What being "overqualified" really means

Written by Scott Brown

If you've been working for a while, chances are you've found yourself in an interview with someone who tells you you're "overqualified." Interviews are quite a nerve-wracking situation and at first it sounds like a compliment. But if you're like most people, you're left bewildered, wondering whatrepparttar interviewer meant. Today we're going to address this as a response to a question from one of our subscribers.


I've enjoyed your articles very much and have used some ofrepparttar 139085 information in my job search successfully. However, I have two pressing questions I want to ask. What is a job seeker to do when they are told repeatedly in interviews they are allegedly over-qualified? I have been on interviews for positions that are almost exactly likerepparttar 139086 one I was laid-off from recently. However, interviewers flat out tell me that although I have impressive and desirable credentials, they feel I'm over-qualified. My second concern pertains to compensation. Inrepparttar 139087 rare events that I haven't been "over-qualified", I have managed to avoid discussing this taboo, yet all-important topic since this is what really drives companies to hire a particular candidate. Inrepparttar 139088 unfortunate eventrepparttar 139089 topic comes up before getting an offer, I have given a "range" as to what I'd expect based on area living standards, what such a position fetches for inrepparttar 139090 industry as a whole, and obviously my credentials. I have tried various tactics from selling myself extremely short allrepparttar 139091 way up to "no way in hell" for pay ranges, but regardless, I getrepparttar 139092 form letter saying thanks for interviewing, but keep looking for a job. It's a catch-22 here it seems. On one hand I'm over-qualified, but when I'm not, I apparently ask for too much money even if I just state a reasonable range and justify my given range. Am I over-simplifying this or is there something else going on here that I'm unaware of? -J.H.

J.H., Thanks for your email and forrepparttar 139093 compliments!

It sounds like when employers say you're overqualified, they're looking at your qualifications and realizing that they'd have to pay you a salary that's onrepparttar 139094 high-end ofrepparttar 139095 salary range. And it sounds like you're expecting that high-end salary yourself.

I think in a good economy, employers can afford to hire "overqualified" individuals. Sometimes, ifrepparttar 139096 job market is tight - as it was a few years ago - employers might have no choice becauserepparttar 139097 less expensive and less qualified people are all working elsewhere.

I'm not sure what kind of work you do so it's difficult to get intorepparttar 139098 particulars..

One option would be to go for a job with a lower salary. By now, you probably knowrepparttar 139099 types of companies and positions that are not willing to pay for your qualifications. You could go into interviews with these companies and explain before they even start asking you questions that you really want to work for their firm and you're willing to work for a salary onrepparttar 139100 low end ofrepparttar 139101 range. By preemptively addressingrepparttar 139102 salary question, you make it clear that you're not expecting a higher salary. This will makerepparttar 139103 employer more comfortable withrepparttar 139104 idea of offering yourepparttar 139105 position and help alleviate their concerns that you would jump ship as soon as a sweeter offer comes along. Another approach to getting a job with a lower salary would be to remove some ofrepparttar 139106 qualifications from your resume. You don't want to lie on your resume, but you can legitimately omit certain facts. For example, if you graduated Phi Beta Kappa or Magna Cum Laude, you are not obligated to list that on your resume.

If you want to get a job with a higher salary, you might want to try working for a different type of company. There is often a difference in salary between jobs that are inrepparttar 139107 company's "line of business" versus support/staff jobs. For example, an accountant working for a corporation to help maintain their books and records or do their taxes, would be working in a staff job thatrepparttar 139108 company would view as an expense or cost center. Companies work hard to minimize their costs (and therefore salaries) in cost center departments.

Handling Strange Interview Questions

Written by Scott Brown

In this week's job searching tip, we address an inquiry from a subscriber about an interviewer asking strange questions. As we discuss in this tip, persuading an interviewer to hire you often requires takingrepparttar initiative to find out what their root concerns really are, even if their questions seem strange or even illegal onrepparttar 139084 surface.


In an interview I was asked about what year I graduated. Is this considered illegal since it probes someone's age indirectly?

Also, this may not specifically be a legal/illegal question: I was asked what my GPA was in school, which was 17 years ago. I asked why it would be important torepparttar 139085 position, but then answered it. The interviewer may or may have not been interested in determining my age, butrepparttar 139086 question seemed pretty uesless. Recommendations on how to handle obtuse questions like this one?

- J.O.

Dear J.O.,

Yes I agreerepparttar 139087 question is unusual and quite possibly illegal. Of course reporting illegal questions to government authorities or threatening to sue potential employers probably isn'trepparttar 139088 best job searching strategy. But I'm not a lawyer so you shouldn't use what I have to say as a substitute for legal advice. You can also reviewrepparttar 139089 EEOC's guidelines regarding discriminatory practices on their web site at this address: http://www.eeoc.gov/abouteeo/overview_practices.html

Some recruiters are unaware of employment laws and may not know that it is illegal to discriminate against older candidates.

Did you getrepparttar 139090 feeling your age would be a benefit or a liability in terms of persuadingrepparttar 139091 person to hire you? I guessrepparttar 139092 ideal strategy for dealing with a situation like that would be to try to do what salespeople would call "value elicitation" to determine whatrepparttar 139093 interviewer wants.

You could say something like "I did really well in school. In addition to having a solid GPA, I was involved in several extracurricular activities. My college experience has been very helpful in shaping my philosophies about work. It's interesting to contrast my experience inrepparttar 139094 real world with how I thought it would be before I graduated college. How do you feel about experience in relation to this position - are you looking for someone who has been out inrepparttar 139095 workforce and has gained perspective, or isrepparttar 139096 position more suited to a recent graduate?"

What I did with that response was I addressedrepparttar 139097 interviewer's purported concern about grades, and then went further to ask him if he's looking for someone right out of school or if he values experience. Ifrepparttar 139098 interviewer said they were looking for a recent graduate,repparttar 139099 reason is probably that they want someone they can train and/or someone who doesn't want a lot of money. Of course you can ask more value elicitation questions to try to determine whyrepparttar 139100 person is looking forrepparttar 139101 type of person they're looking for. The key here is to make sure your attitude is one of curiosity, not one of accusation or distrust. If you askrepparttar 139102 question with a tone indicating you thinkrepparttar 139103 person's being unfair, you'll put them onrepparttar 139104 defensive and they'll be less likely to cooperate. Your tone should be similar to how a waiter would ask "Would you like fries or a baked potato?"

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