Why You Were Called “Overqualified” For The Job

As seen on Forbes.

Few things worse than being called “overqualified” for a job you know you’d be a great fit for. Most recruiters mean well when they give you this feedback but it can feel like being sucker punched, especially if you felt confident during your interview.

I wish I could give you the exact reason why they deemed that you’re not the right fit but it really depends on the situation. With that said, let’s explore the five most common reasons why you got called “overqualified” and what you can do next.

They Don’t Know How To Reject You

This is the most common reason you are getting called “overqualified” even after acing your interview.

Some recruiters aren’t trained to give real, actionable feedback and at times, will give you a generic reason without backing it up. As mentioned, being “overqualified” is not necessarily a bad thing, but it also doesn’t give you the result you want. However, if you see this being a pattern and the common feedback you consistently get, then the real reason may be from the others on the list.

What you can do: Ask the recruiter for specific feedback and listen to their suggestions for future interviews.

They Think You’re In It For The Short-Term

Recruiters may sometimes think that someone with qualifications above the job’s requirement might just maximize their company for a pit-stop opportunity, and eventually leave them for greener pastures once these become available. You also have to consider this because taking in a new employee requires a lot of effort and resources, which can prove not to equal the investment should you leave after a short-term project.

What you can do: Don’t be generic in your interest and showcase what excites you about working with this specific company and opportunity.

Your Salary Range Is Too High

Having an impressive resume with tons of work experience can discourage an employer with a limited budget. I’m not encouraging you to lowball yourself but keep in mind that all companies will consider their own bottom line when hiring. This is why it’s best to hear from the recruiter first about salary before sharing your own expectations with no context. 

What you can do: Share that you are flexible with salary expectations and would love to hear from their end on the budget for the role.

They Think You Can’t Adapt

It’s unfair, but some hiring managers may favor younger applicants over their older counterparts simply because they assume they can no longer adapt to new environments. While we know that this isn’t true, there are times when adapting to new technology or work tools can be a challenge for anyone, regardless of age. The good news is that you can jump ahead of these assumptions and take it upon yourself to learn new skills that will be useful for the role.

What you can do: Make a list of emerging technology and tools for your role and industry and familiarize yourself with them. You don’t have to join any expensive programs to do it, you can even get started with free classes on YouTube.

You Intimidated The Hiring Manager

Most people think it’s a plus to have impressive qualifications. However, not everyone will see it the same way. I know from my clients’ stories that they have met hiring managers who have felt intimidated by their years of experience, and chose to go with another candidate that followed the status quo. It’s an unfortunate reality when it comes to hiring, but I believe you are saving yourself a lot of headaches by not working with that kind of manager. You want to go somewhere where your skills and experiences are celebrated, not repressed.
What you can do: Choose to see these instances as blessings in disguise and move on to meet other people who will uplift you in your career 

What To Do Next

While you ultimately shouldn’t hide your professional experience and capabilities, grounding them and only highlighting the most relevant ones can help you avoid being tagged as “overqualified” and land the role.

A common mistake among candidates is including all their achievements, degrees, and work experience on their resume. If you have over a decade of experience, this can be overwhelming for a recruiter and doesn’t sell the specific skills you have. Our free resume template is a great resource to help you tailor your qualifications in a way that immediately grabs the recruiter’s attention. Once you decide to apply for a role, thoroughly study what they’re asking for and match it with the details that matter.

It also may benefit you to remove your graduation dates and outdated experiences from your resume. Remember, this is your story, and you get to tell it the way you think highlights your best stuff. I know being called “overqualified” can sting, but know you are on the right path, and your time will come soon. Rooting for you, my friend.

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