What to do when you’re overqualified

what to do when you're overqualified

One of the biggest challenges we face as jobseekers is how we find a position that matches our career ambitions with our skills and experience.

But it’s not just a lack of appropriate qualifications that can be a hindrance. As strange as it can sometimes seem, being overqualified can be a Catch-22 situation, and is often just as frustrating as any other reason for rejection.

Here are a few tips to help you deal with being overqualified:

 1. Be honest with yourself

First things first: Are you actually overqualified?

If the answer’s yes, think carefully about why you’re going for this position. Chances are you have a number of legitimate reasons, which could easily be communicated on your CV or directly to your interviewer when the question comes up.

Examples of possible reasons may include:

  • Relocation
  • To achieve a better work/life balance
  • A desire to change industry or profession
  • The opportunity to work remotely
  • The position you’re applying for is more convenient or within an area you wish to specialise in

These are by no means the only possible motives, so try to think about your individual reasons and ensure you’ve thought them through before moving forward.

 2. Tailor your CV and covering letter to every position  

This point is applicable to every jobseeker (without exception), however, it is definitely worth reiterating here.

CVs are frequently used by individuals to over-state and embellish their personal achievements. Whilst there is nothing wrong with this approach, it’s important to try a slightly different tack in this situation.

Instead of concentrating on your qualifications and professional accomplishments, place your focus on the skills you possess which will make you a great fit for the role.    

 3. Show a desire for the position

From a recruiter’s point of view, there are many reasons why a candidate being overqualified might not be desirable. However, regardless of the size or stature of the employer, the main reservation will almost always be that you are not in the job for the long-haul.

In order to combat this, showing a genuine desire for the role is vital. Always ensure that you demonstrate, not only your ability to do the job, but also that you really want the job.  

Additionally, you can try suggesting signing a minimum length contract (usually between 12 and 18 months) to help convince them of your commitment. Even if this cannot be done, it should help to allay their fears and assure them that they won’t have to start the costly hiring process again anytime soon.   

 4. Take emphasis away from salary

With more experience under your professional-belt than many other applicants, some hiring managers may be concerned when it comes to your salary expectations.

Show recruiters your flexibility when it comes to salary, and explain that you only expect to be paid the current market rate for the position.

Not sure what salary you should expect? Use our salary checker now.

 5. Look harder for positions for which you are qualified

If you’ve tried all of the above, and/or you’re consistently being told that you’re overqualified, it may be time to aim a little higher.

By simply making your overall application more dedicated to the specific role, and making yourself come across as more aspirational, you may be able to find a position that better matches your abilities that you never would have considered previously.

Struggling to find your perfect position? Get your job search started now.

Final thoughts

  • Don’t highlight any fears you have about being overqualified in the interview. You may just be talking them out of hiring you instead of selling yourself.
  • Never explain your motives for a position from a purely financial standpoint – no employer wants to be considered as an ‘easy pay cheque’.
  • If directly asked about being overqualified, don’t panic. Simply state that you have decided to take a position that allows you to work to your strengths – then elaborate
  • Finally, whatever your circumstances, don’t underestimate yourself. You might be just the candidate your ideal employer is looking for, so don’t be tempted to sell yourself short.