Let Me Get This Straight: Being Overqualified is a Bad Thing?

Hiring managers and HR professionals can be a lot like Goldilocks. They want candidates with a level of experience that’s “just right.”

Fair or not, in their eyes, a candidate with “too little” experience may require extensive training to get up-to-speed. And a candidate with “too much” experience may become bored with the role quickly (and jump ship), or simply fall outside the position’s salary range.

So, what’s “too much” experience – and how can you avoid appearing overqualified for the job? While every position’s requirements are unique, you can use these tips from PrideStaff to tweak your candidacy and position yourself as the ideal candidate:

On your resume:

  • Take out experience and education that may automatically take you out of contention. Put the focus on those aspects of your work history that align well with the open position’s requirements.
  • If years on the job or employment tenure might work to your disadvantage, switch your resume to a targeted format. This resume type downplays dates of employment, by highlighting your experience and skills as they relate to the available job.

When you apply:

  • Only apply to jobs for which you’re a good match. Make sure you’re not grossly overqualified for the position! An executive applying to an entry-level job only seems desperate – and will likely be passed over.
  • Use your cover letter to detail why you’re the right candidate. Make it clear that you’re not “settling” by pursuing this job. Convey your enthusiasm by explaining how you’ll be challenged by, and grow within, the role.

In the interview:

  • Be prepared to address concerns about pay, lack of challenge, and tenure. A savvy interviewer will hit this issue head-on, so have answers ready for the following:
    • How will you stay motivated? Explain that you can’t be overqualified when it comes to enthusiasm or desire to learn. Share your interest in becoming a mentor within the company.
    • How can we be sure you won’t leave us high-and-dry if a better opportunity comes along? Allay the interviewer’s fears by sharing examples of how you created your own growth opportunities in prior positions which you held for several years.

Looking for a job?

Whether you’re an experienced “veteran” or new to the workforce, PrideStaff can get you to work quickly. When you register with us, we can help you:

  • improve your resume, cover letter and interviewing skills;
  • access opportunities that match your level of experience;
  • earn money while you conduct your own search.

Contact the PrideStaff office in your area to find out more about great local job opportunities.