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14 Aug

Overqualified and rejected! Why don’t employers take advantage of your skills?

Of course, rejection hurts, but to tell your friends and family (and yourself) that you were turned down because you were too skilled or too experienced is much less bruising on the ego. For companies looking to reject candidates, using the word “overqualified” may take some of the sting and fear of retribution out of the rejection. But is it true?

Being overqualified for a job does not necessarily improve your chances of getting hired. Hiring managers may view “overqualified” as:

  • Being less committed to the company and having more outside opportunities.
  • The employer is not able to pay you fairly for your skills.
  • Worried you will be bored and unwilling to do tasks below your skills level.
  • Line manager worried about managing a more experienced individual and their own job security.
  • Concerns you will not stay long and are merely taking this job as there are no suitable opportunities at this time.

Dare I say that ageism might be a problem – but in my experience some of the self-diagnosed claims of ageism are from candidates who spent many years working for the same company and have not focused on keeping their skills up to date. The problem often isn’t age, it is relevance to the employer.

If you feel you are overqualified, what can you do:

  1. Investigate the meaning of you’re “overqualified”:
    • Check that your required compensation is in-line with what companies are paying for your set of qualifications.
    • Present yourself at interviews as someone who will not become easily bored when working on less challenging tasks.
    • Making it clear at interviews that you want the job and explain why you want the job.
  2. Make sure your skills are relevant and being sought by companies – Invest time to learn an emerging technology or developing some niche speciality that isn’t already flooded.
  3. Write down the top reasons you think a company should hire you, and make sure these are represented in your job search materials (resume, email application, cover letters).
  4. Take a new look at your options beyond the traditional career paths:
    • Have you considered consulting or contracting roles, where your guidance and mentoring skills could be justified and valued for temporary periods?
    • Are there emerging markets that interest you?

Terms like “overqualified” and “not a fit” are unfortunately the laziest, easiest, and safest ways that companies can reject you for a position, and they almost always mean something else. Discovering the real reason you were passed up is necessary to make the proper adjustments, so you get less rejections and more offers.

At Danos Associates we meet and assess technically and culturally every candidate to ensure the best match for our clients. We are proud of our close client relationships and our understanding of their needs, to ensure that the best candidates are presented.  We use our experience and market knowledge to assist and advise clients throughout the whole process, ultimately helping them land the best person for the role. We are there throughout to keep things moving and make sure the search is on point.   

If you are recruiting or are looking to move jobs within Compliance, Risk, or Legal then please contact us today – info@danosassociates.com.

  • Author

    Paul Geist

    Associate Partner, Compliance

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