I'm applying for a job which is a step down from my most recent job, which I got made redundant from. The job market is so brutal that I have no choice and I'll take any management job I can get at a FTSE 100 company like this one. How does the following phrasing sound:

"I appreciate that this position might be at a slightly lower level than positions I have recently held, but I would be delighted to secure it in the current job market."

This doesn't sound right, but I don't know how to better communicate this. Or should I just leave it unaddressed?

I'm scared they won't hire me because they will think I'm "too high level" - which is something numerous people have said to me, which is extremely frustrating when you're unemployed and desperate for a job.

  • 13
    "The job market is so brutal that I have no choice and I'll take any management job I can get at a FTSE 100 company like this one." why the specificity about it being a management job at FTSE 100?
    – Aida Paul
    Sep 5, 2020 at 14:10
  • 5
    Meanwhile a question appears, "How do we tell a prospective employee who's overqualified that we don't want someone who will leave the moment a better job elsewhere opens up?" Sep 7, 2020 at 18:59
  • What is FTSE??!
    – guest
    Sep 8, 2020 at 12:13
  • @guest FTSE 100 stands for a a Financial Times Stock Exchange 100 Index
    – gnat
    Sep 8, 2020 at 12:16
  • @gnat: Thank you for the clarification.
    – guest
    Sep 8, 2020 at 12:17

6 Answers 6


Perhaps you could take a slightly different approach and focus on why you want to work at the company itself.

If I had a candidate tell me they would be just fine taking this "lower" position in the current job market, I'd be thinking three things: you don't care about the company, you don't care about what we do and you don't want to work here and will leave as soon as something better comes along.

None of those things is a positive for you, and will most definitely get you put at the bottom of the pile, even if we otherwise like you.

So perhaps focus on why you're excited to work there! What drew you to the company, what are you excited to learn, or to deliver? Talk about what the company do and show some passion for them. They'll start to create their own story about why you want to take a lower level job, that you really just want to work for them.

That said, make sure you also have a good answer if asked about the level drop. Do you want to be "more hands on"? Are you just really excited about their company? Is the job title not that important to you as you just like to do really good/interesting things?

There are a lot of ways to frame it when you're taking a lower positioned job than before, but I'd just really advise against telling them it's the current job market.

  • 21
    All sound advice. If its just a lower level management position, rather than "hands on", I'd probably go with "more direct involvement", "mentoring" or suchlike. Unless it is actually doing the work, rather than managing. OP, you're best placed to know which.
    – Justin
    Sep 5, 2020 at 18:56
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    +1 for the final paragraph in particular: What OP wants to communicate is exactly the opposite of what HR et al. want to hear. OP should not be trying to communicate this fact, and indeed OP should make up whatever excuse they can to avoid mentioning the job market, directly or indirectly (which includes things such as the economy, the pandemic, etc.).
    – Kevin
    Sep 5, 2020 at 23:49
  • 1
    As a general rule in interviewing, you always want to present the most positive look you can. I'm struggling to think of a single time you might purposefully want to expose some kind of negative trait about yourself during the interview process.
    – corsiKa
    Sep 7, 2020 at 4:42
  • 7
    "I'm deeply passionate about not starving to death". Always go with the positive spin.
    – B. Goddard
    Sep 7, 2020 at 11:17
  • 4
    @B.Goddard "So he's okay to starve for extended periods as long as he doesn't die..." - HR manager determining pay scale, probably
    – corsiKa
    Sep 7, 2020 at 20:12

Personal Experience

I did this years ago. I felt claustrophobic in my old job and just wanted to move. I was in a computer department and saw an advert for a lower grade job in the computing facility of an oceanographic institute.

I like sailing and the job was near the coast. I knew almost nothing about oceanography.

So what did I do? I stated on my application that I had always been interested in oceanography and would really like to work there. I immediately went to every source I could find to study up on oceanography and crammed in as much knowledge as I could.

At the interview, the moment came. "Why are you taking a pay cut?"

"Because of my interest in oceanography", I said.

A scientist was on the panel. He lasered in on me and asked me an oceanography question. I was able to answer it. He threw another one at me, I was able to answer that. He was impressed. I got the job.


Study the new company and its location. Find everything good about it that you can. Hint at all these good things in your application as a reason for moving. Make sure you can answer questions with real knowledge.

  • 1
    Are you still working there?
    – Ian Kemp
    Sep 8, 2020 at 9:10
  • @Ian Kemp - No I went on to two other jobs from there - higher pay grade. Sep 8, 2020 at 9:15

"I appreciate that this position might be at a slightly lower level than positions I have recently held, but I would be delighted to secure it in the current job market." - this must be the very definition of obsequiousness!

I wouldn't say a word about it unless you're asked.

If you are asked about it, I'd find something positive to say, such as that your previous position was stressful and it's a welcome opportunity to change down a gear, or that it's a shorter commute, or that you look forward to joining a stable company, or something plausible which is suited to your circumstances, even if it's absolute codswallop.

Also bear in mind, many firms may be delighted at - or at least ambiguously positive towards - the idea of getting well-qualified candidates at an undervalue in the current market.

Even if your tenure is not expected to be as long as they would normally prefer, they may be getting plenty of bang for their buck in the meantime if you stay for say 6 months, especially if there is plenty of knowledge transfer and your own ramp-up time is not too great, and there's always the possibility that you might settle and continue your career with them.

