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How much experience is “too much” experience? I’m a 10th year, so is it worth applying for positions requiring 5-7 years of experience, or should I assume I’m overqualified?
It’s not always easy to tell whether a lawyer has too much experience for a particular position…specifically if the seniority gap isn’t that wide. If you have 10 years of experience and are considering legal employment positions asking for 5-7 years of seniority, you should not assume you are too experienced in every instance. And you should not be deterred from learning more about an opportunity in order to assess whether the role could be right for you or a step backwards.
So when can a candidate possess an acceptable amount of experience for a role despite being north of the seniority range? Below are some common scenarios:
Example: you spent four years as a law firm litigation associate and then transitioned in house as a commercial transactions lawyer. So of your 10 years of legal experience, four are as a litigator and six as a commercial lawyer.
Example: you have 10 years of diverse experience (tech trans, commercial, M&A, corporate, privacy, product) and five of those years carry a heavier weight on privacy. In this scenario, you won’t likely be viewed as too senior if the role calls for a 5-7 year privacy lawyer.
Determining your over, under or just right qualifications for a job opportunity is more about assessing a variety of factors…as opposed to one in a given context. So while your technical number of years practicing law may be more than what an employer is seeking, you should not assume you are overqualified for the role. Instead, identify just how big the age gap is and analyze the role, compensation and title as well as how the opportunity can help you grow and advance. By doing this, you’ll see a clearer picture as to the fit. And if you decided to move forward, you’ll make a more effective case when the time comes.
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Lass Evans, VP, Deputy General Counsel, Fortune 500 Company
Great article Julie.