Our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy have changed.

By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

Hired! Turning a demotion into a promotion

In today's job market, overqualified candidates may be at an advantage - if they know how to work the system.

EMAIL  |   PRINT  |   SHARE  |   RSS
google my aol my msn my yahoo! netvibes
Paste this link into your favorite RSS desktop reader
See all CNNMoney.com RSS FEEDS (close)
By Jessica Dickler, CNNMoney.com staff writer

Mark Heinemann, here with his wife and two children, says getting laid off was a blessing.
Millions of job openings!

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Lower pay. Less responsibility. It's a step down, but for some determined workers, it could be a stepping stone to a better career.

As an information technology professional with 15 years experience in the health care industry in Cape Coral, Fla., Mark Heinemann, 37, thought he was sheltered from layoffs -- but that wasn't the case.

He received his pink slip along with 12 others last October, the day he returned from his honeymoon.

Now he's one of the few that is already employed again.

With a wife, two kids and a mortgage, Heinemann needed to find a job quickly. "I did something I wouldn't have ever done if I wasn't desperate," he said.

Heinemann applied for jobs all across Florida that he was overqualified for.

When the IT manager at Internal Medicine Associates of Lee County -- just 15 minutes from Heinemann's home -- received his résumé, he saw potential.

The firm had been looking for a network technician and had hired someone with a less advanced skill set who didn't work out. But a candidate with Heinemann's experience could save the department money, they thought.

Heinemann could not only perform the job he was hired for, but also more advanced projects, which were usually left to costly consultants.

He was ultimately hired in February as a network engineer, a step up from the position they had advertised for.

While Heinemann took a small pay cut at the outset, he was awarded with a $10,000 raise after three months.

His title and salary are now equal to what he was making at his old job, plus he says he's happier than he was before.

"I guess in the end getting laid off was a blessing," he said.

One step forward, two steps back

According to our career experts, job seekers will have more luck by expanding their target market to include positions that require less skills and expertise.

Being overqualified worked to Heinemann's advantage, which can be the case for many other experienced job seekers in today's market as well.

"The company is getting a better employee at a bargain rate," said Kathy Fahrman, vice president of Résumés by Professionals in Tampa, Fla.

Employers may be concerned, however, that overqualified employees will get bored and complacent, or use the position as a temporary solution until something better comes along.

Our career experts recommend addressing those concerns in a cover letter. "One of the things that [Heinemann] did well was pre-empted any concerns the employer would have about being overqualified by addressing it up front," according to said Gail Frank, owner of Frankly Speaking: Résumés that Work in Tampa, Fla.

For others willing to take a cut in pay and title if it means getting a job, Fahrman suggests expressing that right off the bat. "Say, 'I have 20 years experience, but I'm willing to start at a lesser position, prove my worth and advance within the company,' so they know it's not a temporary stop over for you," she said.

According to the experts, taking a demotion makes the most sense when there is clear upward mobility at the company or the possibility of negotiating a raise or promotion after an initial probationary period.

Read updates on the people previously profiled in Hired! Join the Hired! group on Facebook.

Have you found a job recently? We want to hear from you. Send us an email and attach a photo. Tell us where you got hired and how you landed the job and you could be profiled in an upcoming story on CNNMoney.com. For the CNNMoney.com Comment Policy, click here.  To top of page

They're hiring!These Fortune 100 employers have at least 350 openings each. What are they looking for in a new hire? More
If the Fortune 500 were a country...It would be the world's second-biggest economy. See how big companies' sales stack up against GDP over the past decade. More
Sponsored By:
More Galleries
Top luxurious hotel suites for business travelers For many people, you can't put a price on comfort. More
Million-dollar startups: These firms scored big sales their first year Their first year in business, these companies generated $1 million in sales. More
The 10 best states for retirees It might be worth moving to a new place to find your dream retirement home. Check out these 10 states. More
Worry about the hackers you don't know 
Crime syndicates and government organizations pose a much greater cyber threat than renegade hacker groups like Anonymous. Play
GE CEO: Bringing jobs back to the U.S. 
Jeff Immelt says the U.S. is a cost competitive market for advanced manufacturing and that GE is bringing jobs back from Mexico. Play
Hamster wheel and wedgie-powered transit 
Red Bull Creation challenges hackers and engineers to invent new modes of transportation. Play