Career: Not overqualified — just well prepared

Leverage your hard-earned skills and experience without being dismissed as overqualified.


Filed to: Job search

Overqualified for job
Photo by Montana Pritchard

Have you ever sensed you were overlooked for a job because you were perceived to be overqualified? This is a tenuous position to be in, as we’re all continuously striving to gain skills, knowledge and experience, right? How do golf and turf industry professionals strike the balance between demonstrating growth and competence while not overplaying their hand?

The following job search strategies can help you combat being pigeonholed as overqualified as you’re making an impression on a potential employer.

Express genuine interest in the specific job you’re targeting

This is the most important tactic to deploy in all phases of your job search. If a candidate has the knowledge and experience to secure a higher-paying position or better job title than the job for which the golf facility is hiring, there could be an underlying tension in the mind of the hiring manager. Is the candidate just seeking this job as a placeholder until the next move?

It is incumbent upon you to address that notion by clearly conveying thoughtful and meaningful reasons why you want that particular job at that particular golf facility. Starting with your cover letter and all the way through to your closing interview statement, counter any hidden doubts your audience may have about your sincere desire to be in that exact role, location, facility and work environment. Make sure they know their job is your first choice — not plan B.

Emphasize skills and results related to the target audience’s focus and priorities

More is not necessarily better when it comes to listing skills, experience and professional qualities. Conduct extensive research about your target job facility, the role and the hiring committee. Based on that research, select three highlights in your career that pertain to the target audience’s priorities, and then emphasize those points — don’t present a list of, say, 20 points.

If you have a list of 20 items, the three highlights you’re desperately wanting the committee to notice will likely be lost in the flood of information in your message, and, in turn, you may cast yourself as overqualified.

For example, if you were part of the construction and grow-in of golf courses several years ago, you don’t need to accentuate that experience if you are pursuing a job at a private golf club that recently remodeled its course and is now focusing on member services and retention.

Demonstrate your understanding of the challenges and goals of that specific golf facility rather than just stating everything you bring to the table. Connect your past successes to future wins in the areas your target employer cares about. Don’t just offer a rundown of past accomplishments — explain how these would benefit your target employer.

Be open about your salary requirements and career goals

It’s all right to mention the elephant in the room: Yes, you are aware of the salary range of the position, and yes, you are comfortable with it. If you weren’t, then you wouldn’t have applied, correct? This point may seem obvious, but I think saying it aloud can be a powerful deterrent against any misconceptions that you’re overqualified.

Tell your career journey and how it leads to the role for which this particular golf facility is hiring. Your career encompasses more than just paychecks; it includes being part of a team and helping a golf facility attain its goals and provide a great product for its customers.

I recommend threading your message of why you want to work there into your narrative during any discussion of salary, to bolster decision-makers’ belief in your potential loyalty and genuine desire to be part of their team, regardless of your salary history.

Finally, be encouraged! Acquiring skills, knowledge and experience is a valuable commodity for professionals in the golf and turf industry. With these three strategies, you can leverage your hard-earned skills and experience to secure whatever job you think is right for you and your career goals.

Carol D. Rau, PHR, is a career consultant with GCSAA and the owner of Career Advantage, a career consulting firm in Lawrence, Kan., specializing in golf and turf industry careers. GCSAA members receive complimentary résumé critiques from Rau and her team; résumé, cover letter and LinkedIn creation for a reduced member rate; and interview preparation and portfolio consultation.