What to Do When You Are Rejected for Being Overqualified

During my time as a recruiter, I have matched countless candidates to a wide variety of skills and positions, and I can say confidently – you never know what’s around the corner.  

I have seen all manner of hiring partnerships and recruiting trends come and go over the years. 

But increasingly, there has been a rise in the number of candidates being turned away from even executive roles for being ‘overqualified’. 

This is as frustrating for me as I know it is for the candidate – but it is also understandable. 

In recruiting, being told that you are overqualified usually means that the hiring manager thinks you are either going to get boredbecome unsatisfied too quickly or that you are using this role as a steppingstone until something better comes along. 

But as the world of work has changed around us, there is not one ‘set’ trajectory for many careers or professions anymore. It is now quite common for candidates of all abilities to seek out new challenges – a change of career direction, training in an area you have always been interested in or a move to a new city; there are plenty of reasons for candidates of all abilities apply for a range of roles. 

This has led to a mismatch between the available roles and the types of people applying – and it has led to some confusion for hiring managers. 

If you have been turned away from a role and the reason was that you were ‘overqualified’, it can be disheartening, but, remember – you aren’t the only one.  

This article discusses the current issue of ‘overqualified’ applicants and what to do if you find yourself in this situation.  

 

Go Direct (to the Recruiter or Hiring Manager) 

 

 

This is probably the most crucial piece of advice I have, and so I’ll cover it first. 

If you are applying to a role direct or using a recruiter, make sure you speak directly to the hiring manager (or get the recruiter to talk to them on your behalf) to position yourself before you start your formal application. 

This is a critical step as it allows you to explain your situation. Yes, you might be applying for a role which they consider is below your level of expertise, but there’s a reason for it – and this is your opportunity to explain your situation, showing how serious you are about the position. 

This will put the hiring manager at ease and set you apart from the other applicants. It is such an easy way to give yourself an advantage over the other applicants, but you would be surprised as to how many candidates overlook it.  

 

Explain Your Position 

 

 

Often, when an HR manager is looking at a CV or Resume of someone who they think is overqualified, they presume that you will get bored in your position or move on quickly.  

Yes, you may be overqualified for the role, but in explaining exactly why you are applying for this job at this time, it will put their mind at ease. 

Another reason I see candidates being rejected is the belief that the company will not be able to afford them due to their extensive experience. 

This is one of the times when I would suggest mentioning salary at an earlier opportunity. You don’t have to be explicit, but if you really want the job, it’s worth mentioning at the start of your conversation that you are aware this might be an issue, and that you are prepared to negotiate.  

 

Sell Your Transferable Skills 

 

 

Being rejected for being ‘overqualified’ for a job can be a confusing time for any job seeker. If it were a relationship, we’d be hearing the words ‘it’s not you, it’s me’… 

There are plenty of reasons for the hiring manager to hire you, but they often get put off initially by the perceived imbalance of skills and/or salary expectations. 

In your initial talk with the hiring manager, be sure to highlight your transferable skills. Demonstrate your communication skills, teamwork/team leader experience (if applicable), organisational skills, adaptability and work ethic. 

Likewise, it can be a sensible idea to downplay particular previous experience if it is irrelevant to the position you are applying for.  

For example, if you have previously held a few different management roles and are now applying for a lower-level position, you might only include the most recent post. Similarly, you might want to omit a higher-level position you held in a field unrelated to the job you are currently applying. 

Finally, as recruiters, we strongly advise tailoring your CV specifically to each role you apply for. 

 

How Your Recruiter Can Help 

A recruiter can help guide you through the process of applying for jobs that your CV might not align with, whatever the reason. 

A good recruiter will be able to help you tailor your CV to the positions that you want, will be able to guide you through the interview with their expertise, and crucially, they can be the key to getting you the interviews you really want in the first place.  

If you have been turned down for a position you truthfully wanted for being ‘overqualified’ and aren’t sure what your next steps should be, speak to a recruiter, like the experts at Jobfitts. 

 

Thanks, 

Amrutha Murali