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Insights: How to Overcome the Stigma of Being "Overqualified" for a Job You Really Want

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Ask the Expert! Through WISE Insights, connect with knowledgeable experts to receive honest and thoughtful answers to your career-related questions, or read about the challenges your peers are facing.

Question

Submitted by: WISE NYC Metro member | 15+ years professional experience

I have more than 20 years experience and find that the director-level positions that I am interested in often list the experience level at 8-12 years. The job descriptions appear to provide enough challenge and opportunity to learn and grow. At this stage of my career, I am not looking to become CEO; I’m more interested in work-life balance and a job where I can contribute. My first challenge is not to get weeded out because I have too much experience. The second is that when my qualifications can get me to an interview, how can I effectively overcome the objection of being "overqualified” and not be seen as a threat to a hiring manager who is younger than me? 

Answer

The first thing to keep in mind is not to apply for jobs where you may be overqualified. When you are being weeded out, it’s not because you are a threat to the hiring manager, but that they feel you will get bored quickly and move on to another role or company. Apply for jobs that reflect your experience.

The "eight to twelve years" qualification you mention is just a guide. Look at what the role actually wants the person to do and then go from there. If you get to the interview stage, simply focus on your experience and how it relates to the role.

Jane Hollman

About Jane Hollman

Jane Hollman has more than 25 years experience in senior human resources roles at large multinationals and sports across Asia Pacific and the United States. Currently a career coach, she helps business leaders and university students think through their career paths. Hollman is passionate about creating flexible, innovative work places and mentors women looking to start their own businesses. She is also a freelance writer covering the business of sports for publications such as Women Talking Sports.

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