What to do when you are overqualified for a job

Updated: Oct 18, 2019

When you are applying for jobs, being told that you are being dismissed because you're "overqualified" for a job you know you could do well is incredibly frustrating.

Here's what the hiring managers think when they label job candidates overqualified and what you should do.

We can't pay you enough

Employers will often assume that if you have more experience or education than the job requires, your salary expectations are probably higher than the role pays too.

Be flexible on salary

Be prepared to take a pay cut if you want a job you could have taken several years ago. Make it clear you're not expecting what you were getting because you know this role has less responsibility.

If you take this job, you'll be bored

Hiring managers often think that someone who used to do higher-level or more exciting work can't possibly be happy with less challenging responsibilities, and they assume that you'll quickly get bored, and then frustrated.

Sell the advantages

Emphasize that you are plenty capable of doing the job in question and that your abundance of qualifications means you can assume greater responsibilities in less time than it would take to train someone else.

You won't be happy working for a manager with less experience than you

If you have significantly more experience than the hiring manager, she/he may worry that you won't be happy or comfortable taking direction from her/him and that you'll think you know better.

Don't oversell yourself on your resume

It may not seem to make sense not to want to highlight all of your accomplishments on your resume, but when applying for a position you're overqualified for, you want to focus specifically on roles and responsibilities that align with the prospective position.

You'll leave as soon as something better comes around

The hiring managers often assume that you're only interested in the job because you're feeling desperate. They figure you'll take it for the paycheck, but that you'll leave as soon as something more suited to your background comes along.

Emphasize your longevity

Explain why you want this specific job, and be upfront with the hiring manager during the interview that you understand this may be a concern—but that it's one they need not worry about it.

Golden tip: Use the cover letter to explain yourself

Ideally, you'd address this in the cover letter, to avoid having your application discarded before you've even had an interview. If you don’t make clear why the job in question is actually a good fit at this point in your life, all the hiring manager can think that your application doesn’t make sense.


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