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Should I Apply If I'm Overqualified?

Should I Apply If I'm Overqualified?

By Mark Swartz
Monster Senior Contributing Writer

You see them all the time: postings for jobs at a lower level than you’re used to. They can be tempting because the role they describe is right up your alley. Plus you easily meet—in fact far exceed—the stated qualifications.
So there it is, a job you’re perfect for. Except compared to what you’ve had before it pays less, or is a step down in title. Should you bother applying for it anyway?

The Upside Of Jobs You’re Overqualified For

There is much to be said for working in a job that’s somewhat below your usual level. Here are some of the main benefits:
  • You can do the work with relative ease
  • It may be less stressful than a job that constantly challenges you
  • You’re almost assured of performing well at work
  • Takes pressure off from having to keep job hunting for something more at your level
  • You might have a chance to get promoted back up to your proper rank and salary over time
From the employer’s perspective, your candidacy can be seen in a positive light if you can show them that you’re able to…
  • Start contributing right away: there’s no need for you to spend much time (or money) getting trained
  • Teach other employees on-the-job and be available as a support resource
The Downside Of Jobs You’re Overqualified For
Not all is sunshine and roses in a job that’s below your customary level. Some of the possible negatives are as follows:
In addition to the above, employers could be sceptical of inviting you in for an interview. They may suspect that you are frantic about getting a job; that you’ve only applied to this one as a desperate measure. Or that if they hire you, you’ll leave at the first sign of a better offer elsewhere.  
When It Makes Sense To Apply Even If Overqualified

You’ve seen some of the pro’s and con’s of applying to a job posting for which you are overqualified. When, then, is it most appropriate for you to go ahead and submit your application to these types of positions?

For sure if you are willing to accept a decrease in pay and title, yet are still committed to doing your best at work. Employers are always on the lookout for enthusiastic, competent, engaged candidates who they think will be loyal.

Also for certain if you are no longer all that concerned about promotions or higher status. This could be the case if you’re nearing retirement and simply want to find work that you enjoy doing. Or maybe you’ve been slightly injured or have an illness that slows you down somewhat, but you want (or need) to keep earning a decent pay check.

On the flip side, you may want to think twice about applying for such jobs just because you’re fed up with the strains of job hunting. Same goes if you only intend to stay briefly, like when you’re really hoping to get a better offer somewhere else.

First of all, there’s no telling when your dream job will come along: you may end up being trapped in your dead end “bridging” position for what feels like an eternity. Then if you leave a bridging job too soon, or do this often, it will make your resume look choppy and perhaps raise red flags with future employers. On top of this are the added difficulties of job searching while working full-time.

Making A Go Of It

Are you the kind of person who would thrive in a job you’re overqualified for? If so, be prepared to take a cut in pay, have your title reduced, report to someone no more qualified than you are, and do work that may offer little opportunity for growth.

Not everyone finds these conditions appealing. If you’re among those who don’t, consider staying clear of postings that are lower than your preferred level.

But for folks who are seeking work they can do fairly easily, at a pace that’s manageable (and for pay they can live with), then go ahead and apply even if you’re clearly overqualified. The boss who hires you will be getting more than they bargained for. Meanwhile you’ll be earning a living, and hopefully enjoying your workday for real.