Should You Apply for a Job If You’re Overqualified?

November 1st, 2022

If a job calls for five years’ experience but you have over 10, should you still apply? The GetFive career coaches are regularly asked about applying for jobs when you are overqualified.

The short answer is yes, you should still apply. The more thorough answer is that you should do so thoughtfully and strategically.

There are many reasons people apply for jobs when they’re overqualified. It could be you want to transition from contract work to a permanent position. It could be you want to transition industries. It could be a shorter commute, better benefits, or simply, you’ve been looking for a while and are broadening your search parameters.

No matter the reason, if it feels right you should apply, but be aware that you’ll need to be proactive about addressing any assumptions a hiring manager will make about you. When you have far more experience than necessary, they might think you’ll be bored, leave soon, or want too much pay.

When applying for a job you’re overqualified for, consider these five important guidelines for success:

Be humble: Don’t assume you’re a shoo-in because of your experience. No one wants to hire an arrogant employee, so treat this job as any other you’re applying to.

Be honest: If the interviewer brings up your experience, be honest but do so in a way that reflects on you positively. For example, if you’ve traveled extensively in past jobs and you want to shelve your passport for a while, say you are seeking positions that have low to no travel and this one fits the bill.

Be enthusiastic: Hiring managers want likable people who have the skills to get the job done, but those who appear truly passionate about the opportunity will always stand out. Let your excitement erase any doubt they have about you being overqualified.

Be flexible: Address assumptions as they arise. If it’s noted that you might be bored, talk about your value-add and some problems you’re looking forward to tackling. If pay is a concern, stress you’re willing to work within the given pay range.

Be open: Talk about additional ways you could contribute without devaluing the main job responsibilities. This can help you tailor the job to your skills and shows a can-do attitude. Additionally, provide references who can speak to your character and capabilities.

If you’re overqualified, it’s not a reason to overlook a position with potential. These tips will help you approach the prospect with the professionalism and confidence you need to set any worries aside and stand out as a top applicant.

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