Saturday, September 5, 2009

Dear CR: I Keep Hearing I'm Over Qualified

DEAR CAPTAIN RECRUITER,

On job interviews, I keep hearing I'm over qualified. What do I do? I've got over 20 years of work experience and can do many things. All I need is a little time to prove myself.

Sincerely,

TOO MUCH EXPERIENCE

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DEAR TME,

Maybe you are over qualified, other job seekers will work cheaper than you, or maybe you're trying to switch careers and your experience is less transferable than you think. Let's take a quick look at each of these things...

  • Being over qualified. If you're applying for a position that requires entry level skills and the title of your last position was VP Of Some Department, of course you're over qualified. I see this all the time when I'm hiring for an individual contributor role. Maybe you were laid off and need a job, or maybe you're looking for an easier position than your last one. Just be honest with yourself.

    If you're truly over qualified, the easiest way to get the job is to be honest. Something like this... "The reason I'm applying for this position is that I tried management and it wasn't for me. I'm a plodder, and it took me a while to realize that." I've found most people find honesty refreshing.

  • Think you're too expensive? Ask yourself if an entry level person can do your job with just a little training. If the answer is yes, you likely won't make much more than a fresh recruit. If you're a seasoned professional like a consultant or executive, ask yourself if your experience is needed by anyone you know. People who know you are more likely to pay your a premium for your services because they know what they're getting. If not, either prepare yourself to take a salary hit while you prove yourself to a new employer, or brush up on your negotiating skills.

  • Switching fields? You're going to need training like any other new employee. You will probably also require some untraining. Experienced job seekers (myself included) often find that they are less motivated to learn all over again. I'm 34 years old and have less of a tolerance for shenanigans than I did at 21. My experience labels me as a recruiter, and getting a non-recruiter job is just harder than finding work in the staffing field.


Just remember, looking for work is, well, work. Recent college graduates are feeling the pressure of being under qualified. The simple truth is that there will always be a lack of good jobs, and if you find one I recommend you feel blessed and not take it for granted.

CAPTAIN RECRUITER

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