Being overqualified is something most people fear and most companies try to avoid. Yet, when a company rejects you for being overqualified for a job, they will not tell you.
You just receive the standard template, “We have moved on with other candidates we feel are a better fit.” It can be a headache especially if you are overqualified and unemployed. Even the “overqualified” rejection letter never really states what is happening. So, what are the real reasons companies reject you for being overqualified?
They fear the following will happen.
1. Fear you cannot be managed
Today’s workforce is living longer and retiring later than ever before. Not all companies have figured out how to manage age diversity in the workplace.
So, imagine you come into an interview with a stellar resume of fascinating experience but the company knows your manager is younger. The natural fear is that you will be hard to manage because you are working with someone with fewer years of experience. An “overqualified” rejection letter of some sort would never state, “We fear you will be difficult to manage.” So, what do you do?
Calming the fear: Prepare for your interview with stories of how you handled diverse situations and worked with people across many departments and ages. Hiring overqualified employees can be a risk to company culture, especially if you are confrontational with those of lesser years of experience.
2. Fear you will get bored quickly
We all want to have a job that presents new challenges and goals. The fear of you being overqualified for a job comes from the fact that you had already completed many challenges the company is facing, now. Therefore, you will be bored with the job quickly and will leave.
Calming the fear: Come into the interview with stories of how you remain motivated to face these challenges over and over again. Most importantly, explain how you enjoy finding new ways to complete goals and get better each time at it in new work environments. Enthusiasm is key. Being overqualified for a job should never lead you to act like “you are just over the whole thing.”
3. Fear your salary requirements will be too high
This is rough if you are overqualified and unemployed. It makes sense that a company would fear a skilled employee of 15 years experience. They fear you cost too much or will one day ask for too much. An “overqualified” rejection letter will never say, “overqualified”, but it may actually say, “Your requirements are too high.”
It is natural to think one should ask for less money in order to get hired. But you do not always need to undercut yourself. We have seen overqualified and unemployed skilled workers take massive pay cuts in salary just to get hired. However, when they took a salary cut it made sense to them. If you are overqualified and unemployed there is a way to calm the company’s fear.
Calming the fear: If you must reveal your salary history, make it clear you are flexible and that your previous salaries play no part in your decision to negotiate an offer or accept the job.
Above all, remember that the label of being “overqualified” is just that...a label. Labels limit what companies can learn about an employee. Your purpose for making the “overqualified” label seem irrelevant is to get the interview. This way, they get to learn more about you!