“You’re Overqualified” – Turning Your Qualifications into Advantages

“You’re Overqualified” – Turning Your Qualifications into Advantages

Experienced job seekers are sometimes frustrated to be told they are overqualified for a position. In part one of our series on this issue, we learned there are often hidden concerns behind the label “overqualified”. Part two focused on how to address these concerns. Today, going beyond addressing concerns, to really turning your qualifications into selling points.

The reasons why it would be wise to hire a highly qualified applicant seem obvious:

  • Rapid ramp up
  • Able to do job fully right away
  • Ability to take on more than job requires

You should certainly bring this out in your materials and interviews. You may say things like “I am very confident I could jump right in and master this job quickly”. That sounds very positive, without creating the impression the job would be TOO easy and leave you bored.

In addition to the obvious merits, there are many subtle reasons why a highly qualified candidate is a good choice:

  • Teacher and mentor to others
  • Potential to create efficiencies and process improvements
  • Expertise from past jobs to share
  • Mature worker may bring increased stability
  • New point of view in work group
  • Variety in experience and background
  • History of problem solving, getting through tough times
  • Resiliency, experienced in dealing with challenges
  • Self-started, motivated, used to working without close supervision
  • Leadership skills and experience
  • More connections and contacts

Craft a number of success stories from your past that bring out the positive qualities of a full qualified worker. Plan to weave these stories in as you answer questions in the interview. Do this proactively. Do not wait for the issue of being overqualified to come up. By proactively bringing out your advantages, you may avoid the overqualified label.

Look for ways to bring out these qualities that are humble and non-intimidating. You don’t want the interviewer to feel threatened by your background and abilities. Emphasize your ability to do great work from within the parameters of the position. For example, if you’ve been a manager who is now applying for an individual contributor position you may say something like “I’ve had success working as part of a team to create efficiencies and improve the quality of the output.” Then share a concrete example with quantifiable results. Even if you were in fact the leader in this instance, stress your role as part of the team, downplaying your managerial experience and playing up the team aspect.

Going into a job fully qualified can create great value for the hiring manager and the organization. Plan to bring out that value in all your materials and in interviews so the label “overqualified” is not even an issue.

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