What do you do when they say you’re ‘overqualified’?

By Mary Parker
Posted 10/17/19

After a period of time in the workforce, valuable work experience and transferrable skills are acquired. This is a great accomplishment and something of which you should be very proud. But, if …

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What do you do when they say you’re ‘overqualified’?

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After a period of time in the workforce, valuable work experience and transferrable skills are acquired. This is a great accomplishment and something of which you should be very proud. But, if presented in the wrong way, this can be of hindrance when job searching. We can find ourselves in a situation where we become what hiring staff label as “overqualified.”

I have never been able to clearly define what this term means. But it does exist in the English language and most definitely in the process of new employee recruitment. How can the job seeker be successful when they keep hearing you were “overqualified” for the position? You’ll get bored and soon leave for a better-suited position? Or, we can’t meet your salary requirements?

In these situations, you must first begin by explaining the reason you applied for the position. Emphasize how you can contribute to the business in terms of added value and what you can gain from the position in the form of new skills. Express your desire to learn to create a new path forward for yourself. With the relevant experience you’ll be bringing through the door, you can also save on new employee training, giving you more time to focus on learning the business and how best you can help it advance. This helps the potential employer think more about, what could be, a win-win for both you and them.

The concern potential employers have about salary expectations of an “overqualified” applicant brings me to the next subject. When discussing salary, make sure to let the potential employer know you’re aware of the pay rate for the position and you’re comfortable with that salary. You have to be realistic and accept the fact that sometimes you’ll need to take a step back to move two steps forward. But make sure you’re able to do this before you apply.

If you can demonstrate how a position you’re said to be “overqualified” for will help you develop, be an asset, and provides financial stability, don’t let anyone persuade you differently! Maintain your confidence and let your resiliency guide you to success.

Mary Parker is the Career Center coordinator at Central Carolina Community College and a global Certified Career Development facilitator. She has a master’s in human resources management from North Carolina A&T State University and a post-master’s in college teaching, adult learning and leadership from UNC-Greensboro. Send comments or column ideas to her at mparker@cccc.edu.

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