Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Overqualified?

The link reached by clicking this post's title gives great strategies for overcoming the perception that you are "overqualified" for a lower-level or similar-level job within your current industry.

Some of these tips are also useful if you want to transition to the non-profit field from the for-profit field, or switch industries. In these instances, it is easier to make the case for you starting at a lower level regardless of your past experience and skills.

In my experience as a CEO and manager, attitude is the biggest red flag when an employer is considering a highly experienced candidate. Will that person be happy in a job reporting to someone less experienced? Will that person stay in the job for more than six months? Or are we simply a stepping stone for their next job? You'll stand a better chance of being considered and hired if you can honestly commit to staying one to two years, and convince the hiring person/people of your humility and sincerity.

Be honest with yourself FIRST, though. Don't tell people what they want to hear and then renege on your promise. That's out of integrity, and poison if you are trying to enter a new field or industry. Word can spread that you are unreliable, and instead of being a stepping stone, this first position could be your last. Only commit to what you know you'll deliver.

4 comments:

Kirk Petersen said...

I devised what I humbly believe is the best possible response to the suggestion that I'm overqualified: "If it helps, I'll sign a contract agreeing to work below my full capabilities."

I'm quite serious about being prepared to use this response, it has no downside that I can see. Obviously it needs to be said with a wink rather than a snarl. But if the interviewer suggests that you're overqualified, you probably are.

Because such a contract provision would clearly be absurd, the interviewer will understand that you would not ACTUALLY suppress part of your talent. If there is ANY hope of convincing him or her that you really, really want THIS job, having a sense of humor about yourself is a good start. And if you've already decided you DON'T want the job, then you share a chuckle with the interviewer and move on.

simonbeaner said...

What a great response, Kirk! Thanks for adding humor to the equation - it does help when you can be yourself, lighten the situation, and perhaps persuade the person that you'd fit into their culture (unless they don't like jokes...).

Kirk Petersen said...

If they don't like jokes, then I wouldn't fit into their culture, and I'd just as soon know that before taking a job.

simonbeaner said...

a VERY good point!