😨 9 Scary Reasons Overqualified Job Seekers are Rejected – JobMob

😨 9 Scary Reasons Overqualified Job Seekers are Rejected

If you’ve ever been told you’re overqualified, this is for you.

9 Real Reasons Overqualified Job Seekers are Rejected

Being rejected is never fun.

Being rejected for a job you wanted is not even close to being fun.

But being rejected for a job you wanted because they said you’re overqualified is a special kind of aggravation. You can clearly do the job, and you’re available, and willing, and yet… and yet… yet they still don’t want you.

Why?

As it turns out, there are many reasons why. Annoyingly but also fortunately, they don’t usually have anything to do with you.

Here are real reasons why employers are so quick to pull out the ‘overqualified’ rejection.

If you're over 35, have you ever been told explicitly that you're overqualified?


Free bonus: The Midlife Job Search Report is a handy guide I compiled for older job seekers. Download it now.

‘It’s not you, it’s me’: 9 Reasons to Reject You

1. Employer concern about being able to pay you ‘fairly’

reasons overqualified job seekers are rejected tweet

Before starting a recruitment process, employers usually know roughly how much they can afford to pay the new hire. Having more experience and skills than other candidates, employers recognize that you bring more value and are perceived as needing higher pay even if your salary requirements haven’t even been discussed yet in interviews.

If that perceived higher salary is higher than their budget for the position, ‘you’re overqualified.’

2. Employer concern about being able to keep you long enough

You’ll leave as soon as a better opportunity comes along, because “you have so many options” with your extra skills and experience compared to other candidates. Recruitment is expensive, so employers want the most return on their investment.

If employers think you’ll get recruited elsewhere sooner than later, ‘you’re overqualified.’

3. Employer concern you’ll be unwilling to do tasks ‘beneath you’

“You might be willing to do whatever the job requires, but if you’ve held equivalent or higher positions in the past, maybe there are some tasks you just won’t touch because you see your time as too valuable…” thinks a hiring manager who often themselves is unwilling to do tasks ‘beneath them.’

If employers think there’s any aspect of the job you might not do, ‘you’re overqualified.’

4. Employer concern you’ll be bored

Suppose you really are willing to do whatever the job requires. Who’s to say that you won’t ultimately find the job too easy and unchallenging, going sour and bringing down the mood at work and your colleagues with it?

If employers think you’ll get bored quickly, ‘you’re overqualified.’

If employers think you’ll get bored quickly, ‘you’re overqualified.’Click To Tweet

5. Employer concern about younger people managing older people

If your potential boss is younger, especially if they’re much younger, they might be anxious about how you’d respond to their authority. It doesn’t even matter how old you are, or if you’ve even been in a similar situation before.

If employers think your relationship with their younger manager might be a problem, ‘you’re overqualified.’

6. Manager views you as a potential internal competitor

Many bosses and managers are insecure in their roles, regardless of whether they merit them or not. But when along comes a candidate like you who might deserve their role even more – even if that’s not the job you’re currently being considered for – their forward-looking inferiority complex will push them to push you far, far away.

A job seeker once related this:

… I’ve had 2 interviews – 1 with a guy who told me I was overqualified (because he wasn’t comfortable when I asked why they were doing everything manually instead of creating a database and queries to process hundreds of applications per day) and the other offered me the job before the end of the day

If a potential boss sees you as a future threat, ‘you’re overqualified.’

7. Recruiter laziness

There’s a lot you can say in a job interview to allay frankly all of the above concerns, but only if recruiters take the time to express them to you and give you a chance to respond. The reality is that for an overwhelmed, tired or lazy recruiter, it’s just so much easier to dismiss you out of hand than to bother.

8. Recruiter excuses for other reasons they can’t or won’t give you

reasons overqualified job seekers are rejected tweet 2

In Why Recruiters Lie When Rejecting You, the Recruiting Animal says:

No recruiter gives substantial feedback. We can’t. If you’re missing specific skills and someone else has them we can tell you that because it is a matter of fact. But we can’t tell you that the hiring manager doesn’t like you because you look a bit frumpy or because you’re a drip.

And there are a lot of reasons why (over)qualified candidates can be rejected or even discriminated against: poor cultural fit, bad interviews, etc., but if you qualify for one of those, it’s just easier to say you’re overqualified.

9. Recruiter manipulation

You never had a chance, even before you came through the door. The recruiter already knows who they want to hire, but an interview quota needed to be filled. Your overqualified resume made you easy to spot as a candidate who could help fill that quota and ‘legitimately’ be rejected without raising any eyebrows from superiors.

The sad truth about being overqualified

The ‘overqualified’ rejection is usually avoidable.

The reality is that if you get rejected this way, it’s almost always because you applied for the wrong job.

