Are You Overqualified Again? - Abby Locke

Are You Overqualified Again?

If you are actively searching for new executive job opportunities, you may have experienced this before.

You have aced the interview, felt confident about the outcome only to hear these dreadful words: “I’m sorry, but we feel you’re overqualified for this position.”

Not again! What thoughts are going through your head? If you are like many of my executive clients your response is “So what if I’m ‘overqualified’. I have the best qualifications.

“This isn’t fair! What’s the real reason they don’t want to hire me?”

Let’s unpack this scenario a little further. If we took a positive approach, here’s what could employers really mean (or be concerned about) when they say you are “overqualified”:

  1. You’ll become bored or frustrated in this position in less than 6 months
  2. Your salary/compensation needs are higher than what they can offer
  3. Your commitment is short-term and you’ll leave when a better opportunity pops up
  4. Your immediate value to them doesn’t outweigh the cost of having to hire and train someone else later

If you get the “overqualified” excuse once, you’ll be wary about getting it again. So if you continue to apply for lower-level jobs, you may be tempted to “dumb down” your resume and omit things.

But lying about your background is not the way to go!

Here’s a better strategy…address it head on. Be the first one to raise the “overqualified” issue with a potential employer.

Bring it up and openly discuss it and convince the interviewer that it won’t be a problem.

Remember that your best weapon with every job interview is to anticipate and prepare. Think of what you’ll say and convince them that you’re good investment even if you are “overqualified.”

Give specific examples and career accomplishments that show you will be a great asset and tell them why you are applying for the position.

Say something like, “You can tell that I’ve worked at a higher level before, but this position is exactly what I’m looking for.” You can take it further by talking further about what drew you to the job opportunity.

  • “I’ve always wanted to work for your company [or industry], and I’m willing to take a lower-level position for the opportunity.”
  • “It will allow leverage my skills and expand my experience in a new field.”
  • “This position provides the stability and long-term growth potential I’m looking for.”

Be very enthusiastic about the job and demonstrate how your background, skills, experience and strengths are assets to helping them their corporate goals.

If the job is really worth it to you, offer to sign an agreement stating that you will on for a minimum of 12 months.

What strategies have you tried to deal with “overqualified” issue?