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How To Overcome Being Overqualified

How To Overcome Being Overqualified

John Rossheim, Monster Senior Contributing Writer

You were laid off from your executive job by a company that’s now six feet under. You’ve sent out 800 resumes, done one interview, received zero offers. You find yourself looking lower and lower on the totem pole and occasionally eyeing openings for line managers at the competitor that killed your former employer. If you must apply for a position for which you’re clearly overqualified, how do you actually land the job?

Withhold Your Resume

Here’s what not to do: Fire off a volley of resumes to human resources departments. “Sending a resume is simply a way to oblivion,” says Jeffrey Fox, author of Don’t Send a Resume. HR departments must quickly eliminate nearly all of the hundreds of resumes submitted for a single opening. At the first whiff of your extra qualifications, most screeners will stamp “no” on your application. “Resumes are read to be rejected,” Fox says.

What’s the workaround for overqualified candidates? Go directly to the hiring manager to pitch your ability to excel in the open position. You can either call or write, but hold back your resume in the first round of communication with the employer.

Sell to the Employer’s Need

Once you’ve found out as much as you can about the company and the position, you’ve got to imagine how your qualifications mesh perfectly with the job requirements. “If you’re overqualified, you need to articulate how a handful of your skills will help that specific employer,” says Nick Corcodilos, author of Ask the Headhunter. At least at first, say nothing about higher-level skills that don’t pertain to the position at hand.

Use Emphasis to Shape Employer Perceptions

Sooner or later, you’ll probably have to send a resume. More than you ever have before, you’ll need to customize your one-page presentation of yourself. To de-emphasize those over-the-top elements of your professional background, “you can make some information more sparse, but you’ve got to be careful about misrepresenting yourself,” says Corcodilos.

How do you tread this fine line? One solution is to create a functional resume where relevant skills are pumped up in detail toward the top of the resume, while overly impressive titles are demoted to the bottom and given little ink. Strategic emphasis is integral to persuasion; omission of recent, important rungs in your career ladder is unethical deception.

Next Page: Make a Virtue of Your Extra Qualifications →


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