Absolutely Abby: Success for the Seasoned Search -The Benefit of Being Overqualified

Absolutely Abby in Rochester NY

Absolutely Abby in Rochester NY

Hearing that you are overqualified during the job search is like the kiss of death until you hear what Absolutely Abby has to say about that phrase. Abby has a way of turning being overqualified into absolutely qualified.

Last Thursday, Abby Kohut spoke to a group of 90 job seekers in Rochester NY; this session was sponsored by The August Group and was organized by Lou Grillo. I’ll be recapping this event along with her other events in Rochester – see Abby’s schedule here.

Abby starts reminds job hunters that you are captain of your own career and that it is up to you to decide on what advice you want to take and how to use it.

When you ask others for advice, they are giving you their opinion. When you ask lots of people for advice, you get lots of opinions and that is where things get confusing. You have to figure out what make sense to you.

Overqualified vs. Absolutely Qualified

When you hear the word overqualified, what do you think that means? Here are reasons job hunters are told they are overqualified:

  • You are too expensive (salary is too high).
  • You have too much experience.
  • You will leave too soon.
  • You are too old.
  • You have too much education.

What do you think employers are really thinking when they tell you that you are overqualified? Employers are fearful. They fear:

  • Your attitude is: Been there, done that.
  • You will leave for the higher salary or title at the first opportunity.
  • You will resist taking direction from others (because you were the boss before and now you are not).
  • Your colleagues or managers will feel threatened by you.
  • You might want to be promoted quicker than what may be planned.
  • You will keep looking once you this job.

When you find an employer that says believe you are overqualified and you either know or suspect that some of these employer fears are in the background, how do you overcome perception?

Tell the employer: I am not overqualified, I am absolutely qualified and here’s why:

  • I can hit the ground running – there is very little training I will need for this position.
  • I am committed to this cause/organization because _______.
  • I have a broader range of experiences that will help the organization as they work their strategic plan.
  • I am great at solving problems.
  • My learning curve will be shorter than others.
  • I have a proven track record of success.
  • Over the years, I have worked with many people and personalities effectively.’

Think about the one or two reasons you should be telling prospective employers about why you are absolutely qualified!

Questions about Absolutely Qualified Resumes

Abby addresses many of the questions people have about resumes and what are the best ways to highlight your job information.

How many years do you list?

The answer is it depends – on your industry and your job history. It is perfectly acceptable to list anywhere from 10-25 years. If your job history is extensive, you may want to cut off the early part, however, do not cut it off right before a Director level position. Employers and recruiters want to see how you got to this position.

Avoid mentioning the number of years in your cover letter or summary overview at the top of your resume. Instead, say something like: I have extensive years of experience….

Always include dates on your resume with one exception: you can include or omit graduation dates for your education.

For more information on listing your resume years, see this post: Staffing Secrets Panel: Part 1.

Resume information

If you are applying for an individual contributor role, omit the number of people you were managing when talking about direct reports.

List all the current technology skills you have especially if you are applying for a position below a VP/Director level. Employers want to know that you have the tactical skills to do the job.

Include your LinkedIn profile on your resume. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is complete and includes a professional picture.

Absolutely Qualified Interviews

Any interview you get is a foot in the door. Recruiters and companies do not want to waste their time interviewing people who are not likely candidate for their jobs. Once you have the interview, getting the job is up to you.  If you are not good at interviewing, you have to work on it.

Dress the part. If you are interviewing with a corporation – wear a suit. Women can wear a skirt or pants suit.

Expect a young interviewer. Interviewing is one of the entry-level jobs for people wanting to get into Human Resources.

Check your ego at the door. There is a different between being cocky and confident. If you are not sure what message you are sending, ask your best friend – they will tell you.

If you are older, discuss activities while you are in the interview. Let them know you are not slowing down.

Mention technology in a way that lets them you know are tech savvy. Bring your IPad or smart phone with you (make sure it is on silence). Be ready to put either into action.

Avoid appearing desperate. Employers want to hire people who are excited about working for their companies and not just looking for a paycheck.

Anticipate questions about career goals especially if you are older. They want to know about how long you are planning to work to decide if you are a good investment. Think about how you will answer them.

Invariably, you will get the question: Why do you want to work here? Be ready with the exact reason why you want to work for that specific company.

Here’s a tip if you are willing to work for less money than your last position, it’s OK to say that but back it up with information. You may share that your financial situation is solid, the kids are past college or you have downsized so expenses are under control. Whatever the reason – let them know so they can discount the “you are making too much money” objection.

Final tip – your success with overcoming the overqualified objection lies solely with how you project yourself to the employer – on paper, digitally and in person. If it’s not working, then figure out how to fix it.

  1. A powerful post is a thing of beauty and you have written one here. Your advice about the “over-qualified” issue is spot on, toting a nearly breathless array of truisms about employer perceptions and the candidate approaches that turn negatives into positives. All I can say is, well done! ~Dawn