When you’re applying for a position, being told that you’re “overqualified” for a job you know you could do well can be frustrating. After all, having higher qualifications than what a job requires should be a good thing, shouldn’t it? To job seekers, it leaves us wondering why it’s a deal-breaker.

So what’s the concern about being overqualified?

Here’s what hiring managers might be thinking.

1. We can’t pay you enough. Employers will often assume that if you have more experience or education than the job requires, your salary expectations are probably higher than the role pays too.

Solution: If you know hiring managers are likely to worry about your salary expectations, you can simply state that you’re clear about the lower pay that comes with the position.

2. If you take this job, you’ll be bored. Hiring managers often think that someone who used to do higher-level or more interesting work can’t possibly be happy with less challenging responsibilities, and they assume that you’ll quickly get bored, frustrated and then want to leave.

Solution: You can explain that you are genuinely interested in the position. For instance, you might share that while your kids are in school, you want a job with stable hours that doesn’t require the level of responsibility you’ve had in the past – or whatever is really true for you. (And that’s key – it needs to ring true for you; don’t make something up.)

3. You’ll leave as soon as something better comes around. Because hiring managers often can’t understand why someone would want a lower position than what his or her background might qualify them for, they often assume that you’re only interested in the job because you’re feeling desperate. They figure you’ll take it for the paycheck, but that you’ll leave as soon as something more suited to your background comes along.

Solution: Let them know that this type of work is really exciting and that you want to be challenged in a different way now. Convey the message that you are properly qualified and they will benefit from hiring you.

Here is a sample answer: “For me, this isn’t about stepping down the ladder, it’s about ensuring that I am doing what I am best suited to do, which ensures that I feel fulfilled and that I do the best by my job. I feel that my previous role has enabled me to have a greater understanding of the bigger picture and how everything works but I know I’m happier doing this work direct.”

So what do you do if you’re hearing that you’re overqualified for jobs that you actually want? The best thing you can do is to understand the concerns above and address them head-on.

But once you get to the interview stage, be prepared to discuss it again, and probably in more detail. What are some of the concerns you have had to face as an “overqualified” candidate?

by Carole Marinier, blogger for Agilec


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