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"overqualified" ?
Old 09-08-2016, 11:51 AM   #1
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"overqualified" ?

For the past three years, I have worked contract jobs in my field.

But it has been increasingly hard to find a job in my field using the skills I have as the jobs have either moved out of state or overseas.

I am resigned to the fact that I am forced into early retirement.

I *think* I have the financial resources to retire now, but I would prefer to work for a few more years at any job except Walmart or fast food.

Anyway, I have been applying to "office" jobs, but when I get an in-person interview, I get the -- why are you here question.

How do I respond?

I have a resume that is one page and highlight my Microsoft Office skills including Excel.

Frustated.
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Old 09-08-2016, 12:09 PM   #2
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Why not tell the truth?

Clearly, your résumé is good enough to get an interview, so why did you apply to this job? Why do you want to work here?
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Old 09-08-2016, 12:13 PM   #3
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Overqualified is job speak for "TO OLD" age discrimination at it's best.
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Old 09-08-2016, 12:13 PM   #4
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I thought the hesitancy to hire overqualified people is that they are probably just biding time until something in the field opens up and they can jump to it.


If you skills are no longer in demand, you aren't a threat to do that anymore. I'd say just what you said above. There is no demand for your job skills and you've recognized that and think this is the right job with your current skills in today's job market. Ask if they are worried you won't stay long, and again state that there's no demand around for your other skills and you don't expect there will be, so you're not really overqualified anymore. But you do have some skills (MS Office, etc) that do make you a good fit for this job.
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Old 09-08-2016, 12:20 PM   #5
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I thought the hesitancy to hire overqualified people is that they are probably just biding time until something in the field opens up and they can jump to it.

+1

When I was a manager, I passed on hiring a gentleman who fit this description to a T. He'd recently been a VP in IT, but it was during a recession, and he hadn't been able to find another VP (or even Director) gig in over 9 months. He was interviewing for a project management position (which he could have done in his sleep), but there was simply no way he'd have stuck around if anything better came along.

Frankly, he was better qualified than almost our entire (highly dysfunctional) executive team, so he'd probably have gone insane even before he quit.
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Old 09-08-2016, 12:21 PM   #6
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Why not tell the truth?

Clearly, your résumé is good enough to get an interview, so why did you apply to this job? Why do you want to work here?
I do tell the truth, but I often get the "whatever" look = disbelief that it is the truth look.

I also cut off my resume at 1 page just listing employers for the past 10 years.
But clearly my history goes way beyond 10 years which also surprises them when they see me in person.
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Old 09-08-2016, 12:25 PM   #7
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+1
but there was simply no way he'd have stuck around if anything better came along.
Yeah, but how many months or even years would it take for "something better to come along"? Frankly, I seriously doubt it will.

I am nowhere close to the VP stratosphere, but I have found employers classically ask for the 2 years of experience.

I am fortunate that I saved. I would be "toast" now otherwise.
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Old 09-08-2016, 12:31 PM   #8
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I thought the hesitancy to hire overqualified people is that they are probably just biding time until something in the field opens up and they can jump to it.


If you skills are no longer in demand, you aren't a threat to do that anymore. I'd say just what you said above. There is no demand for your job skills and you've recognized that and think this is the right job with your current skills in today's job market. Ask if they are worried you won't stay long, and again state that there's no demand around for your other skills and you don't expect there will be, so you're not really overqualified anymore. But you do have some skills (MS Office, etc) that do make you a good fit for this job.
Thanks.

Keep hammering the no longer in demand phrase until it sinks in.
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Old 09-08-2016, 12:44 PM   #9
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just tell them you know you may be a bit over qualified for the position but you are ready for a change and are open on salary
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Old 09-08-2016, 01:06 PM   #10
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Ack! that sounds defeatist. Hammer on what you can do for them, and say their job is the kind of work that interests you these days. I'm hoping you really do feel enthusiasm for the job you're seeking. While you can't force them to believe you will never jump ship, you can make it plain that you would be an asset and they should take a chance on you.

Truly they also take a chance with in-demand young talent, who are inclined to "jump ship" as soon as they get bored. You just have to seem like a better chance.

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Thanks.

Keep hammering the no longer in demand phrase until it sinks in.
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Old 09-08-2016, 01:13 PM   #11
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Why not tell a convenient truth?

You want to change fields because this field <where job is> after careful thought and an epiphany attracts you so much more. Because <field cures cancer / prevents puppies from dying / consumer retail is where real happiness is created / ..>.

