5 things to consider when applying to a job you’re overqualified for

Don’t let your experience count you out

3 min read

October 2021

Pair of hands holding resume with pen pointing towards paper

Applying for jobs while being notably overqualified can often seem like a hurdle. Employers can be hesitant to hire someone they think may ask for more money. Or they may be concerned about your motivation and how that impacts your desire to stick with the job down the road. Here are five things you can do to influence an employer’s decision to hire you.

Leverage your cover letter

Think of a cover letter as the first impression you’ll make, letting the company know who you are, why you want to work for them, and what skills you can bring along. It’s the perfect place to address what may initially be perceived as a job level or skills misalignment and show that not only are you prepared to take on the role, but that you know it’s the right level for your skills and where you want to be in your career. Being open and transparent in the cover letter helps hit on those questions upfront for recruiters and hiring managers and keeps them reading.

Tweak your resume

Your resume should reflect the information you outlined in the cover letter. Along with speaking directly to the role you are applying to, it should showcase the background and skills you bring. Use the job description as a guide to identify top requirements and key duties, then match those with the skills in your background. After years of reviewing resumes with hiring managers, I’ve found that the strongest resumes are the ones that don’t just tell me what the candidate knows, but instead show what the person has done and how they’ve made an impact.

Be ready to talk compensation

Preparing ahead for a salary conversation will help dispel concerns recruiters may have about your ability to take the position. If the salary range isn’t listed on the job posting, research the market average so that you can determine if it’s a salary change you can make before even discussing with the recruiter. By showing you’ve considered the difference in pay, you won’t be caught off guard during an interview, and you’ll be demonstrating your passion for the role.

Keep networking

Networking is nothing new in the job search game, but it’s still one of the best ways to get noticed for a competitive job. Recently, an overqualified, tenured candidate applied to a competitive role. At first glance, it seemed like a terrible job fit based on her level in her previous role. However, she had already networked with a current Progressive team member before applying, so I had insight I wouldn’t have gotten in my first glance of her resume. She was laid off from a management role which gave her the opportunity to take the step back she wanted into an individual contributor role within the creative process she truly missed. The proactive networking helped her ability to tell the story I couldn’t see strictly from reading her resume.

Show your work

Taking the extra step to show the homework you did on the company before applying tells them you see the important commonalities between your values and the company’s values. If you can envision yourself as a fit within their culture and are genuinely excited about working alongside them to further their goals, you will have no problem conveying that to your potential employer. This will help combat concerns that you won’t stick it out in a role that may be a lower level for you. Keep in mind companies are not only screening you for a fit within the role, but also as a motivational fit for the company.

If you put a game plan together prior to your application, you will have a better chance of telling the story behind your career change and showing employers you are most qualified and the best fit for the opening.

Jodi Januszewski is a Senior Talent Advisor at Progressive Insurance. With over a decade of recruiting and talent matchmaking experience, she is passionate about connecting the right people to the right jobs.

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