Overqualified but want the job
November 4, 2012 11:35 AM   Subscribe

Overqualified but want the job: How do I get an interview?

I've read previous questions about the "overqualified" curse, but I'm hoping to get some more specific advice. I have been working in my current job since July. I really want to leave it: I don't want to work full time (my son is 2 and I want to spend more time with him), I don't like working from home, the job involves travel (which I don't want to do), the job is really stressing me out, etc.

I found a part-time administrative assistant job at a local organization (where I've worked before, but in a different department). I've never been an admin but my jobs have always had an administrative component, and I don't mind that kind of work. (I'm very organized and like being that way.) The job requires a college degree (which I have, and also a master's) and one year of admin experience, but I have about 10 years of communications experience.

I want this job because:
-This org gives part-time employees some benefits, which is rare around here.
-It's 20 hours a week, which I want.
-It pays pretty well.
-It's a job where you can leave work at work (good when you have a toddler at home).
-The org is 10 mins. from my house.
-I have friends who work at this org.
-It doesn't involve a lot of writing, which I need a break from.
-The field interests me (women's health/research).

I do very well in interviews, so my goal right now is to just get an interview. I think I should leave my M.A. off my resume, but what else should I do? I'm thinking functional resume, for one. My current title is "senior manager of blah blah blah," but I don't manage anyone and the title doesn't really fit. My previous job was "coordinator of blah blah blah." I'm worried that if they see the senior title, they'll drop my application in the trash. (If I leave it off, it'll look like I haven't worked since June.) But I don't want a job like mine -- I want a job with less responsibility and fewer hours, mostly because my son is my priority right now. Help?
posted by trillian to Work & Money (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I wouldn't leave stuff off your resume--I would, however, rewrite it so that is aimed directly at the requirements of this particular job. I would also write an excellent cover letter that mentioned your desire to transition into part-time work.
posted by box at 11:51 AM on November 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

This sounds like what cover letters were made for. I would leave out the stuff that shows you're intentionally underachieving but emphasize your objectives and other reasons for wanting to work there for the long term.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 11:54 AM on November 4, 2012

This question pretty much outlines a perfect argument for giving you this job. You may be passed over because the hiring managers think you'll leave it for "something better," so that's the biggest hurdle. I would be very specific about the fact that you want this job for at least "X number of years, for the following reasons _________," to allay any of those kinds of fears.
posted by xingcat at 11:55 AM on November 4, 2012

I am all about being candid at the cover letter stage and not leaving things off of a resume. I don't think removing things from a resume and dodging the potential red flags is the best way to go, especially when you have friends working there and potentially want to be there for some time. When you know there's a part of your work history or experience that will raise questions (like "is she just going to leave when she finds another management job?) go ahead and answer those up front.

In your case I might say around paragraph 2-ish of the cover letter, "You will find on my enclosed resume that I have management-level experience, and you may wonder why I am seeking an administrative assistant position. I have great respect for your organization on the whole, and the details of this position are exactly what I am looking for at this stage of my career and family life. This is a position I can see myself in for the long term."
posted by dayintoday at 11:57 AM on November 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would leave out the stuff

Urgh, from the cover letter, if that's not clear. Your resume should have every relevant item from your educational and work history, but your cover letter should not suggest you're "taking a break" by getting this job.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 12:00 PM on November 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

more importantly than all of this is to make sure your friends understand your plan and intentions if they're in a position to put in a good word for you. I would depend on that more then going into too much detail about you situation in the formal letter. I think these things might be best spoken than written, emphasis on the might. I'm not sure, just throwing the idea out here for you. I would feel uncomfortable hiring anyone who had put in writing that they essentially would normally see this position beneath them, even if it should be obvious by their credentials.
posted by saraindc at 12:30 PM on November 4, 2012

-I have friends who work at this org. [...] I'm worried that if they see the senior title, they'll drop my application in the trash.

Can your friends at the organization to deliver the resume and impress upon the hiring manager what a great hiring opportunity this is for them?
posted by Mike1024 at 1:05 PM on November 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Assuming you get to the interview you'll want to be careful to not over-impress there as well - if you dress and present yourself as a well-educated executive your interviewer won't be able to picture you happily doing the admin work you're gunning for. I've wowed my way in interviews out of jobs I wanted twice, and those were for lateral moves I was only slightly overqualified for.
posted by Blue Meanie at 1:20 PM on November 4, 2012

As you have friends there, I think it would be weird if you left off your Master's and your current job.

Your cover letter and interview should emphasise that you're making a career change into the field of women's health and research / whilst you love writing, you're interested in exploring something new / etc.

Career changes generally come with the understanding that you have to work at levels below what you're currently working at.

Overall, they just need to be very sure you'll be happy doing admin and that you'll stick around for as long as possible.
posted by heyjude at 1:44 PM on November 4, 2012

If you have friends there, call the most reliable one and explain about how perfect this job would be for you, how you really want the part time setup and don't want to travel, how much you love the org and have been wanting to come back in some way. Ask the friend if they can give the res to the hiring manager (you should figure out who this is, not ask your friend to figure it out for you, but it's fine to tell them you think it's X, could they confirm this?)

What you want is for your friend to vouch for you and verbally puts the hiring manager at ease re the doubts your resume raises. So you want your friend not only to give the hiring manager the resume, but to say "hey my friend Trillian is really smart and responsible and would totally commit to the part time thing, it's what she prefers, she'd be the perfect hire for this."

If your former supervisor at this org knows the hiring manager for the role, you might want to go through her; her word might mean more than if your friends are lower on the totem.
posted by fingersandtoes at 3:21 PM on November 4, 2012

Don't leave stuff off your resume. This is a recession economy. As an example, someone I know is applying for attorney positions in the city government here. It's not a super high paying or high powered job. He is "over" qualified for the job, but in this economy, he is just one of the top 5 contenders and likely won't get the job. The others in the top 5 include an attorney from literally the best law firm in the city, another attorney who has done the exact same job in another city for 10 years, etc. They got a couple hundred applications.

So, leave the Master's on, and everything else good about you. And use your connections to try to get your foot in the door for an interview. I think your list of wants (I want to work part time, have benefits, work close to home, etc.) comes off as a bit arrogant considering that a lot of very qualified people are out of work. I think you'd do best to go into the interview and focus on how motivated you are to contribute to their organization.
posted by kellybird at 3:55 PM on November 4, 2012

I think your list of wants (I want to work part time, have benefits, work close to home, etc.) comes off as a bit arrogant considering that a lot of very qualified people are out of work.

I don't agree, most of what keeps someone in a job is how well it enables them to pursue the life they want (that applies to those who want to be workaholics too). Part-time jobs are highly sought after by those who need to balance paid work with other stuff and the hiring manager will expect applicants from that pool. S/he is more likely to consider an over-qualified candidate who wants to work in this way than an over-qualified candidate who is only there because they need a bridging post between what's available now and what will blossom once the recession eases.

You're clearly in it for the long-term, and admin thrives on stable processes so unless this is a start-up there's a lot of benefit to hiring a very qualified person who is motivated towards perfecting and maintaining the status quo.
posted by freya_lamb at 5:05 AM on November 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you, all!
posted by trillian at 11:47 AM on November 6, 2012

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