Play up right skills to get the job

IT CAN be frustrating when you are looking for a job and you are constantly told you are over qualified. Even though you really want the job and would bring your best self to work, prospective employers do not think you could seriously want a job you are too qualified for.

You may have legitimate reasons for applying for a job that you are overqualified for. You may want to acquire some new skills that can later help you move forward in your career. You may want a slower pace of work to further your education, or it may be a way for you to spend more time with your family.

Here are tips to stay the course in your job search.


A resume gets you an interview and an interview lands you the job. You cannot land a job, if your resume screams: "I'm over qualified", filtering you out. Scale down your resume to prevent a hiring manager from overlooking you because of your extensive experience.

You do not want to lie on your resume, but if it spans more than 15 years, it makes sense to eliminate a position or two. Be strategic when deciding how to scale down your resume. For instance, you would raise a red flag if you started off your career as a director: Make sure that your resume tells a story and follows a logical sequence.

When revamping your resume, remember to focus more on skills and accomplishment than on job titles. Use the words from the job advertisement to match your skills with what the employer wants. De-emphasise your skills that are not required for the job.

If you are consistently told that you are over qualified, tap into your network of contacts to open doors for you. A recommendation could go a long way. You could also get the opportunity to speak to the hiring manager or another person of influence.

So start a dialogue to discover what the perfect candidate looks like, then pitch yourself. Explain why you want the job: be honest and upfront.


If you get to the interview stage, ensure that you are not overlooked for the job because you are seen as over qualified. It is often said that if you fail to plan, you are preparing to fail.

Prepare before the interview to handle objections to hiring you because the hiring manager feels you are over qualified. Some of these objections may be disguised, so pay attention to the hiring manager's non-verbal communication such as facial expression and body language.

Objections could really mean, "You won't be happy here", or "You won't be here long because this is a stepping stone for you", or "You are after the hiring manager's job".

Prepare a response that will address each of the objections, and discuss them before the hiring manager raises them.

For instance, you could say: "If there's any concern that I won't be happy here, that cannot be further from the truth." Then state what you have researched about the company (or role), and why you would like to apply yourself to adapting to the new skills needed for the role.

If you have new training, skills and certifications that show that you are up-to-date, talk about that in the interview.

Demonstrate a positive attitude by showing that you are interested and enthusiastic about the new position. That said, do not overwhelm or overload the interviewer with your vast experience. Certainly, do not lie to talk about non-existent skills.

In the end, the hiring manager wants to know that taking you on board would not be a lost cause in short-term investment (in orientation and training), but that given your long-time experience, you will be an asset to the company.

This article was contributed by career consultancy Right Management and recruitment company ManpowerGroup Singapore.

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