Overcome the Overqualified Label

Have you been labelled as overqualified?

Recruiters will often think to themselves that an overqualified candidate will cost their company money, because the candidate will quickly move on when a better offer becomes available and that there is more to the story about why that candidate is applying for this role. It can smell suspiciously of desperation and the job-seeker is the one who suffers from these preconceived negative perceptions. But recruiters will rarely share these thoughts with you, the candidate. In fact, job-seekers who offer a high standard of experience and skill, can be very valuable employees. It just takes a little education to ensure the recruiter is aware of this fact.

What to do….? The key is to tackle this perception from the onset. Be proactive, don’t give in too quickly and accept that you will have knock backs. Be positive, and remember, that for every knock back you are one step closer to finding your job.

The first step is to plan your marketing campaign!

Your resume: You may need to tone down or tailor your resume to ensure your marketing document does not portray you as someone who is above and beyond the advertised job requirements. Explain why you are applying for this job, particularly if there is more to your story. Ensure you follow up. Effective follow up can make the difference between gaining an interview or no interview at all. Demonstrate you are passionate, not desperate.

The interview: Any marketing campaign or sales pitch is practiced and refined. You should treat your interview in much the same way. If you want to be convincing you need to develop the art of promoting and advertising yourself, to ensure the recruiter considers you as a potential employee. Counteract their concerns by promoting your high level skill and ability, how you can contribute to the organisation and elaborate (without sounding desperate) on why you are just the right candidate for the job.

Some definite interview tips when you are potentially overqualified:

Balance your Sales Pitch: Talk about how your skills and abilities match perfectly with the role, however, be careful not to overwhelm the recruiter with your prowess. Remember, you are not the one in the box seat right now and overdoing it could spell disaster. No recruiter wants to feel as though they are meeting a know-it-all who can talk, but cannot deliver.

Take Money out of the Equation: Indicate that money is not your motivator. This outlook will do you wonders. You can also turn the tables and indicate that your skill and experience will save the company money.

Demonstrate Reliability and Loyalty: If you have a history of long term roles, you can counteract the perception that you could move on quickly by pointing out your allegiance with previous employers. Of course, if you have a history of short term roles, this point is better left unsaid.

Provide Referees Early: You may be well qualified and highly experienced and may have the opinion that referees can be provided later, but if you are overqualified, you need every bit of backing you can get. Offer referees early so you can demonstrate you have nothing to hide

Remember, stay positive. Recruiters pick up on these vibes, so your outlook is essential to your outcome. However, if you feel this is easier said than done, you could always book into for our career counselling or interview coaching services. We can evaluate your interview performance and provide guidelines on how you can improve your own marketing campaign.


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