Had you done your homework, you could have applied to a company that had a history of hiring people like you, and would have been much less likely to give you that ‘overqualified’ label.

Had you done your homework, you would have valued your qualities more accurately and instead been able to find an employer who does the same.

Getting a job doesn’t mean you need to compromise dramatically.

The good news

In a response to a question about startups on Quora, entrepreneur Nicholas Chavez responded:

My first mentor who had many millions of dollars taught me three valuable lessons that are applicable here:

  1. In life you don’t get what you deserve.  You get what you negotiate.
  2. Hire every overqualified mother%#$&@% you can find.
  3. If someone asks for more than you intended to pay, simply tell them “I’d love to pay you ($200k)!  Can you walk me through the model that will help me do that?

Put differently- for the startup founders employers smart enough to recognize it and willing to take you seriously, ‘overqualified’ really means ‘qualified plus benefits.’

You just need to do your homework and find them.

reasons overqualified job seekers are rejected tweet 3

Other takes

Free Bonus

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This free download contains:
  • 5 Common Mistakes Older Job Seekers Make
  • How To Defeat Any Form of Job Search Discrimination
  • How Older Job Seekers Beat These Common Stereotypes
  • 9 Scary Reasons Overqualified Job Seekers are Rejected
  • 40 Tips for Older Job Seekers That Actually Get Results
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About the Author Jacob Share

Job Search Expert, Professional Blogger, Creative Thinker, Community Builder with a sense of humor. I like to help people.

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60 comments
Jacob Share
Karalyn Brown says

Great post Jacob, one bit of feedback I hear from recruiters & employers is around what to do when someone is clearly overqualified. Do they believe them when they say they want the job and reassure them they will stick around.

There are lots of reasons people want “lesser” roles, including lifestyle choices and less stress. Perhaps over-qualified should stress where the role fits with their broader lives as well, as priorities do change as you get older.

Love the idea of your online course – keep me posted and I’ll spread the word.

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    Jacob Share
    Anne-Marie says

    I second this – and will add that there is much power in a well-written cover letter. Especially if you’re applying for jobs that would seem “below” your level of experience. People need to understand that recruiters and hiring managers can’t read minds, and sometimes when you have to wade through hundreds of resumes with tight deadlines, having answers to your concerns right in front of you can mean the difference between being successful and unsuccessful.

    Reply
      Jacob Share
      Jacob Share says

      Good insight, Anne-Marie. It’s so hard for people to put themselves in other people’s shoes, as so many job seekers have no clue what recruiters are thinking when opening their email applications.

      Reply
      Jacob Share
      Kathleen says

      Anne-Marie – I would love to hear more about what tips you would offer on how to incorporate addressing these types of concerns within the actual cover letter itself. In my particular scenario I was making 50K+ per year as a mid level manager when my position was transferred overseas to another office within our firm. I was laid off, and now I can’t even get people to respond when I apply for a data entry position that pays $13.00 per hour, but I’m stuck looking for these types of positions because I have exhausted my unemployment insurance and need to find a part time job to being something in every month.

      I would be really interested

      Kathleen

      Reply
    Jacob Share
    Philip Tonnee says

    Karalyn,
    As one who has been there, you make excellent points.
    Have had interviews where everyone was relaxed and I even made them laugh.
    Been told that I deserved a better opportunity.
    Don’t want to show desperation, my bills must be paid.

    Reply
Jacob Share
Jacob Share says

Karalyn- that’s a great tip for the right frame of mind in interviews. I’ll quote you if I do a followup.

And I’ll definitely let you know if the course moves ahead, thanks

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Jacob Share
Donald S Brant Jr says

“Overqualified” is often a “dog whistle” phrase for “too old”.

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    Jacob Share
    Jessie's girl says

    That’s not necessarily true. There are young candidates that have advanced career backgrounds but are still “overqualified” despite their age!

    Reply
      Jacob Share
      S.R. says

      Very true. I am in my mid 30’s and have worked for four (4) globally recognized brands. When I show up for an interview, people are surprised by all of the elite companies I’ve worked for. I, too, had a major health setback about a year ago and had to take some time off. I want to return to work, but I’m getting the overqualified excuse. In fact, I had one interviewer tell me that she felt I could take her job….and SHE WAS NOT JOKING! It’s been frustrating. I’ve trimmed my resume and people still feel threatened.

      Reply
      Jacob Share
      John Doe says

      There aren’t as many of those as you may think.

      Reply
    Jacob Share
    Richard Silverman says

    If you are 50+, that’s exactly what overqualified means – too old.

