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Between the Trapezes Sick of Hearing "You're Overqualified"?
October 2010


Welcome to Between the Trapezes! That space between two career certainties can be unsettling. But taking the leap across is what brings career success. -- Joanne Meehl, aka The Job Search Queen

  • Three Ways of Dealing With "You're Overqualified"
  • "7 Careers" is a Myth
  • Stuck or Stalled in Your Search?
  • Tip of the Month

  • Three Ways of Dealing With "You're Overqualified"

    Tired of hearing "You're overqualified" during your job search or while working for a promotion?

    In many cases, you're right if you think this is "code" for "You're have too much experience/You're too old". But don't think that the employer is being biased by saying this. Instead, look behind what they're saying. Challenge it. Don't let it slide by. Here's how.

    1. Ask for a clarification
    This employer liked your resume, and saw enough of a match to actually have you in for an interview. And they are now telling you "You're overqualified" -- seems kind of odd, isn't it? Well, if you don't push to know more, you'll leave the meeting thinking that it's all about age discrimination, when that may not be what it is at all. (More about this another's really salary or inflexibility discrimination. But we'll save that for another article.)
    So ask the employer to explain what they mean. Don't be angry or defensive here, be genuinely curious. Their answer will give you the REAL reason. If it's "You'd get bored", talk about the work and what excites you about it. If it's "You had a bigger title", discuss the functions of the job that appeal to you, regardless of title.

    2. Get more details
    This sounds like #1 above but it's more about being a detective. If you've received that rejection email that says "Thanks but no thanks, you are overqualified", call the hiring manager. You have nothing to lose. Do not be defensive or angry, but use the opportunity to actually talk with him or her and ask for "two ways I can make a better case for the next employer". Not "What could I have done to convince you?", which puts them on the spot. I can guarantee that you will learn what you need to do next time, instead of just walking away dejected from "You're overqualified".

    3. Head 'em off at the pass
    This is like the old western movies, when the good guys surprised the bad guys with a sudden appearance seemingly from out of nowhere! This approach suggests you bring it up BEFORE they do. Meaning, YOU can say "While I have experience, I don't think I'm overqualified for this position because I'm focusing more on the following aspects of the job:...." Your points will need to be strong. And genuine.

    If you cannot bring yourself to do any of the "countermeasures" above, then you are someone who cannot compromise. This is fine. But understand that you must, then, change how you're looking for a new job: you need to lead not with your resume, which too often puts you in front of those who object to "so much" experience. Instead, you must network your way in to companies -- and positions -- that you want.

    When I work with individuals on their job search campaigns, we deal with this "objection" on a case-by-case basis. We work on the right language about this that works for them. But know that if you challenge this statement each time, you'll increase your chances of making it to the finalist round -- and of getting an offer.

    "7 Careers" is a Myth

    How many people do you know have actually changed CAREERS -- not jobs -- seven or more times?!

    I'm betting your answer is "Zero". Well, I agree.

    So where does this career folklore come from? and how true is it, really?

    Click the link below, and you'll see my answer.

    Stuck or Stalled in Your Search?
    Question mark

    Your career funds your life. So are you tired of waiting for "something" to happen in your career while watching others land good jobs? Are you ready to take action and land where you should be? Do you want to laugh at the Great Recession? Then consider a Quick Consult with the Queen -- Job Search and Resume Queen, that is!

    Why let more time go by with no salary or a too-low salary? Find out what's right AND what's wrong during a Quick Consult with the Queen. This 1 1/2 to 2-hour session gives you concrete steps to follow for getting unstuck. It also gives you practical insights into what YOU bring a new employer, knowledge about what sets you apart from the crowd of other candidates. The fee is $175 and the results are priceless!

    And if you choose to work with Joanne on these steps, that fee is applicable to any job search project package.

    Joanne Meehl does Quick Consults in person, via Skype or GoogleApps Videochat, or over the phone. Call Joanne at 612/807-0258 (978/355-4200 in Massachusetts) or email her at to schedule your session.

    Tip of the Month

    Don't let your network forget you, especially if you're in job search.

    If you're working, be sure to refresh the "update" section of your LinkedIn profile. This will go out to your contacts. Networking is not just for job search, so enrich your current position -- and make your next search much easier -- by keeping your contacts up to date on what you're doing.

    If you're between positions, it's vital that you let people in your network know you're still there and looking, so that they can help you. So every 3-4 weeks, send out a simple email (blind copy/bcc the email addresses, please), or use e-newsletter software, to be in touch with your contacts.

    What do you say? Keep it brief. List 4-5 current target companies, for example, asking for "introductions to people there you know". Some senders get known for adding an inspirational or motivational quote, which means more people open their email when it arrives just to see the quote! So always sound upbeat and determined.

    And always include all your contact info.

    Don't forget to keep fresh your comments in the "Update" line of your LinkedIn profile, as well.

    In today's longer searches, reminders like this tell your network you're still needing their connections and ideas. Don't let them forget you!


    Joanne Meehl

    Thought of the Day:

    A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.

    -- Sir Francis Bacon


    Now available! Interview Prep Packages
    These include phone interviews (if you don't do well with these, you don't get the face-to-face interview), face-to-face, face-to-face taped, and via Skype. Our HR Business Partner Kelly Colosimo applies her HR and recruiter expertise to YOUR interview skills. Make AND fix any mistakes in these sessions, instead of during the real thing!
    For more info, and to book your session, contact Joanne Meehl via


    Job search networking: Next meeting October 7th, Face2Face Job Search Networking for Professionals, Wayzata, Minnesota. Topic: Combatting "You're Overqualified"
    Details for all meetings are at the
    Upcoming Meetings/Dates link.
    What will you find, if you attend? An upbeat, lively atmosphere, plenty of new information about the job search in this very competitive job market, effective networking, camaraderie with 60-90 of your peers, great speakers on current topics, and a chance to sharpen your focus so that you get noticed by hiring managers. We guarantee this group will add energy and power to your job search. All info is at


    Ever since a colleague called Joanne Meehl "The Resume Queen" years ago, and she then trademarked the title, Joanne has worked to live up to the name by constantly keeping her resumes in tune with what employers will read. Since then, she added "The Job Search Queen" (now also trademarked), and uses this title more often, because it better reflects the breadth of her services.


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    • Assn of Career Professionals Int'l
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