Unqualified: Decoded

August 17th, 2012

When an employer cites overqualification for choosing not to hire someone, it can be confusing, vague, and leave the candidate wondering exactly what happened. Even in situations where it seems like a sure fit, applicants are coming away jobless, with too much qualification to blame. There are some translations of this phrase that can be helpful to consider if you are ever told that you are overqualified for a job.

“Overqualified” can be a code interviewers use when they feel that you start out asking for more salary than they are willing or able to offer. Because it saves time, interviewers will not ask each candidate if s/he is willing to lower his/her asking salary. If you are flexible on your salary requirements, tell your interviewer during the interview. State in your interview why you would be willing to accept a pay cut; perhaps you would prefer to move to an area with a better school district, and this would be worth accepting less than you’ve asked for–or are worth. This also explains to your potential employer that you are invested in the position and do not plan to leave soon after you are hired.

Often times, however, telling a candidate s/he is overqualified is simply an expression that has become a catchall for everything from a perceived or assumed technology gap to an overall bad fit. Because it can seem initially flattering, and is a concise, liability-free expression of disinterest, the term has become overused. Employers use this term also to describe individuals they suspect will not stay in a position for which they are overqualified for very long. Because of the expense of continually hiring and training new employees after people leave for jobs to which they are better suited, employers are not willing to waste time or money on taking this risk. This is why it is important to be upfront and proactive by diffusing these potential preconceptions.

Two tips for overcoming overqualification: first, don’t dumb yourself down to appear as though you aren’t. It is unbecoming, and puts you at a disadvantage if you do end up landing the job. Living up to your full potential is always the best policy on the job. Second, research the company and be prepared to make a preemptive case for why your talents would be helpful to the company.

Being overqualified doesn’t have to keep you from landing a position with a great company. Effective communication and diffusing preconceptions may be all you need.

Contact us today to connect with someone and begin locating employees that meet your qualification requirements!