Me, overqualified? How to show you’re not by a long shot

Have you been on the full-time work hamster wheel and want to get off?


Most job seekers give the impression that they want to speed up their lifestyle. They use well-worn phrases like ‘energetic go-getter’, ‘highly motivated’ and ‘incredibly hard-working’ to describe themselves when trying to land a new position.

This is all well and good if what you’re looking for is a full-time job that requires you to ‘jump in feet first’, ‘hit the ground running’ and ‘thrive in a fast-paced, hectic work environment’ (more well-worn phrases there).

But what is you’ve been there and done that, and are now ready to slow things down? Not to a grinding halt, of course, but get a less demanding job that you just might enjoy a bit more and that fits into the life you want to have now.

How to do this?

First, figure out why you’re looking to make this move.

Do you want:

  • increased flexibility?
  • reduced hours?
  • no travel?
  • no personnel responsibility? (note: that’s personnel, not personal)
  • to use a different skill set than what you’ve been using?

Second, write so the reader will understand your reasons for wanting to downsize into a job that is less, not more, of what you need.

Why is this so important? Because employers will want to know why someone with your experience is applying for jobs that seem beneath you when compared with what you’ve been doing over the span of your career.

If you don’t take the trouble to explain this to them, they’ll probably look at you as being overqualified for the job they’re trying to fill and send your stuff – CV and cover letter – straight to the reject pile.

Don’t let them count you out because of the assumptions they’ll make about your salary and qualifications without even getting to know you.

Instead, tell them about your hopes and explain why you are making this career move. Use a phrase like ‘looking for work/life balance’ or something similar and write why you want a job that will help you find this balance.

Write that the posted salary for a job ‘matches’ your current goals, as you’re no longer looking to push upwards on the salary scale.

Use different spaces to write this information: the space under your name on an application or your CV, in a cover letter, on your LinkedIn profile. Do this consistently.

Finally, follow up by telling people in your network this same information, asking them to pass it along should your name come up in conversation with someone else about a job which might be suitable for you.

Doing these things will improve your chances of getting the type of work you want.

After all, you’ve been in the full-time employment game awhile now. And after having played your heart out during the first half, you deserve the chance to rewrite the rules a bit about how you want to play the second – don’t you?

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