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Understanding the “you are overqualified” rejection


When looking for a job and seeing a vacancy that you have all the ideal experience as well as the skills required to fill the role and still being turned down, hearing “you are overqualified”, can really affect your confidence.

In a job market where the opportunities are few and talent is high, recruiters and employers can receive 300 to 400 job applications per vacant role. However, hiring managers are not automatically going to employ who they can get the most experience from…to understand this reasoning, we generated a list of why companies are mindful of hiring overqualified job seekers:

1. The job seeker will leave at the first opportunity for something better as soon as the market picks up

When a new employee starts at a company, the employer will spend weeks and sometimes months of resources on orientation and collaborated handovers with the new employee. If the employee does not stay long term (more than 1 year), these resources are wasted and the company loses momentum and overall productivity.

2. The job seeker will become bored in the role

Even though the job seeker may have the best intentions to begin with, the day to day operational tasks of the role may become increasing boring and mind numbing for them. This could eventually lead to productivity and motivational issues.

3. It may upset the internal hierarchy

Whether done unintentionally or not, more experienced job seekers may challenge their manager who has less experience or create disruption.

4. The job seeker may ask for more money reflective of their experience

This may not occur instantly but many over qualified candidates expect to be promoted faster and be compensated for their skills. Unless there is a company need for higher levels, this situation can become increasingly frustrating and unproductive for both parties.

5. The hiring process can be costly therefore it is important to appoint the right person.

Bad hires are one of the biggest expenses of a HR team with about 8% of vacancies filled are with bad hires that either leave or are let go within the first year.

To combat an employer’s past experience or mind set, below are benefits that you can utilise to your advantage:

  • You will on-board quickly and require less supervision as you will be able to become fully operational faster than other candidates
  • You will have better insights and advanced skills that will enable you to see opportunities that others may not
  • You will have leadership potential or even prior experience that will lift and expand their talent pipeline
  • You are a high achiever that not only hits the ground running but will achieve the company’s objectives faster

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Nicole Picone

Branding and Marketing Consultant

strategic branding and marketing champion, who believes that all marketing and communication activities starts with analysing the end user’s statistics and behaviours.