Do you have too much experience for a job? You used to be an executive, but you would like to become an employee again? For concerned recruiters, your profile is overqualified and that can be an obstacle to hiring.
We often hear that a lack of experience or youth is something that gets in your way when you are out looking for a job. This is true for young people entering the job market, but when looking for a job, having too much experience and being overqualified also pose problems.
First of all, it is important to know what overqualification means. In the eyes of employers it can come from:
- The level of education: you have a master's degree, but you are applying for a job requiring a bachelor's degree or less.
- Professional experience: You have over 10 or 15 years of experience, but the open position requires 5 years of experience.
- Your previous position: You were an executive or a manager, but you are applying for an employee position without managerial responsibilities.
- Salary expectancy level: a highly qualified profile, by experience or age, is necessarily more expensive and makes employers back off.
What do employers think?
Overqualified profiles scare recruiters away, mainly because of the prejudices of having some potential (and even not positive) consequences for the employer.
The company can't afford it When recruiting, the employer knows approximately the salary level they are prepared to accept for the position and the motivation system they have in place. If you are overqualified, the employer could immediately think you are demanding a higher salary than an average candidate and will not bother to hire you. Even if you think this is discriminatory, look at it positively; it also means that the employer thinks you are better than the salary they might offer you. In the long run, you might even demand an increase that the employer may already be anticipating.
The employer doesn't think you'll stay for long The employer may think you will leave the company as soon as you find a better opportunity. Highly qualified candidates are often chased by companies and competitors who will always offer them better options than those they have now. On the other hand, recruitment is expensive for the employer and they are unlikely to want to spend a large amount of money on someone who could leave quickly. And again - don’t take it personally - it’s just business after all.
You'll get bored If your skills exceed those required for the job, the employer may assume that you will get bored and leave the company as soon as you can. Overqualified people usually need challenges and don't just want to spend time or find a job to buy groceries. Even if you don't think this is the case, the employer might do you a favor by rejecting your application and save you both a lot of time.
You will find a thankless job The position may require the performance of certain tasks that are not specifically related to the stated trade itself. Even if you feel versatile, the employer may think you won't want to perform these tasks because you are overqualified. It is important to state in your well-crafted CV that you are an open-minded person capable of performing a variety of tasks.
The employer is not interested in your motives If all the above reasons are not a holdback for you, they may be one for the employer who may not share your views. In many cases, they will not take time to ask you questions and listen to what you may have to say to justify your interest in the position. Don’t get stuck thinking about it too much - as they say, ‘When one door closes, another opens.’
How to reassure the employer?
A recruiter needs to be reassured. If your CV is too impressive for the job, it is your cover letter that has to make the difference.
Don't look desperate. There is nothing dishonorable about reorienting your career to take a junior position that is still within your skillset. You must convince the recruiter that your approach is a thoughtful choice based on a coherent project.
No matter the salary, no matter the responsibilities, you want to refocus on what you like to do most on a daily basis. Insist on passion. For example, you were a project manager in IT, but you are looking for a programmer position because coding is what you love more than anything else.
Build on your strengths. Experience gives you skills such as self-reliance, resistance to stress, and a sense of responsibility, which are highly valued by employers.
Don't hesitate to apply for jobs you like, regardless of the qualifications required, justify your motivation and interest in the job by taking care of your cover letter and explaining it clearly in an interview. Discuss these sticking points with the recruiter - this will be an opportunity to lull the employer's fears and highlight your determination.