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Career Advice

Graduate CVs, How to avoid being overqualified

I suppose its quite a nice problem to have ‘being overqualified’.

Upon graduating mid the worst economic recession in decades, I had only one thing on my mind, one statement that burned in my brain and refused to quieten down until its demands be met “Get a Job, You must get a job”.935588_paper_money_people

It really was that urgent.   Having been rather profligate with my plentiful income as a student, I was now faced with a critical economic situation of my own.   To cut a long story short, it was fairly imperative that I find a job ASAP… something…anything!

But  therein lay a major problem.  That degree, which I had fought so hard to get, was now (as I saw it)  a major obstacle in my path, a beacon at the helm of my CV crying out “Don’t employ me, I’m a major flight risk!”.

Of course this was probably true and I, more than likely would have jumped ship the moment a more tempting one sailed by, but should that really have been reason to refuse me consideration?  Should being ‘overqualified’ ever be used as an excuse for refusing someone a position?

Some of you will agree and some of you won’t, but here at The Employable we believe in giving everyone the same chance, so we have popped together a few tips and advice on how to avoid being labelled overqualified.
Consider the placement of your education

If your degree is not necessarily relevant to the role for which you are applying, then it stands to reason that it shouldn’t be mentioned at the top of your CV.   Of course, having a degree is an achievement which your are probably quite proud of, but if you feel its presence at the beginning of your CV could be off-putting to a prospective employer, then you should move it further down and give priority to the skills and attributes which have been requested by the job specification.

By doing this, you are giving the employer the opportunity to consider you based on the qualities you have in relation to the requirements of the role, rather than be blinded by your education / experience.

You might like to take a look at our recent article on streamlining your CV for more tips


Include a cover letter cv image

The truth of the matter is, that it has become so simplistic  to apply for a job that employers are tempted to simply reject a candidate based on the notion that they don’t really want the job, or wouldn’t stay longer than it took to find something better.

A cover letter, can give you a great opportunity to remove this preconception from your application form / CV. You must make sure that you write a unique cover letter for each and every job that you apply for, since it will be blatantly obvious if you have created a ‘one size fits all’ cover letter.

Your cover letter should be effective in overcoming any prejudices that an employer might have about your educational background, and convince them, that despite their misgivings, you are worth moving to the next stage of the recruitment process.


Focus on relevant skills

As should always be the case when applying for a job, it is important that you make those skills and experiences which are most relevant to the duties and responsibilities of the role, prominent within your CV.   As well as moving the location of your education information, this can also mean a significant reshuffle of the other areas of your CV to make those you wish to highlight to the employer more obvious.

If your CV is particularly heavy on details, it can also be a good idea to cut out any information which is not relevant to the role you are applying for.  You must create a clear route through your CV for the employer, in which they can easily identify that you hold the necessary skills and experience to carry out the job well.


Be salary flexiblemoney

Money is a delicate subject in this country at the best of times, but in a case such as this you must be sure to let the employer know that you are flexible about the level of salary you are willing to accept.  If the salary of the role falls into the ‘low’ category, it is perfectly understandable that an employer might assume  that someone with a high level of education / specific experience might be expecting more.   You should make it very clear in your CV that you are willing to be flexible with regards to salary and that your previous experience / salary level, bears no relevance to your current requirements.


Show Your Loyalty

The question at the heart of the issues faced by people who are “overqualified” is loyalty i.e. the employer doubts your dedication to the role and assumes that you will not be a loyal member of their staff.

Whether this is the case or not is a separate issue, and you must take steps to demonstrate through your CV that you are a trustworthy and loyal employee, or risk being rejected by the employer.

If you have just left university, this can be difficult to do, as you are unlikely to have been employed in a business for any significant length of time before.  In this case you should include details of any sustained periods of voluntary work you have carried out, which will go at least some way to demonstrating that you are capable of being a loyal employee

Best of luck with your job search, we hope you have found our advice on how to avoid being overqualified useful!


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