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Are you overqualified? Do these 5 things instead.
How to handle a common - but still painful - form of job rejection.
Someone asked me the other day what to do when every job you apply for keeps rejecting you for being over-qualified:
Look, I get it. Ph.D. here. 👋🏽 Being over-qualified is a drag.
But here’s the thing: they're right.
You are over-qualified. And they're rightly scared. That phrase indicates that the person doing the hiring thinks there’s a major disconnect between what you’re capable of and what you’re settling for.
If anything, it’s a vote of confidence in you and a subtle reminder that you’re under-selling yourself.
‘You’re over-qualified’ simply means ‘You’re worth more than this - what are you even doing here?’
Your first instinct will be to get pissed that someone else is deciding what you should be worth rather than letting you make that decision.
That’s a perfectly normal reaction. It’s also counterproductive in the long run.
There's no need for you to force a situation that won't be a good fit for either party.
Here’s what to do instead:
#1 Explore global markets
A lot of the time, ‘over-qualified’ is a euphemism for ‘You’ll leave us soon, and we also don’t think we can afford you.’
I can already hear you say, ‘But that’s not their concern! I’m willing to take a pay cut!’ and you’d be right.
But perception matters, and rather than trying to fight the perception of someone who thinks you’re worth more than what they’re prepared to pay you, leverage that perception to find better clients, markets, or companies.
A lot of the time, these remote clients and companies operate on a global scale and money is not an issue for them - they’re willing to pay for top talent.
That’s you, fam.
If you play your cards right, you might end up working for wonderful companies with a remote-first culture.
Apply for as many jobs as you can, send in a killer cover letter and CV, and remember that it’s a numbers game.
The more jobs you apply for, the more likely you are to land the right one.
See my post on how to improve your CV for more tips.
#2 Fix your website and portfolio
At a certain level, you’re hired not so much based on what you know but on what you’ve done.
This is where having a website with a visual or printed portfolio can come in handy.
Compile all the previous work you’ve done into a nice PDF and put it on your website, or create a special portfolio section with all your past accomplishments.
You can use Canva to create a PDF portfolio for free.
If video is your thing, ensure your YouTube channel is ready to sell your story. Just get visible online.
See my post on boosting your online visibility for more tips.
#3 Create content
The more you post about your acquired expertise, the more likely you are to be seen by those who need - and can afford - your services.
The best jobs and gigs are never advertised - they're concluded over a DM, email, or phone call.
LinkedIn is a good place to start connecting with people in your industry and posting content that’s relevant to them.
There are pertinent questions that you can answer based on your experience.
What are the current challenges in your field?
How can your target customers solve their problems using readily-available tools?
What's the best way for new practitioners to break into your industry?
Use your channels to answer those questions - whether that’s your social media profiles, blog, email newsletter, podcast, or YouTube channel.
Don't wait for someone to give you permission to apply your knowledge in the workplace.
Create content and own its distribution - and reap all the rewards.
#4 Join the right communities and engage
The single biggest lever of my career was finding and joining the right communities of like-minded professionals.
Is there a WhatsApp group of industry practitioners you're part of?
Which relevant events are you attending or hosting?
Get involved in these communities to get access to new opportunities. People hire within their networks.
#5 Think like a consultant
To make money while you wait for your dream job, put together a few product or service packages you can offer to clients.
For example, if you work in content creation, comms, and PR, your service packages might include social media management, image consulting, brand audits, speechwriting, copywriting, and other related services.
Put all those years of study to good use.
Use your online channels and communities to position yourself as an authority on these subjects.
As a consultant, being over-qualified is always a good thing - you can charge more for your expertise.
Again, your credentials are not the problem - you’re just playing in the wrong markets.
Let your credentials work for you
It’s a special kind of torture being told that the years of study you undertook have now made you unemployable.
But all it really means is that there’s a value gap between what you’re currently settling for and what you could potentially earn.
Other people can see your potential, so they’re calling you out on it.
With a little bit of thinking and solid brand positioning, you can fully leverage the credentials you have and make serious bank.
Stop sleeping on yourself. Money is infinite.
Till next time,
In my last post, I discussed 11 ways to reinvest in your business for long-term growth. Read it:
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