Are You Overqualified? 3 Crucial Steps to Land a Job You're 'Too Good' For

by Maurie Backman | Published on Aug. 19, 2021

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A man in the background sits at a desk with a name plate that reads "Overqualified."

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In some cases, it can pay to take a job you're overqualified for. Here's how to get one.

If you're in the market for a new job, you may be eager to land a promotion. Or you may be willing to go the opposite route and take on a role that's beneath your current skill and experience level. In fact, in a recent FlexJobs survey, 56% of respondents have thought about applying to jobs they’re overqualified for.

Why would you want a job you're overqualified for? For one thing, that may be your only choice if your ideal job is out of reach right now (say, because companies aren't hiring for it or because you need to work on boosting certain skills to become a more viable candidate for it).

Also, in some cases, doing a job you're overqualified for can make your life less stressful. Say there's a job you know you can breeze through with ease -- one that won't require you to work late all the time or log in on weekends to handle matters that can't wait. That could create the work-life balance you want. And, depending on your personal circumstances, it could mean having to spend less on childcare by working fewer hours.

Still, convincing an employer to hire you for a job you're overqualified for may be easier said than done. While you'd think a company would jump at the chance to bring someone on board with more skills than what they're looking for, employers are often hesitant to hire overqualified candidates for fear that they'll jump ship the moment a better job opportunity arises. Here's how to convince an employer that you really want a job you may technically be "too good" for.

1. Be honest about what's motivating you

You may be looking for a job with a reliable schedule. That's not something to be ashamed about. Quite the contrary -- if you tell an employer that having a dependable schedule takes priority for you, that company may be more motivated to hire you knowing there's a reason you want to be there, and that you're not just applying because you're desperate.

2. Talk up the fact that you still want to learn

Any time you get workplace experience, it can help you grow your career and pave the way to new opportunities down the line. If you're applying for a job you're overqualified for, explain that you feel you'll learn a lot by taking on that role and engaging with your peers.

3. Be flexible on salary

Accepting a job you're overqualified for will often mean taking a pay cut in the process. And you should make it clear that that's something you're willing to do. Of course, if you're going to be earning less money, it's a good idea to have a healthy savings account balance first. That way, you won't risk falling behind on your bills. But the key is to make it known that you don't expect your current salary to be matched.

For many people, taking a step backward career-wise is the last thing they'd want to do. But in some cases, taking a job you're overqualified for could be a savvy move -- especially if you're easing your way back into the workforce after having kids or you want a job that will allow you to be there for your children more easily. And even if you don't have kids, you may be burned out on the job front and ready for a role that's not as demanding. If you play your cards right, you may be able to convince an employer to give you a chance -- even if you seem "too good" for the role at hand.

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