It sounds ridiculous – being overqualified for a job shouldn’t be a problem. But to many employers, it is one – they may think the job is temporary to you, or that you’ll expect extremely high pay. Before they toss your application, it’s up to you to prove them wrong – and it’s easier to do than you think!
Focus on Learning and Longevity
A huge reason why employers don’t bother with overqualified applicants is because they assume you are going to get bored of the job and quit, or just use the job to hold you over until you find something better. You can make sure that they look past your qualifications by emphasizing two different things: that you’re looking for an opportunity to learn beyond what you already know, and that you’re looking to stay somewhere for a long time. Sprinkle these ideas throughout your cover letter, your interview, and any required part of the application where you see fit. This will make sure the hiring manager understands that you genuinely want to be at this job regardless of your qualifications.
Express Your Intentions
Now, to get to specifics, when you’re applying for a job you’re overqualified for, share reasons you think this is a job worth your time. The best place to do this is in your cover letter – don’t be afraid to point out that you’re overqualified right off the bat, but immediately explain why you want this job. Maybe you’re looking to start at an entry-level position in a new industry – explain that outright. Your potential employer will love to hear that you’re looking for growth when, if you didn’t mention it, your application may have been trashed because of the mismatch.
You can also state that you’re looking for a brand new challenge, which ties into the above point – the employer will take note of that and realize you won’t get bored if the whole point is you’re looking for something new. You can also discuss how passionate you are about the specific company you’re applying for, so they’ll understand you have such an interest in their team that you’re willing to start from the ground up. This is something you should do at any job you apply for, of course, but it definitely adds extra weight to your application when it seems to make no sense that you’re applying.
Don’t be afraid to get a little crafty with how you describe past jobs. Don’t lie, of course, but you can definitely downplay the seniority at some of your jobs and alter the job descriptions on your resume to be a closer fit. Pick your prior jobs that fit best with the one you’re applying for, cut out the excess, and edit the rest. Let’s say you used to work in social media marketing but are applying to be a retail sales associate – the hiring manager surely would love to know that your communication skills have helped you persuade people into buying products!
Also, if you’re applying for a job where a degree isn’t required and you feel your education history makes you seem overqualified, it’s okay to remove it. Once again, don’t lie and say you don’t have a degree if asked in the following interview, but state that you’re looking to move away from that field or apply the skills you learned in it in a brand new field.
Don’t get discouraged if your qualifications are holding you back. Make your edits, clarify your intentions, and you’ll be sure to find an understanding employer and a job that works for you soon enough. Good luck on your job hunt!
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Emily Morrison is a media professional with passions for writing, film and popular culture.
Feature Image: Adobe Stock