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Have you ever been told that you are “overqualified” for a position? What does this really mean? You know you can do the job, you are willing to do it, you’d be the perfect candidate, and the employer is rejecting you because you have what?…too many qualifications?! Seems a little ironic, no? You can help them, you’re available, and you’ll even take the salary package…..why don’t they want you? What is the story here? The story is usually FEAR. What the company means is that they are afraid…of being burned.
Let’s consider things from their point of view. When a candidate has considerable experience at a higher level than a given job opening, the employer wonders why this person wants the job and suspects all types of problems: Is the candidate having some difficulty getting a job at the right level? If so, maybe she just wants this job “in the meantime” but will leave as soon as the right opportunity presents itself? or perhaps the person would work out well initially, but become bored quickly and will leave for a more challenging position? The employer also often assumes that the candidate is used to a higher salary and is going to be a problem during salary negotiations. So, now can you begin to understand their hesitation?
What can you do if you are hearing the “OQ” comment? Assure the employer that you are “fully qualified” not “overqualified.” Be sure to address the concerns that they may be thinking. Your cover letter should highlight your enthusiasm for the opening and the desire to be productive for that employer. Check your resume – be sure you “downsize” the focus on your more senior level achievements and highlight contributions at this particular level instead. During the interview, convey how you can hit the ground running. Bring up the fact that you are looking to be paid fairly for the level of the position and you realize that your prior compensation was for a different level of responsibility. Do your homework to see what it is they need and address it. As always, wishing you the best of success!