How to Land The Job You're Overqualified For

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Written by Michele Lando

You have all of the qualifications and many more, but you can’t seem to land the job.

Sound familiar? It’s harder to land a job that you’re overqualified for than you might think.

Employers want to hire an employee who will be a right fit in every sense of the matter. If an employer sees you as overqualified, their concerns might be that the compensation won’t be enough to keep you in the role, or worse, that you’ll be bored in the role and won’t do well.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, the result of poor job fit and employee turnover can cost an organization between 50-60% of the person’s annual salary. Companies have to be extremely strategic when it comes to hiring, so if an interviewer or hiring manager has any inkling that you might not be the best candidate to fill the role, they will likely go with someone else.

TAILOR YOUR RESUME

Customize your resume to meet the exact position you’re interested in. This is important when applying for any job, but when you’re overqualified for a position, it becomes even more crucial.

When you’re trying to customize your resume to meet a job you’re overqualified for, the key is to highlight all of the skills and qualifications that the desired job description holds, and downplay unnecessary information that might deter someone from hiring you.

For example, if you held the title of client relationship manager and did everything from sales to client onboarding, to office management and administrative tasks, but you’re applying for an administrative assistant, you’ll want to highlight the office management and client facing communication, and you’ll most likely want to downplay the sales aspects of your previous role.

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Note: This does not mean that you should “dumb down” your resume. It’s always great to highlight that you’re smart, strong, and capable, however when you’re applying for a job that you’re overqualified for, you need to highlight the requirements of the given job description and show your potential employer why you will be great and satisfied with the role. 

WORK THAT COVER LETTER

You can only customize a resume so much. Your cover letter is where you can explain exactly why you want this specific position, and why you would be amazing at it. When you’re applying for a job that you’re overqualified for, use the cover letter to explain why you want to take on a role that may be beneath you.

This could be any reason from caring deeply about a cause or wanting to work with this specific company, or even something more personal like relocation due to a family member. Whatever your reason is, use your cover letter to explain yourself and show the reader that you truly do want the position even if it might be a lower level position that you’ve held in the past.

CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE

It’s easy to feel like you’re a shoe-in for the role if you have all of the qualifications and more, but try your best to look at it from the perspective of the hiring manager. Take note of the potential downfalls of hiring someone overqualified for the position, and aim to highlight why that won’t be a problem in your documents. Show all of the reasons why it would be beneficial to hire you and show the reader why you really want the job. Employers want to hire candidates who want to be there, and if you can show that through your resume and cover letter, you will have a much better shot at securing the role.

Show all of the reasons why it would be beneficial to hire you and show the reader why you really want the job.

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Landing a job that you’re overqualified for is harder than you might expect, but if you can persuade your potential employer that you really want to take on the job and that you’re excited about it, the process will be much easier. Remember that it is a risk to higher an employee who is overqualified for a position, and show your potential employer why you’re worth that risk!

A native San Franciscan, Michele Lando is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and founder of writestylesonline.com. She has a passion for helping others present the best version of themselves, both on paper and in person, and works to polish individuals' application package and personal style. Aiming to help create a perfect personal branding package, Write Styles presents tips to enhance your resume, style, and boost your confidence.