From the Forum – Job Application Advice

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Job Application Advice:

“I am thinking of leaving my job and applying for a short-term position outside the DC area. I’m way over-qualified for the position, but am willing to take a lower paying and lower responsibility job for the opportunity to get out of my job and new location for 6-12 mo. Should I state all this on my letter so that the recruiter knows that I know what I’m getting into? What else could I do to get my resume/app looked at?”

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10 Comment

  • “Dear Recruiter, I know I’m way too good for this job, but I am so desperate to get away from my current employer that I’ll do anything.”
    No, you should not–it will make you sound uppity; like you aren’t the sort of employee who will stick around; and that your application is fueled more by a desire to get out of your current rut, rather than bc you are truly excited and motivated by the new opportunity.

  • I think you should at the very least explain how you could use the temporary position to gain experience to pivot away from your job. Like, what do you want to do after? Is this temp job something that would be built on in the future? Otherwise, it seems that you’ll come off as a) lazy b) entitled (over qualified, not personally) c) taking the position away from a potential applicant who is eager to work at the job, not just escape what I’m guessing is shite situation. Good luck either way!

  • If your current job is running you ragged and the new position is more in line with where you want your career to go, good on you! I know plenty of people who have left high-paying (and high-stress) contracting positions to take positions at NGOs and small nonprofits, and been very happy about the move.
    As for your cover letter, I think you could address the issue, though being very delicate about it. I’d say something like “I am looking to change careers/shift my subject area focus to [X] because I respect your organization’s values and culture. I’m excited about the prospect of learning new skills and applying myself to this temporary position,” or whatever is most accurate to your particular situation. Keep it simple and don’t go into a sob story with the recruiter–just say that you’re looking to change careers and that this temporary position is exactly the kind of change of pace/experience you’re looking for

    • +1. Good advice here.

    • Another +1. I think LMFB’s advice above is bad: can’t speak for employers in general, but I get nervous when job applicants I screen are super overqualified (NGO sector, if that matters), and would definitely want to see a logical, though delicately-worded, rationale in the cover letter. Talk about the skills you’re hoping to acquire, and why you think this job would help you with that.

  • justinbc

    I would not state those things.

  • Is this job actually temporary or are you just not looking to stay past 12 mos.? If it’s the former you can talk about why you want something short, but if it’s an arbitrary timeframe you’re setting for yourself, don’t mention it. I don’t care how qualified or overqualified you are, I don’t want someone who’s going to treat the job I offer them like summer camp. I would talk about why you want the job and what experiences you hope to get out of it.

  • I tend to think that going for a job that is below your skill level (voluntarily) is a bad idea. Depending on how dramatic a drop-off it is in skill level, I believe the impact can be anywhere ranging from a warning sign to a deal-breaker to recruiters (“Why would X person do this for 6-12 months, what led them to make such a seemingly desperate decision?”).

    I think if you take the right approach however, you could spin this in a way to make your resume more interesting. Instead of taking a random job to tide you over for a period between leaving a job you hate and finding a new career-oriented job in a new location, it can be a job meant to enhance your life in different aspects. How much better does it sound to tell a recruiter that “I took this lower paying job with a non-profit because I wanted to do something to increase my involvement with people that are in need, while I still can.” I think a similar narrative can be used for pursuing a passion of yours as well.

  • Hi I’m the poster of the question and thanks to all who responded and provided feedback.

    Just to clarify the job I want to apply for is only a 6 mo position, I would love for it to be longer but 6 mo is what they need. I am interested in it b/c it would take me to another part of the world and would challenge me physically/mentally.

    I think my skills would work for them (organization, planning, report writing); but they only require someone with Admin Assist skills, no college or masters (which I have) is required.

    thanks all

  • Jealous of you getting away from this cesspool. Best of luck.

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