‘We don’t want to hire you because you’re overqualified.’
This can be one of the most frustrating reasons for a candidate to not get a job. It is almost like being told, ‘you’re too good, which is why we don’t want you.’ How do you respond to this? Is it a compliment or a cop out? Why wouldn’t you want somebody who is great in your business?
The Problems (from a hiring managers point of view):
YOU’RE A FLIGHT RISK - You’ll get bored in the role. If you’re in a position which isn’t using your full skill-set and is not challenging, you will get bored. There is a worry that you will only stay with that company until something better comes along, which would leave them in a position where they need to re-hire your position anyway and good recruitment is not cheap!
TOO MANY COOKS SPOIL THE BROTH - You could have similar skill-set, or even be more qualified than your line manager and this could cause numerous problems. Firstly, whether knowingly or not you could be constantly undermining your line managers position, which could make them feel uncomfortable and disrupt the harmony within the office and potentially result in a member of their management team leaving.
YOU DON’T VALUE YOURSELF - If you’re applying for a position which is below you, why don’t you value what you’d bring to the business? Believe in your abilities. And if you’re content not challenging yourself in your role, what does that tell a potential employer about your mindset and attitude? Would you believe somebody could be passionate about their job if it doesn’t genuinely interest them?
THERE GENUINELY ISN’T SPACE FOR YOU - ‘I’ll take this lower role so I can work my way up’, it is a fair thought to have, but here is why it doesn’t always make sense for a hiring manager: There isn’t always space to go up and grow as quickly as you’d like within a business and to fulfil your ambitions you would have to leave the business anyway. From a business perspective, why hire you in the first place if you’re only going to leave in a few months or a years’ time anyway? It takes them back to square one.
IT IS A WASTE – As a hiring manager, would you want to be responsible for putting somebody in a role where they are underutilised and not frustrated when you could be employing somebody who would benefit from the experience? Hiring managers have a conscience too!
Is it a cop out?
Sometimes, yes. Frustratingly this is part and parcel of everyday life, sometimes people make excuses without good reason. People don’t have grandparents who pass away, are resurrected and pass away again. But if a company uses shoddy reasons to not hire you, is that somewhere you’d want to work anyway?
You could absolutely hit the ground running in that role, but you could soon run out of ground within the business and hit a wall. This brings us back to the problem of getting bored. In the short-term it could be great and absolutely in the businesses best interests, but you could get bored. So in that sense, it is not a cop out.
What can you do about it?
When could it benefit the business? If you’re joining a start-up or even an SME business who have ambitious growth plans, or have already demonstrated ambitious growth, taking a position which you’re overqualified for could be beneficial for all parties involved. For example, if you’re happy to get your hands dirty and grow with the business, in no time you may be in a role which is bigger and more challenging than you could have ever wished for (at this point in your career). It will also mean you’re an integral part of the overall business.
Be realistic, do your skills and career goals genuinely match with what the employer is looking for or are you trying to force a square peg into a round hole?
I’d love to hear your opinion on this topic. Have you ever not hired somebody because they are overqualified? Have you been told you’ve not got the job because you’re overqualified? Are there any other reasons why being overqualified would not be positive?