Dear Dharma,

I have been unemployed for several months following a layoff at my last job. I know the type of work that I would like to be doing, and have had several interviews, but can’t seem to land a job.

The consistent feedback from these potential employers is that I am too qualified… Maybe I am too good in my interviews, maybe I am coming across too confident, but all I want to do is work for these great companies…

Should I water down my experiences and resume? How can I show potential employers that I am qualified, and not over qualified?

I just want to work…

Employable yet Unemployed

Dear Employable,

Gah – I often wish that people would include a phone number with their submissions, so I could reach out and ask a few questions of my own.  An unrealistic wish, I recognize, one which sneers in the face of all the world’s privacy policies, but my wish nonetheless.

My biggest question here is what kind of jobs are you applying for?  Are they a) in the same vein of what you have always been doing or b) are you moving in a different direction?  (As in to say, you’ve been a brain surgeon for the past 10 years, but now you’ve decided to branch out and try being a… well, frick, pretty much anything else, and you’d be over qualified, right?)

If it’s a), then I’m stumped.  You should be exactly the right amount of qualified to do the type of work you have always been doing, if those are the types of jobs you are applying for.

Have you considered getting career counselling?  This would involve an outside person going over your resume, and then identifying some areas that might be contributing to the issues you are having.   I think it’s got to be worth a try, right?  Because the chances of anything changing if you don’t make a change are pretty slim.

And career counselling could come from a former co-worker or mentor… it doesn’t necessarily have to be an expensive path.

If we are looking at b) then the magic is all going to be in your cover letter.  You need to highlight the fact that you are moving away from your regular realm of expertise and are looking for an opportunity to take things in a different direction.  Focus on what you find appealing about their job posting and their company and stress your enthusiasm for said new direction.

Ugh.  I really hope this helps you.  If I’ve gone totally in the wrong direction, please feel free to tell me so in the comments below and I am happy to provide a do-over!



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Categories: Advice, Co-workers, Work

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