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  1. Career Advice
  2. Cover Letter
  3. How to write an effective cover letter when you’re overqualified for a job
How to write an effective cover letter when you’re overqualified for a job

How to write an effective cover letter when you’re overqualified for a job

Artwork by: Antonina Kasyanikova

  • Do overqualified candidates need a cover letter?
  • 7 Tips for writing a cover letter if you’re overqualified
  • Sample cover letter for overqualified job seekers
  • Key takeaways

When you’re applying for a job you’re overqualified for, you will want to spend some time writing a cover letter that highlights your most relevant skills while minimizing potential concerns. Read on to learn more about cover letters for overqualified candidates.

Whenever you review a job posting, you’re likely to feel that you’re underqualified for the job. However, in some cases, it’s evident that your education and professional experience puts you ahead of all other applicants. So, what do you do if you want to submit a cover letter for a job for which you’re clearly overqualified?

In this blog post, we’ll take a deep dive into:

  • Why overqualified candidates need a cover letter

  • How to write a cover letter if you’re overqualified

Do overqualified candidates need a cover letter?

A well-written cover letter is one of the best ways to introduce yourself to a hiring manager and share your value proposition. If you feel that your education, skills, and experience are more than what the employer is expecting, then the best way to communicate your overqualification to the employer is through your cover letter.   

Your cover letter is also an opportunity for you to add that “zing” to your job application. Hiring managers review several resumes in a day, and they often scan the document to look for a reason to disqualify the applicant. If you add a persuasive cover letter to your job application, you may end up making a solid impression on the hiring manager and increase your chances of getting hired.

7 Tips for writing a cover letter if you’re overqualified

Even though your overqualification is a testament to your professionalism, dedication, and skills, it’s important to present these traits in the right way to increase your chances of getting hired. Here are a few tips to consider when writing a cover letter:

1. Learn more about the employer

Like all written documents, conducting research is the first step towards crafting a cover letter. A good starting point for your research is the company’s culture, mission, and values, as well as the job role itself. 

Spend some time reviewing the company’s website and social pages to learn more about their core values. This will help you identify keywords you can use in your cover letter and focus on the right type of skills needed for the job. 

2. Think about the concerns involving your overqualification

Hiring managers are likely to view overqualified candidates as employees who will demand high salaries and won’t stick around for too long. A cover letter is the best way to address these concerns, as well as any other potential concerns the hiring manager is likely to face.

You can focus on your previous employment to let the hiring manager know that you’re dedicated and committed. Be clear about your priorities and discuss how the new job role is in line with your expectations and career plan.


Sample cover letter passage to address a shift from manager to hands-on contributor

After managing a team of 10 content creators, I would like to return to the role of a content creator. Creating content that speaks to people and highlights a client’s values is what gives me tremendous joy. I thrive while collaborating with my colleagues and clients to come up with new, creative ideas, and your company is offering just the opportunity I am looking for.

3. Show your interest in the job 

Let the employer know why you’re interested in the job and why you’ll likely be motivated at work every day. Talk about some of the specific job responsibilities you’re passionate about and how they fit into your career plan. Alternatively, you can focus on the company’s culture and values and let the employer know why you admire them.

4. Make a case for yourself

Your cover letter is an opportunity for you to make a compelling case for yourself: why are you the right candidate for this job, despite being overqualified? Since you’re likely stepping down from a senior position to a more junior role, you need to be honest about the reason for the switch. For instance, if you’re interested in the job because it’s closer to where you live, then it should be stated in your cover letter. 

5. Use the right tone of voice

While the size, format, and contents of a cover letter have changed over the years, the tone is still the same: formal. You want to make a solid first impression, which is why your cover letter should have a polite, respectful, and formal tone. Also, since you’re overqualified, you need to come across as humble and approachable. 

6. Focus on your past accomplishments

As an overqualified applicant, your greatest selling points are your past accomplishments. Review the job description carefully and select the achievements from your past employment that could be used to present you as an asset to the company. You can exclude any accomplishments that are not in line with the target job role.

When writing a cover letter, it’s important to maintain a balance between being persuasive and concise. Use only relevant information and omit any unnecessary details. Keep your cover letter to one page, and make sure to thoroughly edit and proofread the document before submitting it. 

7. Follow up with the employer

In the final paragraph of the cover letter, thank the hiring manager for reading the document and let them know that you’re willing to discuss your application further. After you’ve submitted your cover letter, send a polite email to the hiring manager and ask them if they need more information from you. This way, you can show your enthusiasm for the job role and let the hiring manager know that you’re available to address their questions and concerns. 

Sample cover letter for overqualified job seekers


[Your full name] [Your mailing address, phone number, email, and LinkedIn profile link]

[Date of application]

[Employer’s name and address]

Dear [Hiring manager’s name]:

I was excited to see an opportunity for [job role] at [Employer’s Name], and I would like to apply for the job. Having worked as a [your field of expertise], I believe my knowledge and skills will prove me an asset for your organization.

In my current role as [your existing job role], my duties include [insert some of your job responsibilities that align with the target job responsibilities]. I thoroughly enjoy my work and, over the course of my employment, I have been able to:

  • [List one relevant accomplishment from your previous employment].

  • [List one relevant accomplishment from your previous employment].

  • [List one relevant accomplishment from your previous employment].

At this point in my career, I want to bring my skills and passion to an organization with a mission and vision that aligns with my own. [Employer’s Name] would be the perfect opportunity. Thank you for reviewing my enclosed resume and cover letter. I hope to hear from you soon.

Sincerely, [Your name]

There’s no cookie-cutter approach to writing a cover letter. If you need a personalized cover letter that helps you put your best foot forward, check out our Cover Letter Builder 

Key takeaways

  1. One of the best ways to secure a job if you’re overqualified is to write a convincing cover letter to show your interest to the hiring manager.

  2. Your cover letter should state the reason you’re applying for the job and highlight your relevant experience and achievements.

  3. Make sure to do your research on the company and read the job description carefully to ensure your cover letter is as customized as possible.

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