    Reply
      Jacob Share
      Jacob Share says

      Too often, you’re right, but not as often as you think and in some countries, things are getting better

      Reply
      Jacob Share
      Tom Hal says

      I was present during a hiring interview via a common web conferencing tool (not Skype) in which the chair of my department was speaking with several national candidates for a post-doc in our program. One of the individuals had taken time off after earning his PhD at a very competitive program to care for a dying parent. He’d remained active in publishing even while he cared for his mother for seven years, and had even given multiple poster presentations internationally every year over this time. So he was very qualified–objectively more so than anyone else. My department chair actually uttered these words in the interview: “You’re 37, aren’t you?” The man was 36, but knew better than to correct the individual who momentarily held the keys to the applicant’s future. I was stunned that one of the world’s premier research universities, at least a representative of it, could commit such a glaring breach of both state and federal law. And it happened right in front of me.

      If the most brilliant citizens schooled in the illegality of discrimination are still prone to discriminate against applicants unfairly and illegally, then anyone can. And this problem is especially prevalent in technology industries such as mine. Making matters worse, thanks to recent US Supreme Court decisions, litigation against discrimination has become even harder to prove, allowing lawbreakers to skate away scotch free.

      Our group’s newest post-doc, as of June 2016, is a 26-year-old CS engineering graduate who, though very bright and capable, simply doesn’t hold a candle to the stellar but a decade older candidate who was passed over for the crime of caring for a dying parent who had no other living relatives who could help.

      Reply
    Jacob Share
    Annie Stauffer says

    Certainly sometimes, but not always. I’m only 22, and I just graduated with a bachelor’s degree a few months ago, having had internships and other experiences in my field during my time in college. I was told I was overqualified for a position that is related to my field. I was told she was worried that I’d “get bored quickly”. I can only assume that means they either weren’t willing to pay what they THOUGHT I would ask for (which was never even discussed), or they didn’t think they could keep me there long enough for it to be worth their while. In fact, I would’ve stayed, even if I got bored, because there were many other incentives. I’m tied down to where I’m currently living, and this area does not have much to offer in the way of positions in my field, but my boyfriend, who I live with and intend to marry, has an amazing job here. So yes, I really wanted this job, would’ve taken it in a heartbeat, and wouldn’t have given up on it quickly at all. Instead, I’m going to start as a barista next week, which won’t pay much (somehow I wasn’t told I was overqualified for that?).

    By the way, I never even got to the point of an interview. This was all said over email.

    Reply
      Jacob Share
      Jacob Share says

      Thanks for sharing your story, Annie, and showing that the overqualified rejection isn’t only for older job seekers.
      Good luck with the barista job, but keep looking for something more career-related and freelance on the side too.

      Reply
Jacob Share
Dalia El-Dib says

Another problem with being overqualified is your Ph.D. It is so clear for Ph.D. holders when switching from Academia to industry due to scarcity of academic jobs that many similar aged out there in industry have much more practical/hands-on skills than themselves. Trying to join them in industry as beginners because they still need the experience is not welcome at all as Ph.D. holders are right away marked as “overqualified”. Ph.D. holders might have a shorter learning curve, but they definitely need the job and need a chance.

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Jacob Share
Dalia El-Dib says

Thanks for the great article, looking for more tips and hints.

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Jacob Share
Jacob Share says

Donald- too true, sadly

Dalia- that’s called being the victim of your own success

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Jacob Share
Garth Klatt says

There is another reason. Many employers have strict policies concerning how much an employee must be paid based on both performance and qualifications. If you are “over qualified” they may be saying “This job earns ‘x’ dollars (over a certain range) for a person with such-and-such qualifications. Your qualifications exceed the formal job requirements meaning we will be obliged by policy to pay you more than the pay scale allows should you prove competent.”

This sort of policy is very common although it often does the potential employer and employee no good. Bureaucracy.

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Jacob Share
Jacob Share says

Garth- this comes back to the first reason I gave, and I appreciate you providing a more formal illustration.

Having clear internal procedures is important for consistency and guidance, but based on the assumption of competence, employees should be hired to be trusted to make the right decisions i.e. when to be flexible and to be rigid, with procedure.

Up with balloons, down with bureaucracy, I say 🙂

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Jacob Share
John Campbell says

Put me on your list of folks interested in job seeking by older workers. I’m 60, hold a Ph.D, and retired early to start my own business. If it doesn’t pan out, I’ll be looking for a job.
-jc

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Jacob Share
suzie30 says

Over qualified means you are smarter or more mature than the interviewer and he feels threatened

He has a great fear that you will show him up as an ignorant immature fool in front of his employees.

There are some managers that deliberately take advantage of and therefore only hire ignorant people in order to feed their ego.

If they feel like you are a threat to their ego they will tell you you are overqualified

Overqualified means : I am intimidated by you.

Take it as as complement and start your own business.

Never allow any employer to define your self worth.

Most people in the corporate world are just puppets anyways.

