Sunday, June 27, 2010

Denied for being too qualified

by JT O'Donnell and Dale Dauten The Arizona Republic June 27, 2010

Dear J.T. & Dale: I recently went through a series of interviews and thought I had the job till I got a voicemail stating they decided to go with someone they'd "worked with previously." They also said that perhaps I was a little overqualified.

I'm a recent college grad. How could I be overqualified?

Dale: I'm so frustrated by managers relying on such a lame excuse that here's a new formula: Anyone who rejects an employee for being overqualified is underqualified to be a manager. Great bosses hire the best people they can find, and are good enough managers to know that they can keep them engaged and involved and, as the economy improves, help them move up.

J.T.: A bit of an overstatement, perhaps, but just so you know, one of the reasons companies start worrying about "overqualified" candidates is because of bad experiences. They've chosen candidates with too-good qualifications, only to have those people leave them shortly thereafter. The result becomes a fixation on hiring someone who'll be satisfied with what he or she has got.

Dale: What can you do? You can search for a great boss who wants ambitious people, but the great ones are hard to find, and rarely use the traditional job market.

Meanwhile, here's what you do: In interviews, don't just sell yourself on how terrific you are. By doing that, you can come across as cocky and overly ambitious. Instead, sell your skills as a team player.

And also emphasize that you're eager to learn. What I'm about to say is corny but useful: Instead of coming across as a know-it-all, come across as a learn-it-all.

J.T.: And during the interview, mention that you hope to find a company and manager to work with long term. If all goes well, you'll find a great boss, and you'll work together for many years, moving up together.

Denied for being too qualified

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