Now you are looking for an opportunity to break into the space, and understand that all your previous experience doesn't transfer. So you start at the bottom, and hope to learn and grow.

There you are: a highly motivated guy looking for a break into his new found love.

Who can resist such a positive story where the recruiter can be the hero
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Old 09-08-2016, 03:51 PM   #12
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Now you are looking for an opportunity to break into the space, and understand that all your previous experience doesn't transfer. So you start at the bottom, and hope to learn and grow.
Very valid point as is Amethyst's post -- Hammer on what you can do for them, and say their job is the kind of work that interests you these days. I'm hoping you really do feel enthusiasm for the job you're seeking. While you can't force them to believe you will never jump ship, you can make it plain that you would be an asset and they should take a chance on you

Be positive and show a can-do attitude.

Thanks all!
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Old 09-08-2016, 04:23 PM   #13
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Did you run your numbers through firecalc, and do you know your expenses ?

I am curious as to the kind of job you do that is dying off ?

I had a rare kind of skill which meant I had to take contract jobs in other States and was attracted to taking some in other Countries mostly for the excitement, but I stayed Stateside.

So, what is stopping you from taking a contract job in another State ?
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Old 09-08-2016, 04:41 PM   #14
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Upon reflection, there can be another reason for this question as I had it after I had done many contracts.
I went for a "regular" job and I impressed them, but then the owner asks me "Why are you applying for this job" ? "and how do I know you won't take the first contract that comes up" ?

He basically wanted re-assurance that I would not take off at the drop of a hat, so I expressed to him a couple of the issues of contracting that people who don't do it never think about. He was satisfied and I stayed there nearly 5 years.
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Old 09-08-2016, 04:56 PM   #15
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Overqualified can mean a few things:

You're too old (do you look/act your age, or older? Work on that, very easy to take 5 years off)
You want too much money (avoid getting too specific until you have a good feel)
You are more qualified than the person hiring you, therefore, a threat
You probably won't be happy since this is a step down, and unhappy = poison for my team

So... dumb it down a bit? Remove good titles from your resume and speech. You weren't a manager you were a senior, you weren't a department head, you had some leadership stuff. You weren't a tenured seasoned expert, but scrappy and adaptable, etc. Play up the team player, excited to contribute, to learn new things. etc.

Hiring people is a PITA. No one wants to hire someone who is looking for a foot in the door and then jumps up or out in 6 months.
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Old 09-08-2016, 06:22 PM   #16
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I do tell the truth, but I often get the "whatever" look = disbelief that it is the truth look.
Try the truth on me right now. Convince me that I should hire you.

BTW, I would ask "Why do you want to work here?" of every person I had to interview. They should have a decent answer. And it would not matter at all their age and qualifications at that point since they got to the interview.
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Old 09-08-2016, 07:25 PM   #17
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Could you tr something like "The changes in my prior field made me realize that there won't be a lot of ongoing opportunities. So I was looking for an area where I can use the skills that I've developed in a new way. I'm excited about this job because it's in a field that is evolving quickly/helps others/is making a contribution/etc. and I think the project management/writing/organizational skills I've developed will really help me make a contribution and be effective here."

The tricky part is coming up with something that interests you about the new field/company and some way your existing skills relate to that quality (even if the fields aren't related).
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Old 09-09-2016, 10:46 PM   #18
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Overqualified is job speak for "TO OLD" age discrimination at it's best.
My feelings exactly.

Unfortunately, I would assume that contract work is all that will be available. If it is true that the concern is that you will jump ship at the next opportunity, then contract work resolves that as contract work is typically for a certain project or time period.

This is my biggest financial fear about retiring early. I'm pretty sure I can keep working for 10 more years (I'm 55). However, if I stop working now and find out in 5 or 10 years that I don't have enough money, it will be too late to go back to work - because I'll be over qualified (too old).

The alternative, which I am exploring, is to do work that is up to me alone. For example, do some teaching or doing taxes (I'm an accountant). Basically, do a couple non-standard gigs that will stretch my retirement fund while still allow for more individual (free) time.
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Old 09-10-2016, 09:13 PM   #19
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If you contract through an agency, talk to them. They can tell you what is possible and represent you to the clients. They can pitch you appropriately.

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Old 09-10-2016, 09:41 PM   #20
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Years ago I was auditing Tektronix HR practices. There I discovered that several engineers with advanced degrees had left that 'detail' off their resumes because they wanted technician positions. They wanted to step back from R&D. The HR Manager said they were great technicians, often improving their processes incident to their preferred role.

Design your resume to target the potential employer's needs.
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