Work & Career: Overqualified?
How to prove you’re the right fish for their pond. Whether you need the job or are ready for more balance in your life, our experts weigh in on a tricky situation.
You have identified the perfect company, the perfect opportunity. You are excited and know that you can do the job and will do it well. This is the one. Previously you were in a senior leadership role within a global organization. You fully recognize that this new opportunity does not represent the full scope of the position that you were in, but you are comfortable with this. Either you recognize that as you meet and exceed expectations, further opportunities will arise or perhaps you feel that at this point in your career you are comfortable with still enjoying challenge and making a contribution. Having slightly less scope but with more work/life balance is attractive.
The interviews with the Recruiter and the initial meeting with the company have gone well. You are anticipating news on next steps and additional meetings. However, you start to have doubts when you haven’t heard back by the original date you were told to expect news. When you follow-up and do finally hear back from the Recruiter you are told that although they were impressed by you, unfortunately they believe that you are overqualified for the position, and you will not have enough challenge in the role. As a result they are moving forward with another candidate who is a stronger fit for the role. This is difficult to hear. And what’s more it is not the first time that you have received this message. You know that you are not a retention risk and are comfortable with the role. It is frustrating.
Here are some marketing tips that can help with this dilemma.
1. Be aware of myths and truths about Zoomer aged employees. This will help to alleviate fears and concerns and ensure that you are positioning your application in the best possible light. As an example, there is often the fear that workers 45+ won’t stay on the job long. The facts? According to labour statistics workers between 45 and 54 stay twice as long in a the job as those 25 to 34. Attendance records are better for older than younger workers. And, Zoomers over 50 are becoming the fastest growing group of internet users, proving they are current and and tech-adept. The costs of hiring a more experienced worker, including vacation time, pensions etc, can be outweighed by the fact that there is less turnover with older workers (and all of the related recruitment and training costs that this represents). You certainly don’t need to rattle off statistics in your meetings, but understanding some of the pre-conceptions and having the ammunition to debunk these myths will help you position your application.
2. Create an impressive resume. You want to get your foot in the door. Ensure that your resume is focused on the job title that you are applying to. As an example, you have worked cross functionally leading both IT and Finance teams. The role you are currently applying to is a Director of Finance role. Ensure that your resume focuses on this aspect of your experience. You will most likely need more than one resume depending on the type of position(s) that you are applying to. Knowing that recruiters may have a misconception about how current you are, ensure that your resume uses current terminology (e.g. Human Resources Manager versus Personnel Manager) and that it showcases that you are up to date with current technology and trends.
4. Drive the process – be as proactive as possible at each possible step. Make sure that you are doing everything possible to emphasize your skills, experience and professionalism. Are you following up after sending out your resume? Are you concentrating on re-working your resume and refining your interviewing skills? Are you spending the appropriate amount of time networking? Do you follow-up after your interview with thank you notes? If you don’t get the opportunity, do you ask for feedback and try to learn from the experience? The more that you take control of the process (without aggressively pursuing or “harassing” recruiters) the more confident you will feel.
5. Anticipate questions and prepare for the interview. Anticipate some of the questions that you will be asked that will help you to alleviate fears about being over qualified and emphasize why you are the right candidate. Questions such as what is important to you in your next opportunity? Why are you interested in this position? Where do you want to be in 3-5 years?
6. Network as much as possible. This is key. Especially at the senior level, many jobs are not advertised. Get involved with professional associations. Perhaps you can consider doing some consulting while you are finding the exact right opportunity. This can lead to an ongoing opportunity within the company you are working with. It can certainly broaden your network and lead to many other possibilities.
7. Remember to take control. The more control you take about the process the better and the more confident you will feel. At the same time be patient and don’t get discouraged. Finding the right opportunity takes time, especially in a tough market, and especially at the senior level. It will happen and embrace this time as an adventure and opportunity. Your enthusiasm and energy will be visible to interviewers.