  • 4
    "Also bear in mind, many firms may be delighted at - or at least ambiguously positive towards - the idea of getting well-qualified candidates at an undervalue in the current market." Sadly that's not the case, as by the time they get up to speed on how the company works they usually jump ship back to their qualified-for job. Between training time and cost + recruitment fees, those 6 months are barely break-even in most cases.
    – Aida Paul
    Sep 5, 2020 at 21:10
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    @TymoteuszPaul, it really does depend on the role. Companies do sometimes hire consultants for 6 months, and they do sometimes hire people not specifically for their labour but for the experience and expertise which they bring into the firm. And in a FTSE100 firm, the recruitment costs may be largely fixed staff costs (rather than marginal costs per person recruited), and the value of expertise brought in and shared (for a fraction of the usual wage) may dwarf those recruitment costs. It's also possible that people form enduring friendships which provide a future source of professional advice.
    – Steve
    Sep 5, 2020 at 22:02
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    @TymoteuszPaul At the time that they "usually jump ship" is an opportunity for the company to match/exceed offers, or preemptively make promotions, so it's not necessarily an automatic loss for the company, and may actually benefit from the arrangement. Plus we can't be certain that the job market will be any better in 6 months.
    – mcknz
    Sep 6, 2020 at 0:39

I looked at the date of this post, and it said "today", so I'm going to assume that means 5 September 2020. We're 6 months into the U.S. response to the SARS-nCov-2 pandemic, otherwise known as the Coronavirus, and the economy has, in a word, tanked. Many, many people are desperate for ANY job.

Unfortunately, employers don't want to hear that, because they just don't care. Yes, it's logical that someone would be unemployed because their firm let them go due to COVID-19. If they're not getting callbacks on their resume for jobs where it would NOT be a step down, after a while, a job seeker will start getting anxious.

As others have said, focus on why you want the job, and what benefits it will bring you, but focus on the benefits on a professional level, not the money. It's kind of why I, as a taekwondo black belt, still practice the fundamentals and the basic introductory forms... you're solidifying your foundation for the future.

It sucks that you can't just say "I'm unemployed, I want to work, I need the money to live", since it is the truth, but employers don't want to hear that, because even if it isn't true, they'll be afraid you'll jump ship at the first opportunity. In this economy, that's not likely, but that's what they'll think.

Spend some time doing research on the company, and on the type of position you're going for, and see how it will help you in your long term career path. Deflect any questions in that direction, and you should be fine. It worked for me when I was last unemployed, and that was 2013/2014.

  • I don't think it's fair to dismiss the employer's concern entirely. There is a risk that someone who takes a downgraded job due to current market conditions will seek to get back their former status if/when the economy improves again. This answer is a bit too much of an anti-employer rant, and only the 3rd and 5th paragraphs really start to address the question. I'd suggest improving by removing the rants and expanding more on the useful parts. Sep 7, 2020 at 12:28
  • Considering the entire employer-prospective employee relationship is skewed with a horrible power imbalance in favor of the employer, I don't think it's reasonable to complain about fairness in dismissing the employer's concerns. I'm not ranting, I'm stating facts, and one of those facts is that someone without a job needs a job. Your entire comment to my answer seems to say "Not only is it not my problem as an employer, but I don't ever want to hear anything about it". Way to make a prospective employee feel like one of the team there, buddy!. Sep 8, 2020 at 15:26
  • I was simply pointing out that there is a real risk of the scenario, and dismissing it completely isn't "stating facts" as you claim, it's dismissing. A more reasonable approach is to acknowledge that there are factors relevant to both sides in any job negotiation, and it doesn't just simply boil down to "I need a job", "ok here's a job" as you seem to think it should. I'm not sure how you reached the conclusion in your last two sentences, which seem to have nothing to do with my point. Sep 9, 2020 at 8:40
  • You were complaining about it not being "fair". I acknowledged that the employer is going to see things that way, but when a job seeker needs a job, they don't have a choice not to work..... It's not required for me or anyone else to be "fair" to prospective employers, as they're not fair to prospective employees at all. Sep 10, 2020 at 12:23


I don't think you've thought hard enough about why you want to work there. I mean, you could work at any number of places, right? How about Costa Coffee? Pret a Manger? Tesco? I'm sure there are barista and stocker positions available at all those chains. The reason you are even contemplating a position at your FTSE 100 is because they are your best option. Unlike the places you wish you could work at, these blokes are hiring. And in this economy, no less! That speaks well of their operations, does it not? Their efficiency? Their forward-looking prospects? For all these reasons, you should be impressed. And tell them so. That is why you want to work for them, with them. They are the front-runner, and they are so far in the lead that you are embarrassed to even name the runner-up.

You want to join the winning team, and in the bloodsport of this pandemic economy, they are the winning team. Don't say it that way. Just mention the "winning team" part. Of course, no team wins forever. They know that. But stop thinking about this company as a step down. Imagine yourself serving coffee from a machine, wearing a shirt and hat which look identical to five other people in your store. Then, with that exact image in mind, tell them why this position looks like heaven to you. I'll bet it's not as hard as you think.

  • Not sure you'll easily get a job at Pret or Costa. The latter for example have just announced they will close 30 branches and cut 1000 jobs. The food/drinks industry is one of the hardest hit. But I take your point, just perhaps not the best examples. Sep 7, 2020 at 12:37
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    @JonBentley I've visited London a few times, but I live in the States, so I just picked the few large chains I could recognize. ;) Apologies for not doing my homework! Sep 7, 2020 at 19:33

You never say that lol. In fact, don't bring it up! Don't mention it unless your interviewer specifically asks Why you are taking a cut in title/pay.

If they do ask you point blank you say

"Well, I really enjoyed that company and the work I was doing, and I'm really eager to find my next role. Sometimes in my old job I did the work of this current position and I really, really enjoyed it. I'd really like this opportunity to do it fulltime."

The above addresses that you were let go for economic reasons, that you are trying to get back to work ASAP, and finally you give a reason why you would be interested in this role even if the position/title/pay doesn't match your previous role. I'd be surprised if an interviewer didn't like the above answer.

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