What if you’re over qualified for a job?
There are times in a career where we have to consider jobs that we might feel we are over qualified for. Restructuring, the recession, the changing labour market or personal reasons can all play a part as to why we look for some jobs.
If you are doing this now, the first thing to remember is that you are never ‘over qualified’ for a job. You may have higher qualifications and so on, but if the job does require a great deal of photocopying and you don’t say you can handle a photocopier – you are actually showing you’re under qualified!
I have recruited for many many posts in university departments where I had to work through a deluge of applications from candidates with higher degrees and experience. Many of them did not get shortlisted. The reason was not they were over qualified. The interview panel did not concern itself with why someone with a long history in academia or senior management wanted to work in data inputting. That is their career choice. We were concerned with who was best for the job. The candidates that demonstrated that best were the ones short-listed. That’s how it worked.
So how to get that ‘under qualified’ job
- Sell your skills
Employers are open to candidates with wider range of experience, but they can’t make all the connections. You need to do that for them. You will need to emphasise any relevant skills that may be required for the job. I am not a fan of dropping qualifications off your CV. But I do think putting a section like Education at the end of a CV might be better for jobs that don’t ask for the qualifications you have. By demonstrating a sound grasp of the knowledge and skills required to fulfil the role early on in your CV, employers will be more likely to see your suitability.
- Strip the CV down to the best bits
By ‘the best bits’ I mean the parts of your CV that are more related to the job that is being recruited for. Your experience of handling multi-million pound deals may not be what is appropriate for the job you are applying for and so will need minimising. This CV needs to be short and sharp. The CVs I saw from candidates that hadn’t adapted their CV applying, for say a senior research post to that of receptionist didn’t get shortlisted, simply because we couldn’t tick the criteria needed for the job in hand. There may be fantastic things you are proud of on your CV – but it doesn’t mean it’s relevant to the role.
- Explain why the move
If you are downsizing your career you might want to explain why, so you don’t look like you are not serious about the job you are applying for. Often candidates do feel that despite an employer getting some amazing skills, they will still have concerns that you’ll leave as soon as you get something better. If you want to convince an employer that you are taking a downwards or sideways move and you seriously want to do the job – then explain why! Say after ‘x’ number of years of heading up a global company you are looking for a job that is closer to home and allows you to develop your other interests. A couple of lines on a covering letter will be fine.
Just remember you can’t be ‘over qualified’ in a sense – you have to be suitably qualified for any job.