There are many who fall in the overqualified and over 40 category—or the double-whammy category. Although there are many industries where this is becoming prevalent due to business closures and company downsizing, we can take the auto industry as one example.
When both Chrysler and General Motors filed for bankruptcy restructuring, the courts did allow them to cut what were called “useless assets." These assets were, in fact, dealership franchise points and many dealers were forced to close when franchises were pulled. Most of the owners of these dealerships (the dealers) were over 40 and when facing unemployment, many of them turned to the industry they knew best—the auto dealership industry.
Job opportunities for former dealers who now sought out jobs as service managers, service writers, and even salespeople were not abundant, and many found themselves on unemployment or were forced to use any retirement funds saved to continue to pay personal bills, keep food on the table, and a roof over their heads. After all, why hire a 52-year old former dealer who may want to over-manage and be pushy over the new, fresh and young person who can be molded to fit the company’s vision and goals? The latter category usually wins. This is typical for any industry.
In an age when advertising companies have decided the over 45 age group doesn’t really count for much anymore, it does give one pause about finding a new job late in their career life.
Tips for the Overqualified Job Seeker
Here, submitting online resumes can also hurt because the ones offered by top people full of experience won’t win. HR departments also look at why they should hire people trained to perform at high levels when the jobs they have opened may not interest the overqualified.
Recruiters and interviewers may ask blunt question like “Won’t you be bored with this job?" or “Are you looking for a long-term job or is this a stepping stone until something better comes along?" These questions are hard to answer and beyond that, you may indeed be looking for a “temporary" career and HR recruiters need to find ways to root out those they feel are risky. If, on the other hand you realize you are overqualified, you need to find ways to get the message across by using positive “can do" statements on what your years of experience can bring to the job and the company.
When you know you are applying for a job for which you're overqualified, revisit your resume. Your mission statement may need a little playing down while still remaining effective. If your mission was to be an executive vice president and you’re applying for assistant executive jobs, you need to say that in your mission statement: “To utilize my years of experience in the marketing field to provide innovation, support and to become part of a productive and knowledgeable marketing team." This sounds better and plays down your over-qualifications.
You can also determine whether a chronological resume is best or if you want to choose the reverse resume, but it’s best to stick with the chronological because it lets the recruiters know what you know right up front.
Above all, you may need to learn to settle for less money, position and benefits. Once you get your foot in the door and have the chance to prove yourself, if you follow company policies and procedures and also offer your innovated and “experienced" ideas, you will be recognized as long as you don’t charge in like a lion. You shouldn’t be too much like a lamb either. Be confident in your abilities and when you do find a job take advantage of any opportunities that come around where you may be able to mentor those who have less experience. Overqualified doesn’t mean you’re not hiring material, but a little patience and perseverance is necessary when job hunting. Never use the same resume and cover letter for every job you apply for—modify them both for the job opportunity at hand.