In a tight job market like we are experiencing today, mid- and late-career professionals often consider openings that are often a step back or down from their last position. Occassionally, employers are glad to hire seasoned workers at a bargain, but too many others will discount the candidate as too seasoned and will label them, overqualified.
What’s really behind the overqualified label, is an employer’s fear that if you’re hired you’ll be searching for a better job before you payoff on the training time they are willing to invest. If you really want the job, there are ways of changing the employers perception that you’re too good for it.
Dig Deep into the Job Description
Earning more and having had more responsibility in the past doesn’t mean you’re beyond this job. If you meet or exceed every requirement listed, you may consider yourself highly qualified. On the other hand, if you don’t meet all the listed duties; such as using a new technology you’ve never heard of, you may actually be underqualified.
Many job seekers have the mind set that, ‘If I can do the hardest thing on the list, or if I have the most powerful skill that they require, then I certainly can handle everything else in the job description.’ Maybe they can do them, but selling that to a prospective employer is much harder in this ‘Show, Don’t Tell,’ world.
Tweak Your Resume To Better Fit The Job You Are Applying For
You should always update your resume for the particular job you are applying for, and that may mean taking down the tone a few points and bullet pointing the skills needed in the new job. To tweak your resume and cover letter, also research the company culture and include relevant words, phrases, technologies and positive non-work, but cultural ties to the company’s mission statement.
No Fudging on Your Work History
Some HR screeners and ATS protocols are set to go straight to the previous salary earned to limit the high end candidates. If you were in upper management, pulling down six figures, don’t say you were a floor supervisor making $55,000. But, unless you’re filling out an online application which requires your prior salaries earned, then a small omission to get in the door is probably not going to hurt you.
Many experts would rather have you address the salary situation in your cover letter or interview(s), by using a range of income you would consider based upon the average salary for that level of position, or by stating that you assume the company will pay competitive salary for the job.
In your interview especially, try to steer the conversation to the tasks of the job and your history of long-term employment with previous employers and away from money. Try explaining how any prior lateral moves benefited you. That can help to diffuse their fear you’ll be looking for a higher paying job.
You WANT a Job, You Are Not Entitled to One
If you are angry about applying for a job “beneath” your abilities or ticked off, defending your career which started before the interviewer had their first tooth, then you need to rethink your strategy. Bad attitudes will not help and are very easy to read in your speech and mannerisms.
The best way to turn around a negative attitude and impress the interviewer at the same time, is to come prepared with insightful and relevant questions about the job duties and the company. If you can show you are in touch, engaged, interested in the company and understand their needs, you’ll actually get a quick leg up on your competition.
Show with Examples WHY the Job Will Be A Good Fit for You and the Employer
Make your case that even though you have previously been in management, you want to move away from that and get re-engaged in the day-to-day operations. By showing your experience and how it is relevant to the position you are interviewing for, the employer will be much more impressed with you and how you conduct yourself. Try looking at one specific facet of the new position and come in with some ideas and prior strategies that may work.
The Workplace Culture Can Be Your Friend
Remember, the employer is looking for a good fit, and that means cultural and personal fit in addition to hard skills. Do you have any volunteering experience or community organizations that would interest a hiring manager at this company? Any that fit their model or which they back? Emphasize them. Show that you are a team player, don’t just write about it in your cover letter and resume.
References and referrals from people who haven’t seen you in 20 years could give the impression your most productive days are behind you. Keep your network current and relevant to the industry. If possible, have a couple of contacts within the company, possibly from LinkedIn, BeKnown, Facebook or Twitter. The average age of the hiring community is about 28 and technology is everything. Play the game on their board and you’ll continue moving along in the hiring process.
So what about the age issue? Most career coaches and job search professionals admit that age discrimination exists, but in reality, it is not as widespread as many job seekers believe. An updated wardrobe, newer hairstyle, activity based lifestyle or current cultural references can help you against the specter of ageism, or, they can make you look silly. All career coaches agree that the best way to impress a hiring manager is showing how well you understand their problems and by demonstrating how YOU are the solution.