Are you being told you’re “overqualified?” Focus your résumé on exactly what the employer needs.
By #1 Best-Selling Author Scott Vedder
“I keep hearing I’m overqualified for jobs. What can I do?” The best way to overcome a perception that you’re “overqualified” is to focus your résumé and your interview on explaining precisely why you’re qualified for that particular job.
Your résumé should cite examples from your experience which showcase the results you’ve achieved. Be sure to include only the experience and skills which are directly related to the desired and required qualifications listed in the job posting. Don’t list lots of unrelated accomplishments, achievements and experience. By focusing your résumé only on the skills and experience called for in the posting, you’ll help an employer understand exactly what makes you a great candidate for the job. The employer will not be distracted by all the things you “could” do. Instead they’ll be pleased to see that you’ve got skills which are perfectly suited for their open position. When you connect your experience directly to the job posting, your résumé will speak for itself.
Be sure you use specific examples to quantify what makes you a great candidate for the job. I like to say that your résumé should be full of !@#$%, the Signs of a Great Résumé:
! - Any part of your experience that was "amazing!"
@ - Defining points, places, dates and things in your experience
# - Numbers that quantify and prove your past successes
$ - The dollar value of your contributions
% - Figures that easily show growth and results
A customized cover letter is also a great opportunity to explain why you’re a great fit for a particular job. You can address your level of qualifications in a cover letter by tactfully explaining why you want to work for the company, what you bring to the table and how your experience will enable your long-term success in the position for which you’re applying. When you customize your cover letter to the job posting and you write a résumé that’s full of !@#$%, your résumé will speak for itself and you’ll earn the interview you deserve.
So, why don’t employers higher the people who seem overqualified? Recruiters like me typically don’t want to hire candidates who will “take anything” just to get a foot in the door. Employers may be worried that candidates who possess significantly greater qualifications than are needed in a role will quickly leave a position if something better comes along. Both turnover (people leaving a company) and churnover (movement within a company from one position to another) can result in increased costs for employers. When employees leave, a company has to pay to train a replacement and the on-boarding of a new hire almost always creates a loss in productivity. Candidates who are perceived as overqualified can be considered a “flight risk” and as such might not be the best fit for a role.
When you explain to a recruiter exactly why you’re qualified for the open role and you clarify that you want that job for the right reasons, it will be easy to understand why you’re a great match. It’s ok to have aspirations for advancement, but you should only apply for jobs you really want and which you can imagine yourself performing for some time.
Scott Vedder is a Fortune 100 recruiter and the author of the #1 best-selling résumé book, Signs of a Great Résumé. He has taught thousands of students and job seekers in résumé workshops at high schools, colleges, universities and non-profit organizations across the country. Scott’s book has been endorsed as “Recommended Reading” by groups including the Central Florida Employment Council and recognized by the Society for Human Resource Management. Scott has been featured as a career expert in nationally-syndicated newspaper columns and on international blogs and he’s been interviewed live on dozens of radio programs and television news. For free résumé and interview tips, visit http://scottvedder.com/freestuff.html