Today’s job market is unique. Great IT talent is in demand, and more opportunities than ever are available for the right candidates. However, when enthusiastic, talented professionals head into job interviews looking for their next IT career opportunities and are met with an “overqualified” objection, it can be frustrating.
There are a few different scenarios that may prompt you to apply for a job that is technically beneath your skill or experience level. Still, some employers can be scared off initially by resumes and candidates that appear too qualified. Here are some steps you can take to avoid the label and land your dream IT job:
1. Tackle the objection head on. One of the best ways to avoid an “overqualified” label and make your way through the hiring process is to address the elephant in the room from the get-go. Maybe you want to get your foot in the door with an incredible company, and while you’re technically more than a bit qualified, you’re willing to work your way up for an opportunity with such a great company. Or maybe you’re looking to change industries and apply your experience in a new realm. A few lines in your cover letter explaining, “At first glance I might seem a bit overqualified, but here’s why I’m a great fit for your company,” can dispel any fears and also help you stand out.
2. Change up your resume. You may have pages of impressive accomplishments and skill sets, but to avoid that overqualified label and get through the initial screening, you’re going to need to change your resume. First, tighten up your resume to only list your experience and accomplishments that relate directly to the new role. Look at the job posting line by line and identify your experience that matches up with those areas. Keep it clear and concise. Tell your story but build enough interest to get the interview.
3. Be prepared to demonstrate loyalty. One of the biggest concerns employers have when it comes to overqualified talent is that they’re going to jump ship as soon as something else comes along. While what you say in an interview can help a bit, most employers aren’t going to feel secure unless you can really demonstrate your ability to be loyal. No one wants to hire an employee that will get bored or be unchallenged to the point they’ll move on quickly. One tool that can help is your choice of professional references. Choose references that can attest to your commitment to employers and your willingness to go above and beyond. Give examples where you went above and beyond at previous employers – maybe you worked extra, coming in after hours or working on it from home. Also, choose someone who has witnessed your stable, long history with an employer. Show that you’re a leader inside and outside the office, and someone who is committed to your employer. It can definitely dispel some of their fears.
4. Partner with a staffing firm. This one may seem obvious considering my role. But working with a staffing firm means that the “overqualified” objection can often be circumvented before you’ve even met with an employer. When you have a recruiter watching your back, explaining your background and motivations to an employer, any fears are often old news by the time you go in for an interview. Finding new IT career opportunities can be stressful enough on its own. Taking away the worry about over qualification can be a big help with a recruiter!
About the author
Christy Cifreo serves as Sr. IT Recruiter for Synergis. She has 15+ years of recruiting experience, focusing on IT positions. Prior to Synergis, she began her career in the staffing industry at a small boutique firm specializing in CRM and ERP recruiting. She also spent time at GE Energy as a recruiting and vendor coordinator. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology from Jacksonville State University. In her free time, Christy enjoys spending time with family, wake surfing and playing tennis.