Career Planning - Are You Overqualified?
Updated: Aug 15, 2019
Have you ever been told you were overqualified? And thought to yourself "What the hell?"
There is this label floating around in the world of recruitment many job seekers do not fully understand. Being classified as overqualified can destroy every opportunity in your job hunting endeavours. If you are a job-seeker with several years experience, have qualifications, are highly paid in your current or previous job, come from a highly skilled technologically focused background or you are applying for jobs which you believe you could "do with your eyes closed", then yes, you could be victim to this label.
Being overqualified, basically means that for some reason you are not suitable for the advertised position. Based on the way you present yourself (on paper and in the interview), your potential employers could be jumping to the same conclusion – you qualifications, experience, and industry expertise indicate you will become dissatisfied (perhaps even bored) and you will move on - therefore the company cannot merit the expense of hiring you.
However, this situation is not impossible to overcome.
Many job hunters are not aware of the reasons their applications are being ignored or rejected. Have you heard yourself saying “I keep sending away applications and I never hear back” or “Why don’t they want to know me? Why wont they give me the opportunity, when I have so much to offer?”
In order to address this issue, we first have to work out what category you fall into. Which of the following best describes you? (And be honest)
• The Desperate-For-Any-Job-Applicant – Perhaps your application is conveying that you desperate for a job and any job will do. A potential employer would see you as someone who will resign as soon as you get a better offer. The employer believes their available role is only a “temporary fill-in” position for you and that (regardless of what you say) your resume conveys someone who is looking for a temporary solution to fix a temporary (and perhaps urgent) problem. They assume you will be searching for a new job before you have even worked out where the bathroom is. They will not invest the expense of hiring and training someone who will not stick around.
• The Too-Tech-Savvy-Applicant – Most organisations will feel threatened by someone who has conquered all in the technological world. Let's look at it from the hiring Managers point of view......imagine hiring someone who has done it all. Could you be perceived as a threat? Could you find another job very quickly? Why would they hire someone who has superior skills, with nothing left to be learnt? Boasting every aspect of your skill with nothing left to be desired can ensure you are conveyed as someone who believes they know it all.
• The Totally-Incompetent-Applicant – You have worked in the same company at the same level for many years, have worked in the same role, and never committed to further self development. Even though you are highly skilled in your current profession, you are totally unsuitable for the advertised role, because the employer is looking for someone who is willing to grow with the organisation. They may also think you don’t have a good mix of skills to undertake the role because you are stale and haven't sought out new experiences.
• The Too-Full-of-Myself-Applicant – You are older than the recruiter, you present as having way too many years of experience, you sound as though you have never made a mistake in your life and perhaps you convey that you are ready to take over the company! There could be a few issues at play here; perhaps the recruiter feels threatened by your expertise, perhaps it sounds as though you could be stretching the truth, perhaps you come across as someone who will not take lightly to constructive criticism because you have done it all, none of which are favourable attributes.
• The Asking-Too-Much-Applicant – You are currently earning or asking for a significant amount more than the hiring Managers budget. The position on offer could be a great opportunity and you could be the most suitable applicant, but the company is not going to hire you if they feel you are only after the money or you will leave quickly to find a better offer.
• The I-Have-Been-Discriminated-Against-Applicant – In the litigious world we live in, a hiring Manager will never disclose the real reason they did not hire you, if that reason was because they simply did not like you, your culture, your accent, your beliefs, your religion, your tattoo, your hair! Perhaps there reasons are somewhat justified - for example, a heavy accent might be a barrier to you carrying out your duties in a phone-contact environment. Perhaps you remind the recruiter of someone they have a dislike for. Like it or not, you can be assessed on the above factors. And some of the above could be barriers to employment, depending on the job you are applying for. Oh, and if you have been successful in any legal action against an employer, do not mention it in a job interview! Justified or not, why would an employer hire someone who is a potential a risk to the organisation.
Perhaps you have identified yourself. Maybe you fit into more than one category.
What should you do? Stay tuned for methods to overcome the “Overqualified” label.