The coin has two sides. When you enter into an industry, you receive suggestions from your seniors that you need to do something extraordinary that no-one has done in your group, so that you can stand out in the crowd. So you do and get ahead of the crowd.
A few years later, you are in the middle management, following the same advice of your then seniors and making a ruckus and feeling great.
Everything seems to be great and suddenly you receive a letter from the top management that even your expertise is an asset to the company, you’re no more required for the job, so it’s your last day in the office.
You don’t know what to do. You come home grumpy; trying to sort out what went wrong and finding ways about how to make things tick. Then you cry yourself to sleep.
Next day you apply for positions far lesser than your credibility thinking that jobs at your level are few and it’s difficult to get that job which suits your qualification and caliber.
Companies call you. Interviews happen. And at the end of every interview, they label you as overqualified and place you in “too desperate” category.
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With few exceptions in few places, this is the story of most overqualified people in the industry. Are you overqualified? Do you think a term called overqualified exists?
If you’re frustrated, irritated and angry for whatever happens to you, sit back, relax and just take charge of reading this article. It will give you solace and practical ways to deal with this situation and help you take back your power which was yours all along.
But before that let’s look at what overqualified really means? In a precise way what recruiters mean when they call you overqualified.
What to do if you’re Overqualified for the Job You Want
You’ve more qualification than the job requires
You may think that this is obvious, but it’s not. When the recruiters see you applying for the similar position as people with far less qualification apply for, they view you as “desperate”. You’re not overqualified here; you’re more qualified than the norm. So, naturally, you hear words like overqualified, “you don’t fit in”, and “you need to apply elsewhere”. There’re two reasons for which recruiters say these words –
- First, they believe that if you join in you would finish your work within few hours and soon enough you would feel bored in the job and leave. That will affect the company and its ROI (return on investment).
- Second, they feel insecure that if you join in, you may soon take their place and they would be out of the company. This reason is rare. The recruiters who are professionals should not allow any biases or insecurities to cloud their decision-making abilities, but we all are human first.
You’ve more years of experience than we need
Nowadays companies need people who are good enough to stick to the job. If you’re smarter than the crowd you can leave behind the company and start on your own. But if all the employees are smarter than the employers, do you think the equation will work? We’re not talking about all the companies, but companies which belief having more experience is a setback rather than an achievement are the ones who seek not-so-smart-people.
You’re earning more than we can pay
If your last job paid you well, even well beyond the industry standards, then you may hear recruiters call you overqualified. No companies like to disclose that they don’t have the ability to hire someone as good as you. So, what they do instead – they call you overqualified and you believe it to be true.
But there are things you need to pay heed to as well. Understanding why recruiters call you overqualified is not enough. You need to know what you do wrong while allowing yourself to be called overqualified.
The reason you’re applying for a job far lesser than your caliber is that you believe that you can’t get a job that matches your skill-sets and gives you an opportunity to enhance your professional life. So, what do you do? You stand in the line with your juniors and then come out of the interview room, frustrated and angry.
You sell yourself short
We understand that you need to pay your bills and take care of your family. And now if you’re in the middle of unemployment we empathize with how you feel. But selling yourself short will not help you. It’s like a small box you’re trying to fit into. You know in your heart that you need a bigger box because you’re bigger than others who’re standing in line with you. Still, you’ll squeeze your hands, legs, body to fit in. Result? Anger, frustration, more anxiety, and humiliation!
You don’t believe in yourself
When it’s important to believe in yourself most? You will answer – Always! But during the tough time when everyone around you is speaking ill of you or saying that “you won’t make it” is the time when you need to hold yourself high and believe in yourself. There’s a phrase which says – Believe in you when no-one does. When you don’t believe in yourself that you can make it, you fall for jobs that are not for you. All you need to show a little bit patience and hone your already existing skills. Then you’re done.
You try to get away from the insecurity
Losing a job is pathetic, especially when you have a family to feed and bills to pay. So, when you lose your job (in your mid-career) you get mad at that feeling and go for any job you can find. But that’s not how you should think. You need to separate yourself from what happened to you and see for yourself that whether it happened because of you or not. In most of the cases, it’s being seen that you’re not responsible for what happened. But now you can take responsibility to get back up and be a little more than you were before. So, don’t run away from that feeling of insecurity. Embrace it and take action. You deserve far more than you believe at this moment. Hang on there. Better opportunities are coming your way. Be ready.
In the previous sections, we saw what recruiters mean by calling you overqualified and what you actually do while looking for jobs.
