Overqualified for a role? What to do next

What to do when you're overqualified for a job you're applying for? Here's some tips.

You have extensive experience, a good education and more qualifications than you can count. Any company should be keen to have you on their team, right? Wrong. 

If you’re perceived as overqualified for a role, not only can employers feel you’re a poor risk because you’ll be dissatisfied with the job and quick to move on, but they might even feel you have better credentials than they do and ultimately have your eye on their role. 

Here’s what to do:

Let your experience speak

If you’ve made it to the interview stage, they’re definitely interested. Now it’s up to you to make them move past any potential misgivings. If you’ve been working in a senior role, try telling them about the more hands-on aspects of the job that you miss (and are good at), and why a return to these fundamentals would be a win-win for both you and the company.

Don't be desperate to land your next job 

Have you been made redundant? Are you looking for a change of pace? Your reasons don’t really matter as long as you never show desperation. Employers want to know you’ll be a good fit for this role, not that you’re so anxious you’ll take absolutely anything to get ahead.

Be honest about your motivations 

If your family has forgotten what you look like because of all the long hours you work and you’ve decided you want a role that offers you more reasonable work parameters, be honest. Just don’t forget to inject a good dose of diplomacy too.

Don’t pretend to be something you’re not 

Do you have a master’s degree or a PHD, but you’re applying for a graduate position? While it might be tempting to hide your extra credentials after being labelled as “overqualified’’, doing so will only set your career backwards. Studies show people with higher qualifications may enter at the same low level, but will usually climb the ranks more quickly.

Sell your skills

Again it’s all about how you market yourself. For example, point out how the skills you learned while completing your master’s or PHD, or running a company (whether it be time management, learning to manage people, or whatever) will ensure you’re perfectly placed to tackle the responsibilities and expectations of the new role. 

Use your networks

Networking is still by far the best method of unearthing unadvertised roles and securing a new job – perhaps even one you’re actually qualified for. Don’t forget to introduce yourself at industry gatherings and to ask friends and work colleagues if they’ve heard of any openings that could suit. All the contacts in the world won’t help if people don’t know you’re interested.

When you're overqualified for a role you're applying for don’t forget:

  • Neutralise the negatives
  • Know why you’re after the role
  • Be honest


CPA Career Mentor


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