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The LinkUp Blog The Industry's Best-Kept Secret

November 5, 2014 / Stephanie Anderson

The big O: How to overcome the overqualified label

The more experience the better, right? If your employment history and education go above and beyond what is required in a job description, you might think you are a shoo-in for at least an interview. But don’t be surprised if you aren’t getting the quick responses you expected – or any responses at all. You are likely labeled as overqualified, which can mean your resume goes right in the trash.

In last week’s blog we addressed the positives and negatives of hiring overqualified candidates, but what if you are the candidate in question? If you are looking for a job and fear you will be labeled as overqualified, there are a number of different things you can do to present yourself well, ease employer concerns and come out ahead with a new job.

Use the power of your network
References and recommendations are so powerful, especially if they come from someone within the organization where you’d like to be hired. When someone trusted can vouch for you and make the hiring manager understand you would be a smart addition to the team, it speaks volumes and is a direct way to fight the dreaded overqualified label.

Speak wisely and be approachable
Industry jargon and high-level terminology can overwhelm an interviewer. While you want to speak intelligently, you still want to come across as approachable and relatable. Know when to scale back so you don’t scare anyone away. Additionally, always keep your ego in check.

Express willingness to negotiate salary
Employers are concerned that hiring overqualified candidates will cost them too much, and often times they are constrained to strict pay ranges. Direct these concerns head-on. Explain that you understand and will work within certain pay scales.

Demonstrate loyalty
To ease worries that you just need a job until something better comes along, demonstrate that you are a loyal employee with specific examples. Point out longevity with past employers and explain how you want a job for the long-term – a place where you can contribute, learn and grow professionally.

Focus on skills more than job titles
Fancy job titles can be intimidating, which is why many overqualified candidates are dismissed. Rather than emphasizing the title, focus on the skills you have that would make you the best candidate for the job. Use words directly from the job description whenever possible.

Demonstrate new skills and added value
Make sure to address the most recent skills you’ve gained and explain how these are of value to the company. Your new skills, competence and proactive approach to learning are a huge value to an employer, plus it shows you aren’t stuck in old ways of doing things.

Stay positive and enthusiastic
Whether you are overqualified or underqualified, one of the worst things you can do is to come off as having lackluster interest about the job. You must seem enthusiastic about the position otherwise you’ll lose out to someone else who is. Let your passion shine!