How many times have you felt you were PERFECT for that role, but still didn’t get it? You went over the interview in your mind a hundred times, noted how easily the conversation flowed, how they interviewer would nod enthusiastically when you described a certain experience or skill. They seemed excited when they said they would get back to you soon.
Then you got the email that you weren’t chosen.
Safe to say, I think we’ve all been there.
I’m a firm believer in if you didn’t get the job, something better will come along. Through the years, some of our clients have come back to us to tell us about interviews they nailed and were sure they got the job. But didn’t.
However, there are various reasons companies may choose a different route:
They decided to hire internally. As unfair as it sounds, they may have already had a front runner in mind but posted it anyway to see if there is someone better. Some companies HAVE to post externally due to contract constraints or affirmative action plans. Federal contractors or government agencies may have to post externally as well.
You were overqualified. Perhaps they think you won’t do tasks you deem “beneath you”. While it’s unfair for them to assume what you will or won’t do, it is a common concern. They may also fear that you will be bored at the job—especially if you’ve been on an impressive career track. Or, that after a while, you will leave and they’ll be back to square one.
You were underqualified. Thinking you’d be great in a role and actually having the experience to master the role are two different things. Read the job description thoroughly and make sure you have the experience to apply for the role.
They already had another candidate in mind. It’s possible they already found their choice but they had to have a certain amount of candidates to interview to fill their candidate roster. It might be company policy that X number of people need to be interviewed before a choice can be made.
Your online presence wasn’t professional or up-to-date. Hiring managers check your social media profiles to learn more about you. Turn on your privacy settings if you have personal pictures or information on there. Also, if you haven’t updated your LinkedIn profile in a while (or years!), now is the time to do it. Lack of LI presence can hurt you as well. Get it up to date.
You shared too much. I’ve talked with recruiters who said the candidate told them their life story—the good, bad, and ugly—and in the process turned off the recruiter. Keep the conversation on the company, their pain points, how you can help them, and that’s it. Don’t talk about your jerk boss, your sick parent, or a personal health problem. They really don’t want to or need to hear it. Keep it professional.
You didn’t know enough about the company. Be very prepared when you go to the interview. Research the company, its mission, what they do, what they sell, or what they are about. Research the role, figure out their pain points. Have questions ready to interview the interviewer, questions like, “What should I know about the role I am seeking? Do you have any other insight?” Be both knowledgeable and inquisitive.
Whatever the answer, you may never know. You might have done everything right and still did not get the job. It might have been narrowed down to you and someone else, but they went with the other person because they had more strategy experience.
Either way, you gave it your all.
About two months ago, an operations exec said to me, “You know, after three rounds of interviews, they finally told me I wasn’t chosen. So, I reached out to a few old colleagues that resulted in a round of interviews with a company I was never interested in and an industry I wasn’t very familiar with. But they liked me and saw what my vision was for their company–and hired me. It has been the best job I’ve ever had.”
If you are struggling with job search, hang tight. The right job will come along.
Sometimes, you find yourself in the unenviable category of “overqualified” candidates when applying for a job.If you are interested in a position that you overqualify for, take a proactive stance and answer some common interviewer’s questions before they are asked.
Answer “why are you applying for a job you overqualify for?” in your cover letter. Maybe you want to have a less demanding position because you have decided family time is more important than working 70 hours a week. Along with that, make sure you state that you highly appreciate being able to have a job that allows you to use your skills and work fewer hours. Another scenario is the person who has found they really enjoy the challenges of the lower level job and has decided they do not want to move up.
Answer “won’t you move on to another opening as soon as one shows up?” with a resume that has highlighted the skills and experience you bring to the job, how those skills meet the job requirements, and some questions of your own during the interview that show your interest will be ongoing.
Answer “how will you react to a younger supervisor and new technology?” by relating instances in your career where you worked successfully with all ages, and the technology trends you have kept up with or are currently learning how to use.
Answer “what if we can’t pay you what you were making before?” by being prepared to discuss salary and a firm grasp of what you will accept, even if it is less. You may very well be working for less than you made before, but if the job is one you enjoy, that is worth more than dollars.
The cover letter and resume for an “overqualified” job seeker need to be fine-tuned to answer some of the questions satisfactorily and get you the interview where you can discuss the rest. If you are not sure how to do this, perhaps our coaching services would be a good investment. A Certified Career Coach can work with you one-on-one to strategize your job search effectively, and transform being “overqualified” into an asset that gets you that interview.
The following is a guest post from careers writer, Brendan Cruickshank.
