How To Apply For A Job You Are Overqualified For

Robin Schwartz

Robin Schwartz

Professional Human Resources (PHR) Certified

Being highly qualified is not usually a negative when it comes to career opportunities. There are times when an organization might hesitate at the resume of an applicant who appears to be more experienced than they need.

Why Is Being Overqualified A Concern?

Job seekers need to understand why companies may avoid hiring applicants who are qualified above the expectations of the position.

Recruiters and hiring managers often see overqualified applicants in these categories as individuals looking for any opportunity at all until the right one comes along. They worry you are more concerned about a paycheck than a career.

Companies may have a variety of other concerns about considering an overqualified applicant based on their industry. If you are seriously interested in a job opportunity, it is important to approach the application and interview process correctly to ensure you are not automatically disqualified.

Tailor Your Resume

Resumes should always be tailored to specific job opportunities when you apply, but it is even more important to make sure your resume is not too intimidating when you are overqualified for the role.

While resumes should be an accurate snap shot of your career history, they do not need to include every single job you have had. Consider removing any jobs from your resume that are not applicable to the position in an effort to make your years of experience seem less intimidating.

You should review the positions on your resume that are applicable to the job you are applying to. Remove any duties, responsibilities or other language that goes beyond what the company is asking for.

For example: If you are applying for a Warehouse Associate role, avoid listing duties that note your previous management experience or your role implementing new processing initiatives.

If you are not using education as a qualifier for the position, consider leaving off advanced degrees from your resume. Seeing an applicant with a Master’s degree or PhD may be an immediate disqualifier for some hiring representatives if the position is entry level or only requires a few years of experience.

Clarify In Your Cover Letter

Job seekers should always discuss their reasons for being interested in a position within the cover letter they supply to the employer. While cover letters are not the place to provide personal information to potential employers, it helps to note the reason you are asking to be considered for the opportunity – especially if you are in the process of a location or career change.

Discuss your reasons for being interested in the position, but don’t go so far as to repeat your resume. The cover letter should expand on skills and qualifications that are addressed in your resume and how they make you a great candidate for the position.

Confidently express your ability to be successful in the role without sounding like you already know how to do it all.

Be Open During Your Interview

During interviews, it is important to clarify again why the position interests you and what you can bring to the role. It is often helpful to take a “no task is too small” attitude when talking about your past experiences. This shows the company that you are willing to fulfill the duties of position you may seem to be overqualified for.

Be upfront with interviewers (while remaining professional) about why you are applying for the position. If you have relocated to an area with a smaller market for your chosen profession, explain to them you understand that in order to continue with your career, you have to consider all opportunities.

It is also possible that you have decided to take advantage of an early retirement from your previous organization but want to remain active in your field. Providing valuable insight to your interviewers may alleviate their concerns about hiring someone who is too experienced for the role.

Be Flexible About Salary

For many hiring managers, they discount overly qualified applicants not because they are concerned about their experience, but because they are concerned they can’t afford them. Understand that when entering salary discussions or negotiations with companies, you will not likely be able to command your current rate.

You risk being disqualified from further consideration for failing to have reasonable expectations.

Applying to (and being considered for) jobs that you are overqualified for takes some finesse. You should not get discouraged if you aren’t getting the responses from companies you hoped for.

Continue editing and tailoring your resume, providing appropriate and insightful information on your cover letter, and impressing hiring managers during your interviews!

About The Author

Robin Schwartz
LinkedIn

Robin Schwartz

Robin Schwartz is a PHR certified HR professional with a broad range of expertise including recruitment, performance management, employee relations and talent management. She leverages her years of experience in HR to bring functional change to organizational leadership and direction to management structures and employees.

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