Clear Comm Consulting

How to Tell Your Story When You are Overqualified for the Job

Jun 26, 2014

This topic has come up often among colleagues and friends and it seems to be happening more and more – you are in line for a job that is actually a slam dunk and yet you still miss the mark! We are facing new rules in this economy and please know you are not alone if you have found yourself facing this dilemma. Instead of continuing your frustration, let’s look at some strategies that can help you or someone you know facing this challenge.

Know the real situation: Where do you REALLY stand on this job? Are they bringing you in as an overqualified curiosity? Might they just hope to pump you for information? What if you really are NOT overqualified for some aspects of this job? (Make sure you understand the job needs and don’t have too grand a view of your abilities!) Try to get as clear of a picture as you can ahead of time, then prep for how you can get them to seriously consider you.

Let them know you understand the situation: After some basics in the interview, when you sense the time is right, consider hitting this head-on. “Looking at my resume’ you might think I would not want this job, but the opposite is true. I’ve come to a place in my career where I want to focus on the work I love, not getting the next big job title. I want to do this work, probably for the rest of my life. I think I can be a real asset here.” Or also, “There some things I know I will learn doing this work for you and that’s what excites me about this position.”

Pitch your ‘other skills and experience’ as a bonus, not a threat: Understand the person you are talking to may feel threatened by you. Or your future co-workers may not like the idea you could be joining them. Make them an ally as quickly as possible. Your best approach, if you really want this job, is to let them know you can be a mentor and colleague, not a know-it-all. Your genuine concern for those around you, as always, is your best asset.  

Disarm any possible issues right away: The bottom line for this approach is to understand the situation you could be entering and then remove those concerns as quickly as possible – both in the interview and when you eventually start the job. Show you are ready to learn. Show respect for those around you. And force yourself to be an observer for a time after you start, instead of jumping in to solve every problem. As always, people warm to ideas much more quickly when they feel it was at least partially their idea! 

In my view of the marketplace, there are too many talented people on the sidelines who don’t know how to get back in the game at the level that can still work for them. Give this some thought and share it with people who have skills to contribute. We need every good person out there!

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Cary Pfeffer is the founder of ClearComm Consulting,, a Scottsdale, AZ communications consulting firm that helps people tell their story. He works with clients to make the most of their media and live audience communication. Email him at: [email protected].

Cary Pfeffer is the founder of ClearComm Consulting,, a Phoenix, AZ-based communications consulting firm which is helping people tell their story. He works with clients to make the most of their media and live audience communication. Email him at: [email protected]

Follow along with Cary on Twitter @CaryPfeffer

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