It’s not uncommon for experienced workers to be told they aren’t getting a job because they are overqualified. Expressing a willingness to work below past level and beneath past salary oftentimes is not the best strategy for dealing with this situation. Instead, it’s important to understand what specific concerns the hiring manager is raising. Deep experience should not be a liability but actually an asset in your job search. To bring it out, you need to address the underlying reasons directly.
Here are some of the true reasons (i.e. employer’s worries and assumptions) behind the “overqualified” statement:
- The applicant will be bored in the job
- The new hire will leave as soon as something better comes up
- The overqualified worker will be resentful about the position or develop a bad attitude
- Worried the individual will be unwilling to do menial tasks or will feel the work is beneath him or her
- Uncomfortable managing someone older or more experienced
- Insecure or competitive concerns about managing someone who may aspire to rise in the ranks
- Applicant does not really want the job but is simply desperate for work
- Skills are stale.
- Mature applicant is not a modern, flexible thinker
- Old style communication a mis-match for fast-paced short-hand used in many work places
- Culture clash if 40+ worker is accustomed to a more formal workplace
- Applicant may be difficult to work with, judgmental or unpleasant
- Mature worker may be slow or struggle with new ways of doing thingsOr, it may simply be that there are too many qualified applicants, so hiring manager is looking for a flattering way to turn people down.
As you can see, there are many different types of concerns hiding behind the label of “overqualified”. If you don’t know what the true concerns are, you can’t overcome them. Up next, how to address those concerns and turn your experience and qualifications into advantages.