Job Hunting Tips

How to Tackle Being Overqualified When Applying for a New Job!

Ben Wheeler Posted by Ben
min read
Kaleidico 7lryof J0 H9s Unsplash

If you have been in the job market on more than one occasion in your career, it is likely your application may have been rejected at some stage, for the reason of being ’overqualified’.  This causes immense frustration, as all too often this judgement is made in seconds, based on false assumptions by the potential employer or hiring manager.

There are often several reasons why you would consider a lower level position.  This might be a result of being burnt out in a previous position; the desire to achieve a work/life balance; returning to work after a parental break; or you just need a job.

Below are the top reasons job seekers’ applications are rejected for being ’overqualified’ and how to overcome them.

You will get bored

The role you have applied for is at a lower level than your previous positions and it just won’t be challenging enough for you… 

This could be very well be the reason why you even applied!  So, the hiring manager either thinks you just made a mistake or in most cases does not understand your motivations.  The only way to address this is, head on.  This could be in your cover letter/CV or interview.  It will be a matter of informing whomever you need to, it is a genuine reason.

We can’t pay you enough

You have had some high-level roles and it is clear you will have earned a much higher salary… 

The person short-listing thinks you can’t possibly know how much this role is paying as you would not have applied.  They have made a big assumption you will not ’meet the market’ rate for such a position and will be basing your salary expectations on your experience, which they can’t afford.  Make it obvious you are completely flexible about salary and you will ’meet the market’ for the role. 

You have more experience than the Manager


Well it shouldn’t be, they could choose to see it as a positive.  You will be able to draw on this experience to add-value to your employer, but there is a chance the line manager could feel threatened.  Again, you will need to convey your motivations but also you will have to placate this line manager.  Think about it from their perspective and turn it into a positive.

You are only taking this until something better comes around

This scenario often applies to those who have recently found themselves out of work.  It can be a very difficult position to be in as employers think you will be using them as a ’stop gap’. 

Is this just a ’re-bound job’?  Let them know you are fully aware of the job and believe it is a great long-term fit for you.

You won’t be ’hands-on’

If your CV gives a high-level summary of strategic goals you achieved, it is unlikely to give the vibe of someone that is ’hands-on’.  This is often used to reject applicants and some candidates can find it very hard to convince the employer they can be a ’doer’.

Break down the smaller parts of any projects or responsibilities to demonstrate you have not just been ‘over-seeing’ and mention the relevant skills for the role to which you have applied.

Finally, make sure you are always positive and enthusiastic about your job applications.  It goes a long way!