Pitching your motivations for descending the career ladder

Ange Connor

There are many reasons why you might apply for a position that is a step down from your most recent position. For pretty much every job I recruit for there are always applications from job seekers who appear to be over qualified for the role. If you are one of these job seekers, the difficulty is often in conveying to the hiring manager or recruiter your motivations for applying for the role. It can be a major frustration as a job seeker and I hear feedback regularly from candidates that they have been told they were unsuccessful because they were over qualified. The challenge you have if you are a job seeker who is applying for a lower level role is convincing the recruiter that your motivations for applying for the role are genuine.

The best thing you can do to prepare for pitching yourself for a lower level role is to put yourself in the recruiter’s shoes. What would you be thinking if you were reading your over qualified application or interviewing you for this lower level position? Once you have identified the concerns the recruiter has you can work on how you pitch yourself to eliminate those concerns and demonstrate why you really are the best person for the job.

Some common concerns in this situation are:

Are you committed to the role you are applying for or is this just a job until something better comes up?

Particularly in a regional market, the type of position or level of position you might be suited to may not come up every day or week or month. Regardless of if you are not currently working or are in a position and looking to make a move, we want to know you are making that application and want this job for the right reasons. Many clients I recruit for want to appoint a job seeker to their role for the long term and don’t want someone who is just using this position as a stepping stone until something better comes up. It’s crucial to demonstrate through your application; generally the covering letter is the best place to do this, your motivations for applying for the role. Don’t make the step back in your career the elephant in the room. Explain your motivations for applying for the role and address it at an interview. Help the recruiter to understand why you are doing what you are doing.

Will you be satisfied long term?

We want to be sure that you have realistic expectations about what a step back really looks like and what that is going to look like for you on a day to day basis if you were given the job. Many people often say they are happy and want to take a step back, for whatever reason, yet once they get in to the job after just weeks or a couple of months they are going stir crazy because they are not completely challenged, don’t feel they are using all of their skills or are bored. If you are genuine about wanting to secure a job that is a step back from where you are at now you need to demonstrate it to the recruiter. Have you really thought the decision through and are you realistic as to what a day in the life of the position will really look like? Then you need to convey why that fits with what you are trying to achieve.

Are your salary expectations realistic?

I have seen on many occasions, a job seeker shoot themselves in the foot with overcoming this red flag. Typically in the majority of situations, if you are taking a job that is a step back and is at a lower level than what you are currently doing, then the salary package on offer drops too. Some jobseekers pitch themselves well in overcoming the first two concerns I’ve mentioned but when asked the salary question they state they want to be earning the same as what they have been on. I’m sorry but that just doesn’t add up and indicates you are being unrealistic in your approach. To overcome this hurdle preparation is key. Do your research and know what a position such as the one you are applying for is paying in your market. Crunch the numbers from the start so you know if you can really live off the lower salary and that it won’t change your lifestyle. My advice is to crunch the numbers from the start. You are only wasting your time and everybody else’s if at the end of the day the salary on offer is not going to suit your financial commitments and lifestyle.

If you really want to nail pitching yourself for a position that’s a step back from what you have been doing honesty, transparency and being genuine about your motivations will help the recruiter to understand your why. Don’t try and hide from it and don’t underestimate the concerns the recruiter may have; dedicate the time and effort to painting a picture for the recruiter so they understand and are confident that you have really thought through the decision.

About The Author
Ange Connor

Ange is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource (HR) and careers agencies. Ange is an ‘ideas’ person and a ‘big picture’ thinker. She loves to challenge the status quo – in fact, that’s how Inspire HQ began.

Ange has supported hundreds of businesses across Ballarat and regional Victoria to attract, engage, motivate, develop and retain their greatest assets; their people. Ange’s unyielding passion and invaluable knowledge of the recruitment and HR industry ensures she delivers the best solutions for her clients.

Ange has held various board positions and regularly volunteers her time to share her industry and market knowledge. She was recently a Councillor for the Victoria and Tasmania region of the Recruitment Consulting and Staffing Association (RCSA) of Australia and New Zealand, and she is a current Board Director of the Committee for Ballarat.

For more useful information, follow Ange on LinkedIn.

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