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Monday, July 30, 2012

No Job! You are overqualified.

We are all pushing for a time when we will have amassed great achievements and work experience as a way of catapulting us to the highest levels in line with our career aspirations. But as we push our way up the ladder, there seems to be a new trend where the higher we climb, the harder it gets to get certain jobs. For the majority of persons who have held senior positions in their careers, making changes to lower positions seems a daunting task.

Take the case of Peterson. He has worked as a HR practitioner over the last 16 years. Due to changes in his social commitments, he has reconsidered taking up high-end positions and has now been in the job search process for less involving jobs. He has been seeking for jobs with less managerial responsibilities and one that accords him more time with himself and family. This seems like a trend in the market. Many people like Peterson, are realizing the need for healthy work life balance and hence the current readjustments.

However, it has not been rosy for him. Over the last 6 months, he has been attempting in vain to convince potential employers that he would be the right person for the jobs available. As if being read from the same script, all interviewers have let him know that they are afraid he is over qualified for the job and this makes him wonder whether it is a crime to be over qualified.

As you prepare for the job search, realize that employers will have reservations against employing persons they consider over qualified. They are unsure of your staying within the company since the feeling is that you will move on should you get a job at your level. The burden is hence on you to convince them otherwise. The other concern the potential employer would have relates to how well you would work as a member of the team with your high qualifications. All these are valid concerns that you should be ready to respond to, either directly or otherwise.

Potential employers will always be concerned about the salary question. It could appear to the panel that the company may not be able to match your current or past salary due to budget constraints. The subsequent feeling is that you may not be as motivated by the salary on offer.
Just how should an individual respond to this challenge in job search? It starts with the realization and admission that you are over qualified. In most cases, potential employers weed out overqualified applicants at the short listing stage since they realize they are not the appropriate candidates for the interview. Should you however be invited for the interview, it could be an indicator of some level of interest and that interest could just be the panel wanting to know why you would be interested in a lower level job despite your high qualifications. The ball is hence in your court to determine how to score.

You should not wait until potential employers inform you that you are over qualified. By the time you are responding to a given job advert, you should have evaluated your suitability for the position and if you regard yourself as overqualified, you should develop an appropriate response to the concern even before the interviewers raise. You should be seen to have considered the issues and developed a way of working with the team with your high-end qualifications.

On the salary question, you should have developed a way of responding in line with the motivating factors beyond the salary. It could be that you are up the scale on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and are now seeking for higher level needs beyond the salary.

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