Writing a Cover Letter When You're Overqualified

Highlight similar jobs you've held when you're overqualified for a job. Image Copyright Getty Images Ryan McVay

What can you do if you're overqualified for a job, but still want to apply? When the job market is difficult, there may be a shortage of jobs that you are qualified for and it can make sense to expand your job search. That said, you'll need to carefully craft a cover letter so your application will be considered.

Employers are notorious for discarding candidates who appear to be overqualified for a job.

They are afraid that the person will be bored or unmotivated and might move on to another job in short order. It's important to construct your cover letter and resume to counteract these perceptions.

Tips for Writing a Cover Letter When You're Overqualified

A key factor in getting your cover letter noticed is to highlight any similar jobs you have held even if the position was not your most recent. You will need to point out why those comparable jobs were satisfying and successful experiences for you. This will show potential employers that despite being overqualified, you don't necessarily plan to move on to a more challenging role in the near future.

For example, take the case of someone who is applying for sales assistant job, but has worked most recently as an account manager or salesperson. If they have had enjoyable jobs as an assistant in the past and excelled in that role, it will be critical to highlight those experiences.

Perhaps the individual now knows that she prefers organization and detail to persuasion and can make the case by focusing on the responsibilities of a sales assistant versus that of an account manager or sales person.

Write a Targeted Letter

A one-size-fits-all cover letter will not do in this instance.

It will be critical to analyze the skills, interests and assets that an individual would need to possess in order to excel in the target job. The applicant must then clearly convey with concrete examples how those assets have enabled him or her to achieve success in past jobs, volunteer work or course projects. Here's how to write a targeted cover letter and how to match your qualifications to a job.

Follow Up

Follow up communications after the interview should ooze with enthusiasm for the actual content of the job. If possible ask a former colleague who supervised you in a similar role to make an unsolicited recommendation call (or send an email) to decision makers. Here's how to follow up.

Showing your enthusiasm for the role will help convince the interviewer that this isn't a desperate measure and that you really do want the job. The unsolicited recommendation call or email will also demonstrate your interest in the role.

It's easy to be overlooked when you're overqualified for a position but by putting a little extra effort into your application, you can show the interviewer that your interest is sincere and not fleeting or desperate.

Read More: Cover Letter Examples | Top 10 Cover Letter Tips | How to Answer Interview Questions About Being Overqualified