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“You’re Overqualified.” What are they really saying?

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.

2 Comments

  1. Posted August 24, 2010 at 2:01 am | Permalink

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6 Trackbacks

  1. [...] “overqualified”, it’s critical to understand the true concerns behind the label. Yesterday we laid out what some of those concerns might be. Today, how to address them. The issue is likely to come up at three possible junctures: 1. You [...]

  2. [...] be told they are overqualified for a position. In part one of our series on this issue, we learned there are often hidden concerns behind the label “overqualified”. Part two focused on how to address these concerns. Today, going beyond addressing concerns, to [...]

  3. [...] “You’re Overqualified.” What are they Really Saying? [...]

  4. [...] for the “overqualified” label by understanding the real reasons behind it and how to turn your qualifications into [...]

  5. By Keeping Age Out of Your Job Search | Jobfully Blog on December 16, 2010 at 7:09 am

    [...] How to answer: Express your desire to continuously grow in the industry and to bring great value. Emphasize your wonderful combination of enough experience to hit the ground running and learning constantly to bring long lasting value to the company. Read more about avoiding being “overqualified”. [...]

  6. [...] peut arriver à chacun au cours de sa recherche d’emploi d’entendre dire que l’on ne peut pas obtenir cet emploi parce qu’on est trop qualifié. Dans cette situation, se montrer volontaire pour travailler en dessous de ses qualifications et du [...]

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