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Tech & Work

How do you convince potential employers that you're not overqualified?

People have many reasons to pursue a job that is deemed by others to be "below their station." How do you convince a potential employer to give you a chance?

People have many reasons to pursue a job that is deemed by others to be "below their station." How do you convince a potential employer to give you a chance?

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Of all the reasons to be rejected for a job, being told you're "overqualified" really sucks. There are many reasons someone might look for a position that is "under the station" of what he normally would do. For example, managers who have had enough of the personnel issues that come up too often may seek a position that has no direct reports. Sometimes technical people discover they don't like project management as much as writing code.

Such is the case with one TechRepublic member who recently wrote to me. He said:

"I currently work as a software development manager but I don't like the job I'm doing for a lot of reasons. I've applied many times for a senior developer position in other companies and had dozens of interviews. All my interviewers were impressed by my development skills but nobody wanted to hire me. Two interviewers asked me: now, you command a large team of developers and testers and you're a member of the management of your company, are you sure you will accept to be commanded by a (simple) development team leader? I said yes. But I think they didn't believe me."

I can understand to some extent the fear of the hiring managers. They don't want to hire someone who is going to be unchallenged by the role. What I don't understand is why they can't take the job candidate's word at face value.

My guess is that the candidate's not making himself crystal clear as to the reasons he'd be happy with a less-responsible position. I would prepare a statement that explains why the senior development position is more attractive without being negative about his previous duties. In other words, he shouldn't say, "I hated management," but rather, "After a few months in that job, I discovered that what I really missed was the intensity and focus of a purely development role."

So what about you guys? Have you ever had to "sell yourself" for a position that others deemed below your stature? How'd you handle it?

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

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