Few things are more frustrating than not hearing back from a job you know you're qualified for (not hearing back from lots of jobs you know you're qualified for is one of them).
Why do overqualified applicants make some hiring managers nervous?
Some companies look at overqualified applicants as an opportunity to hire someone who already knows the ropes. Unfortunately, others aren't so enthusiastic. When hiring managers talk about why they're skittish about hiring someone with tons of experience and proven skills, here's what they say:
You'll leave as soon as you get a better offer: Many older workers and retired people are looking for work after years of success in other industries and jobs. Hiring managers look at your stellar experience and wonder whether they will have to replace you as soon as another company makes you an offer.
You'll get bored with your job: You could probably fulfill the job requirements with one hand tied behind your back, and sometimes that spells trouble. Employers don't want you to be bored with the position, feel unfulfilled or unimportant. That translates to bad morale and a good chance they'll be stuck looking through applications again when you move on.
You'll be unhappy with the compensation: Employers want to hire the most successful candidate they can. That usually means the employees who will accept the budgeted amount of pay to carry out their job requirements. It makes good business sense. So if they feel they'll have to offer you more money because of your years of experience, they may pass for a less experienced employee who has similar credentials.
You'll make them look bad: Hiring managers are humans too, and your experience and skill might be intimidating to them. When writing your application or resume, make sure you address how your experience can help you achieve the duties outlined in the job description. During the interview, frame your answers around how your experience can help your manager achieve their goals and lead to success for both of you.
So what can you do about it? It's simple– communicate enthusiasm.
If you aren't getting called for interviews: Take a good hard look at the information you are submitting to potential employers. Be honest. Don't skip relevant experience, but if possible relate that experience to the job you want. If you are able to submit your application with a cover letter or statement of intent, make sure you mention why you want the job you're applying for. Is it a chance to explore a new industry? Maintain your skills while reducing your responsibilities? Have more time to take care of a family member? Make it clear to hiring managers why you are willing to accept less than you may be qualified for, and what excites you about the job opportunity.
If you are getting interviews but not offers: Consider your interview style. It can help to have a friend conduct a mock interview and offer feedback (or video tape you if possible so you can critique yourself). Be sure you aren't coming across as condescending or over-confident, but don't be apologetic or hide your experience. Focus on how your experience can apply to this job, and help your new company achieve its goals. Really think about why you want the job you've applied for and what it means to you; then communicate that passion.
Being overqualified doesn't make you unemployable. Use your experience, passion and proven track record to build a vision of how you could benefit your potential employer, and make sure to share that vision with them.