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Tackling the Issue of Over-Qualification

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As far as career issues go, being over-qualified for a position may seem like it hardly qualifies as a problem. But when you are applying for a lower level position that you highly desire, a hiring manager can raise a host of objections designed to derail your efforts at landing the job.

There are ways to neutralize these roadblocks. First and foremost, you should not think of being overqualified as a stigma. If your attitude is that it could hinder you, interviewers may be able to perceive this. Instead, consider these strategies for dealing with the reality of being over-qualified and doing what you can to overcome any objections.

Start With Your Resume

Everything begins with your resume and there are ways to deemphasize being overqualified on paper. “Over-qualified individuals need to go the extra mile to customize their resumes,” says career consultant Andrew Fiallo. First, focus on a few of your skills that will help the prospective employer. “Ferret out your more advanced skills that are not directly relevant to the position you’re seeking,” says Fiallo. Consider submitting a functional resume where relevant skills are emphasized at the top and imposing titles are pushed to the bottom.

Acing The Interview

Your best shot at defusing objections is in a face-to-face interview setting. If you understate your qualifications and focus on your willingness to do the job, most hiring managers will give you serious consideration. Directly address the issue of whether the lower-level position will satisfy you. “Portray yourself as someone who is not concerned with how others will perceive you and emphasize that you feel any position is of value,” says Fiallo. Most people agree that the worst thing you can do is to ignore the issue. “Always confront it and turn a potential negative into a definite positive,” Fiallo advises. “If a prospective employer asks about your exceptional qualifications, tell them they will be getting someone with unlimited potential to learn and move up.”

Salary Issues

There’s no skirting around the issue of salary expectations. In the beginning stages of the hiring process, it’s a good idea to indicate you're flexible on salary. Keep informed about appropriate salary ranges for the position you seek and convince the employer that you are willing to accept this level. Although you shouldn’t volunteer your past salary history, a hiring manager may already be aware of it. To ease fears, indicate that money is not your top priority.

Emphasizing Your Commitment

One red flag that a potential employer sees when you are over-qualified is that if they hire you, you won’t stick around for long. Your best bet is to confront this worry head-on. Make it clear that you are committed to staying a sufficient amount of time that will allow you and your prospective employer to learn about each other. Articulate how a handful of your skills will help the specific employer and that you think of it as a challenge to learn a new industry. Let the prospective employer that you are not just looking for a job, but for a career.

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