‘enough’. The rest is up to you. Are you the person they want to work with every day? Related: How To Sell Yourself And Get Hired Several months ago, I wrote this article discussing the number one reason you don't get hired after an interview. I related that enthusiasm, passion, and presence trumps all in the job interview process. And, just like I had heard from many in the past, several comments on that article balked at the idea that a good education and solid work experience isn't enough. But the truth is, it's not and never will be. I can't express in words how difficult it is for managers to manage attitude problems. The cost of hiring a 'qualified' applicant who is set in his or her ways, is only there for the paycheck, is unwilling to consistently go above and beyond the job responsibilities, complains incessantly, and is a clock-watcher comes with a very high cost most companies wish to avoid. Attitude issues fall into a gray area when it comes to employee performance issues. With the various employment laws in place combined with lawsuit-happy employees, companies can be stuck dealing with an employee who has a bad attitude and only does the bare minimum to get by, for years, simply to avoid a potential lawsuit that could erupt from a termination. While that personality type or issue is at the extreme end, the typical qualified applicant is usually 'average'. He or she may complain some (but not incessantly), may work an additional half hour to an hour (or slightly more or less) per week, may help out in other areas on a rare occasion, and may do their job well. This, however, is neither an ideal candidate nor an ideal employee. Being average and simply getting your job done correctly is not enough in the corporate work environment. A huge part of the job interview process, on the employer's end, is determining if you are a good fit for the company. This is based solely on your attitude, personality, work style, and work ethic. A company who wants to rise up to the next level needs employees who are present, excited, and passionate about their work. No matter what education and past work experience you have, at best, you can only give approximately 77% of your true potential if you are not excited to be there doing your job. You simply won't be nearly as engaged in your work as someone who is. According to the Society of Human Resources Management, approximately 80% of employees are disengaged at work. Employers want people who they believe will fall in the remaining 20%. That's a tall task. In the end, when a hiring decision needs to be made, most employers will choose an honest individual who shows presence, enthusiasm, and passion for the company and the job over hard skills and qualifications. A go-getter - an individual, who consistently goes above and beyond, has a positive attitude, communicates well, and is flexible and inspiring. The employer wants to know that the individual hired truly will care about the job and the company and consistently and enthusiastically show it in how they operate at work. When I was involved in interviewing and hiring employees, sometimes we would lower a job title from manager level to non-manager level just because we met a passionate, enthusiastic person in the job interview process who wouldn't quite fit into a manager role. But their personality was so engaging that we wanted to fit him or her into the company somehow. And we believed we could train that person in job skills they were lacking. Whenever that plan failed, and it wasn't often, it was because the person put on a good show in the interview and simply didn't have the enthusiasm, passion and presence we thought we saw before he or she was hired. It rarely (if ever) fails because the person simply couldn't learn the job skills he or she was lacking. Many older candidates feel very strongly that 'this' isn't how it used to be and shouldn’t be today. No, maybe it's not. But what good does it do you to wish it was the way it used to be and refuse to accept the reality of today? Life is ever-changing and living in the present moment is the only way to succeed. It is critical to your success that you surrender to how it 'is' now. If you want to be considered as one of the 20%, commit to changing how you look at things. You don't have to accept the automatic thoughts that pop in your head on this topic that tell you differently. Question them and understand that your beliefs about what you think matters most in a candidate may need some tweaking. Be open to this message. No matter how much education and relevant work experience you have, you really aren't the best person or a shoo-in for any job unless you really want to do it and it authentically shows in your interviews. Employers want to see that you are going to excitedly give 150% to this job and company and you won't spend your days complaining about it. The truth is, if you are applying to jobs just so you can get paid, you likely won't show up as the person they wish to hire. While many, many people can and do fake their way through an interview (trying hard to express passion, excitement, and presence), and then get hired and show up at work otherwise, being authentically enthusiastic, passionate, and present trumps all and always will. If you aren't excited about the work you are applying to do, it's time to re-evaluate the choices you are making in your life. When you are in the right interview for the right job it will show with a little effort on your part and you won't have to try to ‘remember’ to bring those qualities with you. This post was originally published at an earlier date.
Picture this scenario: you walk into an interview, you nail every question, your chemistry with the interviewer is undeniable, you’re told that they love you and think you’d be a great fit and that you’ll hear from them soon. Related: 3 Resume Tips To Avoid Appearing Overqualified You walk out the door, a smile on your face and extra pep in your step. You just nailed it. The job is yours. It’s not. In a couple of days you get an e-mail to let you know that they went in a different direction, and you’re confused about what could have possibly went wrong. You have 10 years of experience to the seven being asked for. You have a PhD, have held senior positions, and you’re genuinely excited about this role. Yes, the title isn’t SVP, it’s VP, but the company and the new responsibilities are worth it. They would be lucky to have you! You’re 100% correct. You may have been a slam-dunk for the role, but that is precisely what may have disqualified you. You’re overqualified, and this new company is afraid to take a chance and bring you onboard because it’s worried you’ll leave the second an opportunity that aligns with your stature becomes available. Or, since you have done this all before you will get bored and make your exit as soon as you hear of role where you can be challenged. You’d be a great fit, but you’re also too great of a risk. Companies want employees they can count on for the long haul. How do you handle being “overqualified?” You frame your resume to focus less on titles and years of experience and more on relevant hands-on skills. You let the interviewer know why that specific role appeals to you and how it will help you grow and how your experience will help the company grow. You include a summary at the top of your resume clarifying why you want that specific role and how it fits into your career path. The role in question isn’t a placeholder until you find something better. It is a part of the career you are building. You hit them over the head with information stating “I want this role, I will grow in this role, do not be daunted by my past experience, it is an asset, not a hindrance.” Being overqualified doesn’t mean all hope is lost. It means you have to tailor your resume and your pitch to your situation and sell yourself to the interviewer. Show you are a crucial piece of their puzzle, and make the case that saying no to you would be a missed opportunity for both parties. Speak to us and we will discuss a strategy that is right for your job search and career. This post was originally published at an earlier date.
With the job market saturated with highly qualified candidates who have been laid off from jobs they’ve held for years, it’s no secret many are now interested in applying for jobs that may fall below their level of expertise. Related: 3 Resume Tips To Avoid Appearing Overqualified If you are a candidate who may be overqualified for a job you’re considering, think about making adjustments to your resume to help you get the job.