Can You Really Be Overqualified For A Job?


There are few things that make less sense on the surface then being told you are OVERQUALIFIED for a job. How can you have too much of the experience needed for a job? Can a puppy be too cute? Can nachos have too much queso? What is going on here?

The truth is that companies aren’t necessarily concerned about a person having too much experience because, I mean, who wouldn’t want to hire someone who has everything they need to thrive at their job and more? The concern Hiring Managers have has more to do with the idea of why someone would want a job that they are overqualified for and take less money, when there are other jobs out there better suited for them. This automatically raises a red flag, as they may be worried that the candidate is merely using this opportunity as a place holder until a better opportunity comes along. Turnover costs companies valuable time and money, so when companies hire for full-time positions, they want to hire for the long-term.

While being overqualified is going to be a concern, if you really want a job that you have too much experience for, there are ways to soothe the mind of the Hiring Manager so that you aren’t seen as a flight risk. For example:

Be upfront (aka address the elephant in the room)

Don’t try and hide the fact that you are overqualified, be open about it. Don’t be afraid to mention it in the cover letter (more on that below) and be ready to answer questions about it during the interview.

Sell them on why this is the right place for you (now and in the future). If you have enough experience to qualify for a job a rung or two above the position you are applying for, Hiring Managers are really interested in hearing why you are willing to “settle” for a job that seems “beneath” you. Essentially, you want to show that you are interested in what the job entails and that you intend to stick around. Talk about what attracted you to the job, why you are interested in the company, and how you can grow in its structure. Oh, and adding that you value stability and are looking for long-term growth is like the cherry on top of the “don’t worry, I’ll stick around” sundae.

Be flexible (especially on salary)

Most Hiring Managers would love to be in the position to hire someone who is more than qualified to take on a position, but you have to understand they aren’t necessarily going to spend more money to get them. With this in mind, this is not the time to go out a limb with salary demands based on experience, nor should you really give off the impression that you are unhappy with the salary they are offering you (as long as it’s in line they should be paying a person in this position, of course). Remember, they are skeptical as to why you would take less money to begin with, so don’t give them a reason to suspect their suspicions are right.

In the end, nothing should stop you from applying for a job you are overqualified for. If you can show you are passionate and are willing to stay put, the employer gets what they want, you get what you want, and everyone gets extra queso, so to speak.

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