At Amava, we spend our days highlighting opportunities to keep our Members active and socially-engaged. By helping thousands of Members we’ve learned that many are looking for paid work, whether to make some extra money, stay connected or learn new things.
In checking out the options and doing our homework, we’ve noticed some patterns. Many people have applied for jobs they thought they were well-qualified, or even more than qualified for, only to hear back nothing or be told that while their experience looks terrific, it’s more than what the company needs. That can mean any number of things behind the curtain. As Stefanie Harris, Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Coaching at Sirius XM notes, it may mean “I don’t know where to place you, I am worried that you will want more money or why would you want a job at this level?” Whatever the case, when a hiring manager tells you that you’re overqualified for a position, it’s a conversation stopper. Rather than over analyze or argue about it, here are some proactive things you can do to change the next conversation:
1. Target your resume. Pare down things that aren’t relevant to the current position, shorten descriptions and highlight the things you’ve done that are pertinent to the things you want to do. Additionally, Harris points out that “having different versions of your resume and then applying for the right job accordingly is key.”
2. Position yourself with curiosity and humility. If you let them know that you are looking to learn, that could help keep your resume out of the “no thanks” pile.
3. Tell them why you are interested in them. There are plenty of reasons to have a company on your radar. Maybe it’s outstanding culture, maybe you know someone who works there, perhaps it is location or you are switching industries. The more you look like a candidate who wants to commit to them specifically, the less you look like an overpriced, too-experienced candidate who doesn’t fit their current needs.
4. Explain how you can add value and grow with them. You know the ropes, so you can hit the ground running, mentor other employees, lead initiatives and grow your new department to benefit everyone. For Harris, it’s about “knowing what you want at this point in your career.” Tell them about it!
5. Get someone to vouch for you up front. Offer a reference who will share what a team/utility player you are. The more you give them reasons to learn about your personal qualities and abilities, the less you’re just an overqualified candidate for them to weed out.
6. Phone a friend. Have some conversations with your inner circle. You might find out that businesses in your community are looking for someone like you or that there are opportunities you hadn’t thought about.
7. Talk to a recruiter. Not all jobs are listed on the internet. A recruiter can give you tips on how to strengthen your application, but may also have a line in to positions that aren’t widely advertised or have yet to be released. Talking with someone on the phone, or better yet in person, gives you the chance to show your personal qualities. Recruiters want to place you in a job where you’ll contribute and that’s what you want too. However, Harris cautions that “recruiters don’t want to work that hard to figure out where to place you so if they can’t easily figure it out…they pass.” See numbers 1-4 to head the problem off at the pass.
Ms. Harris sums up the “overqualified” issue as follows: “It raises a lot of questions up front, so candidates need to get out in front of it and know how they want to “pitch” themselves. The resume and all other written and verbal communication need to match.” Bring positive energy every time you represent yourself and welcome all advice and opportunities.
Special thanks to Stefanie Harris, Senior Vice President, Human Resources and Coaching at Sirius XM for sharing her time and expertise.