Now, we will offer you a how-to-guide to handle this challenge and take back your power. Yes, it’s possible. You need to keep yourself high and be positive about the process. It’s a process of growth. So trust yourself and be courageous.
A how-to guide to deal with the label overqualified
If you expect a “how-to-guide” on how to deal with over-qualification, it’s not that. We will approach it holistically, not partially. The problem is not in being called over-qualified; rather the problem is the lack of self-sufficiency and losing trust in you. We will talk about over-qualification but first few things need to be mentioned. Read on; you will get why we focus on the holistic approach.
Sit back for few days, relax.
Most people would not give this advice. When you lose your job, they will say – Run, run, run, you need to find another one. But once you’ve gone through a setback you need time to rejuvenate, you need some time with yourself for quiet reflection, to tweak few things in your mind and to talk to yourself about how you feel. If you give yourself this time, you will be healed and will be able to accept the mishap and be ready to take charge again. So, don’t skip it.
What most people suffer from is a sense of losing everything once they lose their jobs. But even when you lose your job, you don’t lose everything. You have a family who support you, your skill sets, your qualification, your years of experience, you, as your greatest supporter and more. Just count everything in.
If you read some of the blogs, you would see that they would ask you to get a reference, compromise and fit in. You’re being laid off which has nothing to do with you and now you’re in a desperate situation. See if you do something that doesn’t make you happy, can you do it for a long time? The answer is no. You may be facing some temporary setback, but things will get better. Never compromise on your professional life. Prepare yourself for the right opportunity and keep searching. You will get one.
Look for all the opportunities
First, make a list of all the skills you have. Then make a list of all the people you know. Then make another list of all the things you can do with the skills and people you have on your side. Then start with the thing that has a maximum chance of success (as of now). If you were a marketing manager in your previous company, see whether you can start a marketing consulting company or not. You don’t need to start something big. Just call few people you know or few customers you served before and let them know that you’re in business. All you need to have to start a consulting company is a desk, a chair, a laptop, a phone and a bunch of contacts. You’re done. If you still feel you want to go back to a job, look for opportunities outside your industry. As you’re out of the job now, that means probably the industry you were in may not be doing that well. Look for jobs in the different industry.
Even after doing all of the above, you may find that the recruiters who’re there to interview you for the job you want may call you overqualified. What to do then? Ask them few questions. Politely tell them, you’ve some questions –
- Ask them what make them think that you’re overqualified when you know in your heart that the job you applied for perfectly suits your skills and qualifications?
- Tell them that you’re not bothered about the salary till the time you’re given room to grow and learn (Check beforehand the range of salary. You shouldn’t want to go for a job which pays you less than you deserve)
- Convince the recruiters that you’re there for a long time and you don’t believe that leaving a job can solve the problems. That means you need to make them believe that you’re not a job-hopper.
- Make them understand that hiring you has more benefits to them than you’ve joined them. They can use your expertise, experience, qualification, knowledge, skill set and in lieu of that only thing you’re asking for is learning opportunity. It’s not a bad deal.
- Don’t sound desperate while convincing them. You need to believe in yourself and make sure that your behaviors reflect your beliefs.
You’re not overqualified for anything.
It’s a stigma, nothing else. There’s no question of dealing with the term over-qualification because you don’t need to stick to one job that you want. There are thousands of more jobs and millions of other opportunities. You don’t need to stick to one. If the recruiters get that you’re so desperate in getting this job, s/he has the power to exploit you and make you run for whatever they offer you. After having so much of knowledge, experience, and skills, do you want to sell yourself so short? The decision is yours.
The entire article doesn’t revolve around what you should do when you’re called overqualified for a job you want, rather it’s an account of how to set yourself apart from the crowd and take back your power when the recruiters call you overqualified. If you read this article and understand and apply you will see that you’re in a far better position than before. You don’t need to get stuck in a particular job, you have opportunities.
There’s an important concept called “opportunity cost”. Only companies don’t have “opportunity cost”, you have it too. If a company calls you overqualified and even after negotiating they call you the same, move on. You have a better opportunity ahead. There’s no need to be desperate about jobs. The more desperate you become, the less valuable you’re. See your value even after being thrown off from a job. You may not have the job. You still have everything minus the job. So why worry? Use the above tips and tricks to understand yourself, understand the recruiters and aim for a great professional life ahead.
Remember – “You’re not overqualified for anything; you’re here to stand out, make your mark and make a difference.” Hang on. You’re precious.