++++ The idea is such a joke that there is now a book out by this name,Overqualified by Joey Comeau. Comeau writes cover letters to send with resumes, but they are not your run of the mill cover letters. Instead, they are outrageous, over the top cover letters. Comeau writes cover letters that say things like “It sounds like the sort of job that I don’t even need to think about while I’m doing it,” and “I have been programming Perl for eight years, on every business appropriate platform there is, and I’ve been around long enough to understand that there are no human beings reading this.” Comeau writes his letters as a joke, but as with all jokes, there is a kernel of truth here. And the truth is, people who are overqualified for a job get cynical and jaded.Please don’t apply for or take a job for which you are overqualified. Even if you are hired (and most employers know better than to hire someone who is grossly overqualified), that job will not only make you unhappy, but make everyone around you, at work and at home, utterly miserable. Good human resources managers know this already: an underqualified and inexperienced candidate is preferable to an overqualified one any day. Why? If you are underqualified, but enthusiastic about a job, you can and will learn how to do it. Learning the job will give you a challenge – and employees who are appropriately challenged are a joy to be around. They approach their work with creative, open minds. They don’t bring with them any preconceived notions or entrenched bad habits that they learned from previous coworkers or managers. Most importantly, they are not burned out. If you lack experience for the work that you are applying for, don’t try to hide that fact. Instead, play up the advantages: you are enthusiastic, eager to learn, bright, open, full of energy and ideas. Once you get to the interview stage, it will be relatively easy for you to show your enthusiasm for the job. But in your resume, it is harder. If you want a potential employer to notice your energy and enthusiasm, and ask you in for an interview, use your resume to highlight the experience that you do have, and to point out areas of your life in which you show tremendous energy and motivation, even if those areas come from volunteer work, internships, extracurricular activities, or sports that you participate in. Then, write a compelling cover letter – not a Comeau-esque letter like the ones I’ve quoted above, but a letter that shows your personality and the ways in which you are personally a good fit for this kind of work. Take a humble approach. Write about what you think you can learn from the job you are applying for – what you can learn from your supervisors, from your colleagues, from the company itself. This might sound like a risk. It might sound as though you are highlighting your own lack of experience. In a sense, you are, but that’s okay. What you are really doing is showing that you are ready for something new – and that you are smart enough to recognize a good opportunity when you see it. Have you ever heard the expression, “flattery will get you everywhere?” Flattery may not get you everywhere, but in a good cover letter, it will get you in the door for an interview – and that’s exactly what you need it to do.
— In his 8 years in the job search and recruiting industry, Brendan has served in senior client services roles with major sites like Juju.com and JobsInTheMoney.com. He has been regularly quoted on topics such as employment as well as jobs. His opinions have appeared in the Wall Street Journal and US News & World Report as well as other major publications.
Looking for a job is not always fun, and you need a good resume to help you along in the process. Here’s an important question to consider—does your resume give the impression that you are overqualified for the job you want? Or, are you truly overqualified to get the job that your heart desires?
Having too many qualifications for a job can be detrimental to a job seeker looking for either a different type of position, or one considered “lower”. Deciding how to write your resume properly to get the job you want is a necessity. However, there is one other thing to consider when re-writing your resume, be sure to include the important things. Deleting things from your resume can be very detrimental to your job search, even if you feel it will over-qualify you.
Something else to keep in mind about changing your resume around for the one single job that you want is that the company may have other openings. This is an important point to consider—quite often, a resume will be passed around within a company if the job you want is not available. When you suddenly present a resume that is accurate and different from the original, your prospective employer will be put off. So, the problem that presents itself is how to write the resume, still show that you have a lot of qualifications—but scare possible employers away. You are determined to get a job that you really want, but you are overqualified for it. There may be a number of reasons for your decision to “lower yourself”, and this is something to consider when talking to prospective employers. Once your resume has made it into an employer’s hands, and they seem interested, some will be confused. Why would you want a job that is beneath you? Have some valid reasons to back yourself up. Tell them what made you come to this decision. You don’t need to say, “well, I can’t get anything else”, but you could say something like, “Yes, I know I might be a little overqualified, but this type of position has always interested me and I think having these extra skills could really impact the position and what it could do for ABC Co.” etc. Changing industries and jobs may be more difficult to do due to your being over qualified. On the other hand, your willingness to learn something new may make all the difference in the world when the prospective employer considers you for the job. It does not matter if you are overqualified for a job or not—it is still possible to get it.Communicating properly—both verbally and through demonstrating an eagerness to learn and change—will make a huge impression.
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