We understand, the job market is lousy and you have a mortgage to pay.  And by the way, according to the job description, you can do the position in your sleep…so why not apply?

But will you be happy in the position?  Will you feel challenged and satisfied?  Can you handle lower compensation for a lower level role?  If you have answered yes to all of these questions, then consider one more:  Will you feel you are taking a career step backwards?  If the move would be a bit lower on the career ladder than you would prefer, then do yourself and the employer a favor and abstain.

If you do decide the position is a perfect fit for you and your current situation, as an overqualified applicant, you must address certain areas to the employer, or you will not get to the interview stage.  This can easily be done in a well-crafted cover letter addressing the following areas:

The compensation will be the first sticking point.  Compensation is set based on the skills required of the candidate, not the actual skills held by the candidate.  This is a subtle but important point.  For example: If you are a brain surgeon applying for a position to be a greeter at Walmart, do you think Walmart will pay you the salary of a Brain Surgeon or that of a Greeter?  Be clear in the beginning that you are flexible with the salary due to your interest in the position.

Be sure to answer the “why” as the second sticking point will be how serious you are about this role.  Be careful not to give the impression you are only taking the job to make the mortgage payment, as employers will not be receptive to an applicant if they fear they will leave for a more advanced job in the near future. Articulate why you feel this position aligns with your personal situation as well as career goals by addressing areas such as:

  • You see a future with the company and want to advance within it.
  • The opportunity is one in which you can excel based on your prior experience.
  • You love that this position will place you under less stress and give you an opportunity to have greater work/life balance than previous more advanced roles.

By clearly articulating how this position “fits”, the employer will understand your reason for applying despite your higher qualifications.

Written by Betty Crisp

Investing in a Lifetime of Success,

Angela Roberts


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