"Overqualified," the Ugly Myth

Lately, I’ve been approached by several well-educated and experienced professionals who are having trouble landing a job. Many of them have started taking out their education and some of their experiences off their resume (tsk tsk) in the hopes of landing that desired job. Why? Due to the reason they keep hearing from these employers, they are “overqualified.”

I personally believe that the term “overqualified” is an ugly myth. I believe this myth was started by the employer’s hiring manager who couldn’t simply speak the truth to their candidates.

An employer tells you, “sorry but you are overqualified for this position”, when in reality s/he meant to say, “you are not what we are looking for.” Plain and simple. There are several reasons why an employer will use that overqualified line. However, that line can cause you, the job seeker, a hit in your confidence. After getting that line, you are walking out thinking you are overqualified for a job you are qualified for. You start searching for jobs with either less or more requirements and you can easily end up in a job that doesn’t satisfy you.

As a job seeker, you need to know what you are applying for and if in fact you qualify for that position. Only you can determine whether or not you qualify based on your evaluation of the company culture and what you can offer to them.

It used to be believed that when an employer stated that a candidate was overqualified, they were referring to their age. According to a post by Starflight Corporation, it’s not necessarily about age but a lot about how the employer’s hiring manager who may feel threatened by the candidate being more skilled than them or in making a “bad hire” decision. Hiring managers can be reprimanded for costing the company money with “bad hires.”

Here’s a scenario to consider: At an interview that is going well, the employer asks, “don’t you think you are overqualified for this position?” How do you answer a question about being qualified? You simply showcase to them how you can take on several roles with your many talents. This appeals to the employer that you are worth the investment as in the long run, you’ll be saving them a lot of money. I think this question is great because they want to know what you determined from your evaluation of the company and what you can offer them.

However, if they give you this line as the reason behind why you weren’t hired, ask them for constructive feedback and/or simply end the conversation on a positive note. Believe me, you do not want to be disappointed, if anything be happy. If an employer can’t give you honest feedback and be honest with you in your face, then it’s not a place you want to work at in the first place.

As you go out there, stay confident and do not let that ugly myth near your confidence!

One thought on “"Overqualified," the Ugly Myth

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  1. I honestly never know what to think when I get a reasoning of “you’re overqualified” when told that I did not land the position. These days the competition for even a menial job is fierce so I understand the reasoning of removing certain skills from your resume. The landlord wants money and he isnt going to care if you, the skilled person you are, are getting told you are overqualified for a job.

    Overall, I have always thought the “overqualified” thing is usually a cop out. The business world is kabuki theater which means that sometimes a harsh reality is sugarcoated with a gentle gesture. I dont mind people exercising politeness to me even when they are the bearer of bad news, but I wish that some of the theater tricks would go away and just tell me “like it is”.

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