Told you were too overqualified? Use these tactics to win the job.

Too overqualified

So you have been rejected, because you were told you were too over-qualified for the position. There is nothing more frustrating and unfathomable. But before you get your bitter about the decision, you need to understand the reasoning behind the rejection.  The primary (or rather the ONLY) reason employers don’t want to hire you is based on FEAR.

  • The fear that the job is just a ‘stop gap filler’ for you and that as soon as a better opportunity arises, then you will quickly move on without a backward glance.
  • The fear that you will quickly become bored and stale with the position – so you could potentially impact on the morale and culture of the office.
  • The fear that after a few months – you will be demanding a higher salary, or compensation package and they just don’t have the budget for this option.
  • The fear they will be hiring a ‘dud’ because a person with your level of expertise should be able to easily secure a top-notch job and career (so what is WRONG with you?).

If any of their fears turn out right, then you have just cost them a pretty penny or two. Hiring new staff is expensive business. Currently up to 24% of HR resources are committed to recruitment (CEB – 2015) with the average time in the US to hire staff 52 days and in Australia, 68 days (AFR)). Recruitment solutions are also costly with recruitment agency costs 12% to 30% of a starting salary and the average cost per hire $4,285 for larger organisations.

You also need to be aware, that these costs don’t factor in training or loss production, if they are short staffed. So if they take a gamble with you, and you walk out within months, you have turned out to be a very expensive hire.

So your only job is to CONVINCE employers that you are a windfall and a bargain!

That is right, you are an absolute BARGAIN. Yes, you could probably do the job blindfolded. Yes, you are worth more, but you need to position yourself as someone that does not just need a job to pay the bills and who will take anything they can get – but the person who will add so much VALUE to their business/organisation.

To do this effectively – you need to be up-front about why you want a lesser position in your cover letter. Tell them that you understand you might be perceived overqualified and that they might be reluctant to interview you, based on the fact that you might outgrow the role too quickly. However, you have a legitimate reason for downsizing, such as work/life balance (and no needing a job, is not a good reason).

So often in life we want to step back for a while – be it for family, a break away from a 60-hour working week – this is a great reason to downsize.

A smart organisation will be excited about you, if they understand the value you are offering. They will be sufficiently astute to make good use of your skills and create something better for you – after all top talent can be difficult to secure, even in tough times. But you need to dispel some of their fears up-front in the covering letter and during the interview. This includes:

  • At the interview, highlight all the benefits you bring, including the money you will save them by using your vast experience.
  • Make sure they understand that you are very enthusiastic about working for them, and not worried about the pay or responsibilities, as your focus is not on remuneration.
  • You could even consider offering to sign a fixed term contract, showing them that you are serious about not leaving.

Remember – it is all about alleviating their FEARS and talking to the audience in a way that convinces them that you are absolute GOLD for their company.

The alternative to this – is downplaying what you offer. The benefits of this tactic, is you don’t need to worry about alleviating employers fears as you sit in a nice comfortable square box for recruiters and HR. To do this:

  • Rewrite your resume / CV profile, so it simply reflects the requirements of the position.
  • Downplay the job titles. For example: instead of Senior Executive, just put Manager.
  • Be very selective about what goes into your job descriptions, so your work history does not reflect your very senior experience.

Now the risk with this tactic is you could be found-out, or you downplay to such an extent that your application could get overlooked.

My suggestion.  -Experiment between the 2 alternatives and see what works for you.

As for this author, I think a company that is afraid to hire people more skilled than it’s accustomed to –especially if that person is an absolute bargain, is simply proof that recruitment has gone mad. There are no absolutes in this world, even of they hire someone with fewer qualifications and they could be passing over a major resource that they could capitalise on, even if it is for only for a few months.

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