Ask The Career Coach
How do I avoid being rejected for a job due to being overqualified?
When someone is being hired, one of the criteria used to judge fit is whether the person will be engaged in the job. The hiring team may be skeptical that you want to do a job that matches skills you mastered several jobs ago. Their reasoning may be the chances that you will soon get bored are pretty high. They feel the “overqualified” new hire may find the work tedious and will want to do more. Unfortunately, there may be no opportunity in this type of job.
Also, salary also can be an issue. If a job requires three years’ experience and you have 10 years, why should the company pay you a salary commensurate with your years of experience when that is not what the job requires? You normally would have to take a pay cut. Yet, another company may need the skills you have gained over your 10-year career and would be willing to pay you that amount. Why then would you want to stay at the job where you would get paid less?
So what do you do if you really want this job? There may be very legitimate reasons why this job would be the best fit. The commute could be better or family requirements make it a better fit. Maybe you want to have a job that is less stressful due to health reasons or personal preference. Maybe you do not want to manage others anymore and prefer to be an individual contributor. If you have thought through your reasons for wanting to take a step back, then you need to articulate this well. This is where a cover letter may be helpful. Being able to explain yourself and answer the questions your resume poses is how you get past this hurdle. Hand in hand with a cover letter is trying to speak to someone on the hiring team to explain why you are interested in this job. If you can convince someone on the hiring team that you are sincere and are actively pursuing this type of work and this is not just a fallback plan, you might get an interview.
What is the biggest mistake people out of school make when trying to get hired?
To not think bigger than their major. Students are so invested in their major that they often don’t think about other careers where the same learned skills can be used. I have seen graduates who have limited their job search to only one type of job that fits neatly with their major. This means that they limit themselves to only certain companies which narrow their chances of getting hired. I advise graduating seniors to cast a wider net. They should research different types of jobs that use the skills and knowledge learned, either directly or indirectly. Talk to alumni that are three to ten years out of school and see where their career has taken them. This may open up different possibilities to explore.
Why do companies have a policy to not disclose what I could have done better in a failed interview?
Let me give an example of why it is so hard to get feedback from an interview. I once gave feedback to a candidate that really hounded me as to why he was not selected. I was trying to provide feedback in as constructive a manner as possible, hoping that the person would receive it in the spirit of helping him. This person became angry and argumentative. I ended up concluding the phone conversation as quickly as possible. Then, this person sent profane emails to members of the interviewing team as well as senior leaders in the organization. After that, a decision was made not to provide feedback to candidates.
This, unfortunately, is not an isolated incident. Many people doing hiring have had similar experiences. Many candidates say they want feedback, but they really do not if it is not what they want to hear.