What To Do When You’re Called “Overqualifiedâ€

Douglas writes:
I don’t think I’ve seen this issue in your blog before. I’ve been in the
same career — banking — for about 10 years now. I am looking for a
new job but find that the response I get from many of the employers is
either none or that I am overqualified. I love what I do so why should I
change? What should I do?

The Career Doctor responds:
There’s a dirty little secret in job-hunting and if you’re a job-seeker with
several years of experience — or worse in middle management — you may
have been exposed to it as Douglas has. What is it? It’s the label hiring
managers put on mid-career job-seekers who appear to have one of
three flaws: too many years of experience too much education and/or
too highly paid in current or previous job. Yes it’s the label many
job-seekers fear: being overqualified. Overqualified is code for “will not
fit the current position” — and be forewarned that it is a difficult label to
What can you do to overcome this unfair label? Unlike other job-hunting
problems or negatives if you feel you are going to be labeled as
overqualified you must be proactive. You will probably need to develop
an entirely new job-search strategy- – changing the way you write your
resumes and cover letters as well as how you sell yourself in job interviews.
Here are just some of the tactics you’ll need to use in implementing this

  1. Let your network speak for you. Nothing you could say about
    yourself is stronger than a recommendation from someone who knows
    you and can recommend you. The ideal scenario is for you to use your
    network to find someone within the organization and let that person
    make the first pitch for you.

  2. Focus more on skills and accomplishments than job titles. Use
    the employer’s own words — from the job description — to show how your
    skills match perfectly while at the same time downplaying skills not
    required for this job.

  3. Take salary off the table. Make it clear from the beginning that you
    are completely flexible about salary — and that your previous salary is
    of no relevance to your current job search.

  4. Reveal financial advantages of hiring you. If salary looks to be
    a concern use specific examples from your past experiences to show
    how you increased revenue generation and/or cut costs/realized
    increased savings.

  5. Emphasize teamwork and personality. Demonstrate that you are
    a team player — that the success of the team is more important than
    any of the individual team members.

Read more — including five more tactics you can use — in my article
the Overqualified Label: 10 Tactics for a Successful Job-Search

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