When you're applying for jobs, being told that you're being dismissed because you're "overqualified" for a job you know you could do well is incredibly frustrating. After all, having higher qualifications than what a job requires should be a good thing, shouldn't it? To job seekers, being told they're overqualified can feel like being told by a date that they're too funny or good-looking – and leaves them wondering what is it about me that is a deal-breaker.
So why is being overqualified so often seen as a bad thing? It's understandable to be rejected if you're not qualified enough, but what's the concern about the overqualified?
Ø Your Salary Expectations Are Too High
One of the things that will affect your chances of getting hired will be your salary expectations. Some employers always assume that for you to match their qualifications for the position, they won’t be able to pay you enough. Those with higher salary expectations are typically those with more experience, therefore, candidates who employers need and want to hire. But, can’t always pay, so they hire someone with a bit less experience, and wanting less money.
Ø You Are a Passive Candidate
Being overqualified makes employers think that you will leave once a better offer comes around. You’re smart and have a lot of experience that is useful to many organizations. They know you will take the job but only because you want to have a job until you get a better offer.
Ø You Might Be a Threat (Experience-Wise)
Obviously, not everyone will be happy working under an employer that has less experience compared to you, and the feeling of you being a threat could be enough to cost you the job. And in addition, those who don’t see you as a threat might think that because you have more experience compared to him/her, you will think you can do better, or you know better.
Ø You Didn’t Read the Job Posting
You will definitely be rejected for the job you applied to, if you are randomly applying to jobs and not reading the job description and requirements. Just because the position title is what you are looking for, it may not be a good fit for your past experiences.
Ø You might get bored
Hiring managers often think that a person who is accustomed to performing higher-level or more interesting work can't possibly be happy with less challenging responsibilities, and they assume that you'll quickly get bored, then frustrated and then want to leave.
So what do you do if you're hearing that you're overqualified for jobs you actually want? The best thing you can do is to understand the concerns above and address them head-on. You can do that by explaining why you're genuinely interested in the position. For instance, you might explain that while your kids are in school, you want a job with stable hours that doesn't require the level of responsibility you've had in the past – or whatever is really true for you. (And that's key – it needs to ring true for you; don't make something up.)
If you know hiring managers are likely to worry about your salary expectations, you can also say explicitly that you're clear about the lower pay that comes with the position, and that it's fine with you.