Don’t have a college degree?
Haven’t worked in that role yet?
Don’t meet all the job posting requirements?
There are plenty of articles that help you get around that issue.
But what happens when you’re overqualified?
This question has come to me quite a few times recently as I’ve been working with people who are out of work. They have great skills but the market is tight. And each month is another several thousand dollars being sucked out of their bank account with no money coming in.
They have a resume. But it is designed to sell them for their ideal job. To make the case that they’re an awesome choice. To get them a lateral transfer or the next job up in the progression.
But when those jobs don’t show up quickly enough. When it is a buyer’s market – and the employer is in the driver’s seat. Then things get tricky.
How do you land a job that you’re overqualified for?
You need a different strategy. A modified approach to land this type of position.
And your current resume won’t work for that purpose.
So how do you revamp it so it gets traction and doesn’t scare away likely hiring managers?
And then how do you position yourself in the interview so you don’t overshare. So you don’t oversell yourself and have the hiring manager saying, “You’re great. But you could do my job.” As they’re really saying that they’re concerned you won’t be happy the role and then they’ll have to find a replacement after a few months.”
For those situations you need a dumbed-down resume. One that will make you look good enough to get the job interview, but not so good that you blow them away and they cross you off the list because you’re too good.
So how do you do that?
Just as an owner or entrepreneur shouldn’t put “CEO” or “Owner” or “President” on their resume so they don’t scare away potential opportunities for manager roles, they’d put “Manager” or “Director” instead.
In the case of your dumbed-down resume you will scale back your responsibilities and maybe eliminate a few of your accomplishments or reword them to fit the position you’re interviewing for.
Take a position posting for the role you’re looking to land. And then make sure your responsibilities and accomplishments align with that role, not the one above that. Then plan appropriately for a job interview too. Figure out what you want to focus on that align with the role. And identify the questions or areas of discussion that are “third-rail” risk areas that you’ll have to effectively dance around.
This will not be an easy role to get.
It is very hard to undersell yourself and not come off as more knowledgeable that you are in an interview. That is why overqualified people often make it to the interview but get crossed off the list there. They’re so much better than the competition on paper that the hiring manager or recruiter can’t pass you up for an interview. But after they interview you they get cold feet as they realize they won’t be able to pay you what you’re worth or that they’ll only get you a short time before you’re likely to get bored and leave. And now they realize that they will have to do this all over again. So they bail out on you.
Not in that position yet?
How do you avoid getting yourself in this quandary in the first place?
You can’t always choose when you leave a company. Sometimes industry or macro-economic shifts change the landscape dramatically…and layoffs follow. But if you do have a choice, it is good to wait and choose your exist strategy and timing.
Statistics show the average unemployed person are on the unemployment roles for 40 weeks. That means if you’ve been making $50,000 a year you’re giving up $40,000 worth of income. And if you were making $100,000 a year you’re forfeiting $80,000 by being out on the street.
Do you have $40,000 or $80,000 in your bank account ready to blow? If not think twice, three times, four times before quitting your current job without a safety net (new job offer) in place. So your boss drives you crazy. Are you going to let him cost you $40,000 or $80,000?
And to you who think, “Oh, I’m just going get a contractor gig and make the big bucks.” Is another 10 to 20% more in salary as a contractor going to be worth being unemployed for 40 weeks in a tight market when that contract ends and you don’t have another lined up?
Or would you be better off with a safer play as an employee that provides more consistent and reliable income over time?
Yes, you can make more money as a contractor. But that’s only if you have consistent work, you are awesome at what you do, and can market yourself well, and your clients have the budget to pay you. If you don’t have all of those you may want to rethink your exit strategy.