For some of us there comes a moment in life where we just want slow down and enjoy an existence outside of work. Yet with our jobs demanding so much of our time and attention, the long hours and high level responsibilities don’t allow us the time we would like to focus on other interests. So we decide we need to climb a rung or two down the corporate ladder. With so much experience under our belts, how do we convince an employer to hire us for a role we are clearly overqualified for?
Often we automatically think we have to dumb ourselves down to land a job with less accountability. But do we? Really? You may omit key details from your resume, tantalising a would be employer with just enough information about your working history to spark an interest and gain an interview, however the intuitive employer will soon figure you out when they go fossicking into your history. Your referees alone will allude to your past working successes so soon details about your credentials and achievements will emerge. And when it’s been revealed that you are hiding your past, employers become suspicious.
The fear for an employer considering a candidate who is looking to reverse their career is that they are not going to be happy in the long term. The employer needs to be reassured, or rather convinced, that you are not going to leave them high and dry after only a few months. You must be honest about why you are looking to downsize your career. You can achieve this by addressing it in your letter of application, as opposed to the somewhat shifty tactic of bastardising your resume. Clearly state that you understand that you are overqualified for the position on offer, however you are seeking a greater balance in your life and this role offers the ideal opportunity to achieve just that. The astute employer will understand the benefits of hiring someone with experience that far exceeds the demands of the job role, so you may just get the call up for an interview.
If you been lucky enough to be afforded an interview for a role that is clearly below your capabilities, don’t make the mistake of believing that you have allayed your potential employers fears to rest with a few sentences of explanation in your cover letter. Your desire to downgrade will be a deliberate point of conversation in the interview. And you’d better be prepared to answer a myriad of question on the subject. This means that you need to not only understand why you want the role, but must also clearly demonstrate that you are fully prepared and comfortable in embracing a less challenging role. In determining that you really are ready to step down, you will have had to have asked yourself if the role is really going to fulfil your needs. I mean, what really is the problem with your current role? The hours are too long? You’re being micromanaged? Your co-workers or manager are not a joy to work alongside? If this is the case, then it’s not the role that is the issue for you, it’s the working environment. So rather than focusing on your responsibilities, you need to focus on finding a job that meets your career needs.
Our job needs evolve as we journey through different stages of life, but the career adjustment you seek may be attributable to a lack of job satisfaction in your current role. If this is the case, your search for a new job should be focused on ‘fit’. Perhaps you need to move from the corporate world to the not-for-profit sector. Still offering job stimulation the pressures are different and may be more suitable to your working, and life style. Most of us retain the jobs we have because they allow us to pursue the lifestyle we want. Whether we are high achieving workaholics or have three little ones to take care of, our jobs generally fit around our lifestyle choices.
It is a common scenario for employees to seek out positions below their qualifications and experience. And the key to successfully achieving a move down the chain of command is to be honest. But if you find that rather than stepping down you actually need to wind down, then don’t close the door on the possibility of a sideways shift to a workplace that is more suited to your working style. That go-getter spark may still exist, it’s just suffocating under the management style of your current workplace environment. There are many ways to break free of a job you don’t enjoy. Consider all possibilities.