Does your resume secretly have the words “overqualified,” “desperate” and “likely to be bored stiff within a month” written all over it? If you are aiming too low in your job search, chances are employers will read between the lines and notice – and move on to someone else.

In my experience there are two primary reasons why people aim low in their job search.

  1. They want to increase the number of opportunities. (After all, aren’t there more lower-level positions are available than higher-level ones.)
  2. They think it will raise their odds of being hired. (They believe they will appear more qualified compared to other applicants.)
  3. At first glance, it might seem that being overqualified would be a good thing. Wouldn’t an employer like to get somebody who is even better than the job description?

Overqualified candidates raise concerns in a hiring manager’s mind. Will the person insist on doing things his own way? Can she accept instruction from somebody who is her superior at the firm but her equal (or less) on paper? Will the worker jump ship as soon as she finds a better job? Will he constantly be jockeying for more money and a higher position instead of focusing on the job for which he was hired? Will he get frustrated with this lower position and quit?

It’s not just employers, though, who face risks; it’s job seekers, too.

The biggest danger is that you will not be hired if you shoot too low and then think to yourself, “Good grief. I can’t even land that crummy position. I must be a real loser!”

Other key dangers for the applicant include:

  • Losing money. Accepting a job that pays $10,000 less per year than you’re actually worth totals $200,000 in lost wages over 20 years.
  • Stifling progress. You’ll be less likely to be doing work that will allow you to grow and develop in your field.
  • Becoming bored: Frustration from job dissatisfaction can escalate stress and harm health and overall well-being.
  • Instead of downgrading a job search to try to increase the likelihood of landing a position, come up with a more fruitful plan of attack.

To maximize potential opportunities, spend more time researching employers and asking people in your network and at professional organizations for leads.

Clearly define your career aspirations. If you don’t know where you want to go, how will you determine how to get there? Know your strengths and weaknesses when you search for a new position, so you can avoid targeting jobs that are beneath your skills. Identify those things you do better than other people. These are the things you do that will set you apart from others and that make you special.

Above all, hang in there and show confidence. After all, if you don’t believe you’re worthy of the job you really want, how will anybody else?


Rick ChristensenRick Christensen: Director, Career Transition Practice

Rick has been a career consultant for almost 30 years, serving a very broad-based and diverse clientele. His specialties include effective group facilitation, one-on-one coaching and consultation at all levels including senior executives.

Rick’s passion is coaching individuals through career transitions, developing career management strategies and in identifying and sharpening competencies to open doors to new opportunities. His efforts have assisted thousands of individuals achieve their full potential.

Contact Rick at:

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