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Be honest with employer about desire to work remotely

Dear J.T. & Dale: I’ve had three interviews in four months. Each time I’ve done a phone screen with a recruiter who says that I meet all their qualifications. I am 52 years old. When I get there, I feel like I do an amazing job explaining to them all the value that I will bring. At the end of the conversation they’ve all told me that I appear to be overqualified for the role and then I never hear from them again. Why wouldn’t they want an overqualified individual with lots of enthusiasm? – Steve

J.T.: I have seen this many times over the years. As people get further along in their careers and gain more skills and abilities, they are excited to share how much they have to offer to an employer. However the employer has a budget and wants somebody who has the exact skill sets for the job. So when you go in and you talk about all the additional value you’re bringing, what you’re really doing is implying that you will be difficult to work with. Without even knowing it, you are coming across as a know-it-all, and they don’t want to pay for that. They are fearful that very soon after hiring you, you will begin constantly reminding them that they are getting a huge deal for their money.

DALE: When someone says “overqualified” to you, what you should hear is “overselling.” You may be thinking, I have to sell myself harder in order to justify why I’m worth more. But there you go, trapped in the “over” vortex.

J.T.: So you have to find a way to be more balanced. Stop overselling by listening more and asking good questions, only giving them the information they need. Also, don’t be afraid to tell them how much you appreciate what they have to offer. This is a partnership.

DALE: Yes, as is so often the case, questions are the answer. You have to resist telling interviewers how you would work or how you would solve problems and instead inquire about how they do things. Stop trying to be impressive and instead seek to learn and to help, and that’s how you end up being impressive.

Dear J.T. & Dale: My boyfriend works remotely and since the pandemic, my company is letting us work remotely as well. However, I heard they are making plans to bring us back to the office. Meanwhile, my boyfriend has just been given the opportunity of a lifetime. Friends offered him their house on an island. He wants to go work there remotely for a year, and he wants me to go with him. How do I convince my employer to let me do this? – Alondra

DALE: I hope J.T. has some thoughts on how to persuade your employer, because I’m pessimistic. After all, you can’t even offer to come in some of the time, or be there for important meetings – you are literally on an island. So I’d urge you to find a job that is designed to be remote. There are more of those jobs every day.

J.T.: Meanwhile, you have to find out if your employer would even consider letting you continue to work remotely regardless of where it is. I would set a meeting with your boss and politely inquire about continuing to work remotely for one year. If they say that’s a possibility, then you can introduce the factor that you’ve been given the opportunity to relocate. If they say it isn’t a possibility, then I agree that you’re better off starting to look for a new job. What you don’t want to do is move without telling your employer and then get fired for it. Honesty is the best policy here. One way to convince your boss that this would be OK is to show them how much more productive you’ve been since working from home. If you can quantify how you have saved or made the company money, you can make a case that working remotely has made you a more valuable employee and therefore should continue.

Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a career coach and the founder of the leading career site www.workitdaily.com. Dale Dauten is founder of The Innovators’ Lab and author of a novel about H.R., “The Weary Optimist.” Please visit them at jtanddale.com, where you can send questions via email, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803. (c) 2020 by King Features Syndicate Inc.

 

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