Overqualified Candidate

How to prove being ‘overqualified’ could mean you’re perfect for the job

Times are tough and every day a major company is announcing redundancies. For many, you may feel that your career expectations have been dashed on the COVID rocks but perhaps is time to pause the career trajectory and just keep afloat. Lots of employers are wary of hiring more experienced or highly qualified people if the job doesn’t require it. If you can understand their reluctance and demonstrate the positives of your skills you may well get that job that keeps you going through the pandemic.

Be humble and keep your ego in check

Don’t be embarrassed about the job you’re applying for. The most admirable thing is that you are leaving your ego at home and doing what you can to support yourself. Be positive about the role. Remember that your future colleagues may well be doing it all their lives and they don’t want someone coming in and making them feel bad about it. A job is a job and don’t think it’s beneath you if you don’t have a choice. Try not to talk about the future too much if you’re hoping to return to a more familiar role after the pandemic. You need to show a level of commitment because your PhD means nothing here and the hardworking experienced admin assistant will get the job if they think you’ll be out of the door as soon as we’re back to normal. Don’t let being over-qualified let you come across as arrogant.

Interview for the job available

First and foremost hirers are concerned about disruption. You may have 25 years management experience but a 25-year old supervisor will be your boss. If you’re applying for a shelf-stacking role and talk at length of your experience reshaping your department or integrating teams, it will ring alarm bells. The company you are applying to, has a structure and their team has been successful before you came along. Prove you can be a damn good shelf stacker and that you don’t have expectations of instant promotion. Being overqualified for a management role doesn’t mean you have the best experience in a more manual role.

Understand the role available

When you interview for a job you’re overqualified for, your interviewer is likely to have some assumptions about you as a person and you as a suitable employee. They may assume that you’ll get bored easily, that you won’t stay with the company very long, that you may challenge management or won’t be a good cultural fit with your colleagues. Go to the interview prepared to challenge these assumptions. Be honest about your situation but show real commitment to the role. Think about why your personality is well suited to the role. Do you pay attention to detail? Are you good with people so suitable for a customer-facing role? Show you really care about the role and being over-qualified shouldn’t hold you back.

Finally don’t get despondent. Remember the hirers point of view and that you’re not the only person out there that’s hit trouble. Don’t let the economic climate damage your self-worth. You’ll get back to doing what you love but it may take a while.

Check out our available roles here.