Prepare for overqualified questions

Posted 11/15/17

Finding work after 50 can be a challenge. One stumbling block is when potential employers say, “You’re overqualified for this job.” That’s a valid point for most employers. Crafting a response to this concern is crucial. The answer can mean the difference in getting hired or getting passed over.

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Prepare for overqualified questions

Posted

Finding work after 50 can be a challenge. One stumbling block is when potential employers say, “You’re overqualified for this job.” That’s a valid point for most employers. Crafting a response to this concern is crucial. The answer can mean the difference in getting hired or getting passed over.

Many of the candidates in my program retired from high-paying jobs to enjoy “the good life.” Some were business owners, some were craftsmen, and some were executives. What they learned is that retirement is not what they expected.

Cost-of-living increases driven by skyrocketing healthcare costs are to blame. Retirement savings dwindle faster than most of them anticipated.

The fun begins when these mature jobseekers start looking for new opportunities. Scanning the list of job duties, they realize they could do the job in their sleep. Once they find an interesting job opening, they write amazing resumes. During interviews, hiring managers may ask questions about skills and experience. The interviewer quickly learns that the candidate is qualified. The next question is often, “Aren’t you overqualified for this position?”

Successful managers learn to look for specific traits in job candidates: “Do you have the knowledge, skills, experience, and temperament to do this job.” But they also look for employees that will be around for a while. Someone who might get bored and leave after a few months is a reason to take a “hard pass.”

Getting new employees on the payroll is expensive. Training and orientation takes time and money. Mistakes in this area are costly. Potential loss of sales and decreased productivity hurt the bottom line. Most managers are hypersensitive to this fact. They do everything in their power to ensure they make the right hiring choices.

Older workers re-entering the workplace should prepare to answer the over qualification question.

An approach I used when I started looking for a job after retirement was telling my story. In my cover letter, I wrote that when I retired, my responsibilities were wide-ranging and my stress level was off the charts. I explained that I was ready to become part of a team where I could do work that was not so stressful. I went on to say that my life situation changed after retirement and I no longer needed the amount of money I once did.

The hiring manager smiled when I told him that spending half the day in my pajamas wasn’t as much fun as I had imagined.

Once I landed my first job after retirement, I found myself mentoring younger team members. Older workers have knowledge and experience they use to help younger workers with complicated issues. It’s a win-win situation.

The challenge for older job candidates is not convincing the employers that they can do the job, but that they can bring value to the team.

Rick Watson is the coordinator of BACK TO WORK 50+ at Bevill State Community College. You can contact him via email at rick.watson@bscc.edu. You can register for a free workshop by calling 855-850-2525.