Being told you’re overqualified for a job is a real bummer. Not only did you get rejected, but you also can’t really do anything to improve — you’re already too qualified, so trying to get more experience or skill will just make it worse, right?
Maybe not. According to David Fecak, the word “overqualified” can be a mask for a whole host of other symptoms that are making you unemployable. In fact, he calls it one of the “laziest, easiest, and safest ways that companies can reject you for a position.” So don’t just take the excuse and continue with your job search as you have before. Read his tips for what “overqualified” might really mean and how you can fix it.
What employers are really saying when they say you’re overqualified:
- Overpaid: You’re asking for a salary, or earning a salary at your current job, that’s too high for the job you’re applying for.
- Stagnant: You’ve been working in a position that hasn’t changed much, and you’re trying to enter a field that’s transforming rapidly. They’re worried you won’t thrive.
- Overskilled: You have more skills than necessary for the new job, and the employer worries you will get bored and leave quickly.
- Threatening: You’re awesome enough to make the higher-ups at the new job worried that you’ll beat them out for promotions.
- Age: This one speaks for itself and is a real issue. But Fecak suggests that age is usually not as much of a problem as stagnancy.
What you can do to improve your chances:
- Rethink: Think through how you present yourself in job interviews and consider which one of the above meanings of overqualified you have been hearing.
- Retool: Keep your skills up to date and work on learning something new.
- Remarket: Make sure your job application materials accurately reflect why you’re a great candidate, and try some new strategies to get your name out there.
- Reboot and refresh: Look outside the traditional job box and see if there’s a another field or type of work (contracting, consulting) that could work better for you and your strengths.
Have you ever been told you were overqualified? Did hearing that make you change up your job search?