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How to get the job when you're overqualified

Sarah K. White | July 2, 2015
The idea of being ignored for a job because you’re overqualified may seem counterintuitive, but there are a number of reasons a company might overlook your resume for that exact reason.

This is especially true in an age where we all have some form of a digital footprint, so if you hand in a resume that doesn't match your LinkedIn profile or personal information on other social networks, the changes on your resume might work against you. You don't want to start off on the wrong foot, with a recruiter or hiring manager who may be suspicious of your motives.

Kelly Donovan, an executive resume writer, says to avoid changing any job titles, because it can lead to fast rejection if a company tries to verify your employment, only to find you have listed a different job title. She says it's safer to change the descriptions of your past and current positions; you can omit the number of people you have managed, budgets you've been in charge of and your responsibilities within each role.

Pitch yourself

If you are going for a job you are overqualified for, you should be prepared to clearly explain to the hiring manager why you want the job. Consider it a personal pitch. Whether it's in the interview, in your cover letter or on your resume, you should be ready to make a hiring manager understand why you are going for a position that may be a step down.

According to certified career coach and professional resume writer, Cheryl E. Palmer, you can do this by flipping the interview questions onto the hiring manager. "Ask the employer what they are looking for in the perfect candidate," says Palmer. "This will give you insight into what qualities and skills the employer is looking for." With this information, you can alleviate concerns that the hiring manager or recruiter might have about you.

Be upfront

When gunning for a job that is a step down, don't be coy about your intentions. The hiring manager will probably be concerned that you won't want to stick around long or that you won't feel challenged in the role, which are all good reasons not to hire someone. Avoid this by remaining clear and upfront with the hiring manager -- tell her exactly why you want to take the job, and help her understand your motivation.

"Employers will be very concerned that you'll be eager to take the next higher-paying opportunity that comes along, so be ready to alleviate their concerns by explaining why you want to be at a lower level and how long you want to be at that level," says Donovan.

Companies aren't interested in someone who plans to stay only for a short period of time or who will be bored quickly. They want someone who feels invested in the role and who can help support the team. Let them know you have every intention of taking the job seriously.

 

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