Cover Letters For The Overqualified: How To Get Your Foot In The Door

Published: Aug 21, 2014

Cover Letters For The Overqualified: How To Get Your Foot In The Door
Cover Letters For The Overqualified: How To Get Your Foot In The Door

August 21, 2014
By Heather Eagar for

Are you highly skilled in your profession, yet seeking a job for which you are probably overqualified? It is never bad to come into a position already encompassing a boatload of skills. However, some employers are intimidated by applicants who they feel are overqualified—which means you may have your work cut out for you.

If you know you have high qualifications and think this could stand in the way of the job you want, you can use your cover letter to change an employer's mind. Let’s look at three ways you can get this done.

1. Explain your motivation.
If you’ve been in a top position for many years, you may feel that it is time to lower your level of stress and get back to the basics of your profession. For example, you may have been the director of a nonprofit for many years, working diligently to write grants and develop initiatives to bring money into your organization. However, the strenuous lifestyle has left you ready to step into a smaller role as a non-profit event coordinator, something that will offer time to relax and be with your family.

While this is good motivation, an unknowing organization only seeing your background might question your decision to downgrade. So when writing your cover letter, it’s good to focus on how taking this step will offer fulfillment in your career and life. Many hiring managers will understand your motivation, and appreciate you bringing your advanced knowledge to the table.

2. Remember that your experience is a plus.
By being overqualified, you’re coming with an overwhelming amount of experience—something the organization or company can truly benefit from. So, when writing your cover letter, try to stay away from any verbiage that makes your level of experience sound like a handicap. Instead, try explaining some of the ways that your experience can enhance their mission. Take some time to research what they are striving for and then incorporate your skills and advanced knowledge in a way that can present thought provoking ideas for making a difference.

For example, you can explain how as coordinator you would like to create events to entertain disadvantaged children, or bring in business professionals to help homeless individuals prepare for the work world. It’s no secret that your expansive experience gives you a wide and beneficial perspective. But, letting them know that your only agenda is using that experience to enhance their goals could positively affect whether you’re considered for the job.

3. Let them know you’re not going anywhere.
When writing your cover letter, it’s good to assure the employer you’re not going anywhere. Some hiring managers may fear that with your experience they may fall victim to an employee “hit and run.” That is, you may depart prematurely if you get bored. Even worse, you might ask for money outside of their budget or suffer from a superiority complex. None of these behaviors are desired by employers. But, by highlighting your commitment to all previous jobs, you can express that they have nothing to worry about.

Remember, being overqualified for a job is not the end of the world. So by focusing on your passion in your cover letter, you can overshadow any doubts prospective employers may have regarding your sincerity and possibly secure that position you want.

About the Author
Heather Eagar is a former professional resume writer and is passionate about providing working professionals with current, reliable, and effective job search tools and information.

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