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    Jacob Share
    Jacob Share says

    You had me until ‘start your own business.’ Even if I do actively encourage more people to start businesses, it’s not for everyone and it’s definitely not something to rush into or to decide solely because someone scorned you. But you’re right that it might be a hint to take

    Reply
Jacob Share
Tori says

I have heard people say to leave the MBA part off my resume. I am not sure if I should do that. What do you think?

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    Jacob Share
    Jacob Share says

    Dumbing down your resume to apply for a job often leads to jobs with unhappy employees, which is also bad for employers and colleagues. There are very few situations where it’s a good idea but it depends on whether you feel you have no choice (you usually do) or you simply want a simpler role that you would never get otherwise. For example, there are janitors, delivery people, etc., with PhDs, people who have already earned enough and just wanted a simple job with set hours that won’t stress them.

    Reply
Jacob Share
Robert says

Sexism, racism and ageism are against the Law in NYC, but it is practiced. How does one deal with it?

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    Jacob Share
    Jacob Share says

    Hiring discrimination is usually difficult to prove.
    It’s a good idea to use your smartphone to record your interviews so that you can analyze and learn from them after the fact, but you’d need to consult with a lawyer to see if that recording is admissible in court if you catch someone saying something blatantly illegal.

    For more:

    https://jobmob.co.il/blog/job-search-discrimination/

    Reply
Jacob Share
Sifelani Ncube says

This is so really for me; an African Australian immigrant who has not seen the inside of an interview room in five years, despite having 3 cum laude masters degrees (including a MBA) and 2 BSc honours degrees! My family is starving and all I have are these useless certificates.. I have even taken them off the wall and buried them. Its gotten that embarrasing for me. I have tried everything, yet nothing seems to be making a difference.. 🙁

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    Jacob Share
    Tom Hal says

    This! It floors me how many career experts dance around an obvious fact: many people are closed out of employment opportunities for reasons wholly unrelated to professionalism or abilities. They’re disqualified for phenotypic characteristics that in no way impact efficacy. It’s illegal. It’s profoundly hurtful. But it’s happening everywhere. Several rigorous studies from leading business schools and university social psychology departments confirm that hiring teams’ personal (non-work-related) biases bear alarmingly heavily and frequently on who wins a job offer–especially as it has become commonplace for applicants to surpass educational and experience requirements for positions and present with luminous letters of recommendation or reference. I’m sure we all remember the recent Today article entitled, “Fatties Need Not Apply,” or the countless publications about persistent–and growing–ageism, or the omnipresent discrimination against the unemployed… Since so many of us are so very qualified, employers can now choose whomever they like for positions. And the operative word in that last sentence is “like.” Discrimination in its many guises is very much alive and well in hiring. And all this before even taking into account the outrageously increasing ratio of qualified graduates to available positions.

    Reply
    Jacob Share
    Jane says

    I’m a white woman whose over r5 and I cannot find work for 5 years in ottawa Canada. I alwAys held amazing jobs all my life. I rarely get an I terview but I’m weeded out at that stage. Minorities with poor English get hired before I do and I’m certain I do a better job. I just called a local hr of a hospital and the lady told me you don’t need any experience for the jobs. Funny all my life I needed a medical education and e lwrience to get hired by a hospital now they don’t?

    Reply
Jacob Share
Bob says

Had you done your homework, you could have applied to a company that had a history of hiring people like you, and would have been much less likely to give you that ‘overqualified’ label.

That’s a ridiculous statement. How the fuck would you know the history of hiring people and what they were like. You’d have to stand in their parking lot and follow people home and then interview them. RIDICULOUS!!!!

Stupid article.

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    Jacob Share
    Jacob Share says

    Bob,
    That’s a good question.

    In How To Defeat Any Form of Job Search Discrimination, I said:

    Thinking of applying for work at a certain company?
    …take a few minutes or even an hour to search their current employees’ LinkedIn profiles, with an eye to looking for a proven track record of them having already hired people like you…. If you’re an older job seeker, look for people with 20+ years of experience who aren’t founders.

    Reply
      Jacob Share
      pigbtinmad says

      I have done just that and every company’s roster looks like the film Logan’s Run (except that in Logan’s Run, the young people did not look quite so vapid and stupid — like all they ‘ve ever done is play video games).

      Reply
        Jacob Share
        Jacob Share says

        If the current roster doesn’t conclusively answer the question, and before you go on to research a different company, do a wider LinkedIn search for former employees who might also fit the bill. If that’s not conclusive and you still want to persist, try reaching out to some of the former employees to ask about company culture regarding midlife employees. Reach out first to ex-employees you have something in common with, if there’s anyone like that. People part of the same ‘ingroup’ are more likely to respond to each other.

        Reply
Jacob Share
Bored says

Hello.

Interesting topic. Totally true: I’m from South America and Im currently looking for a job (since july). I have the same problem here. I have 7 years of experience, Postgraduate degree, finishing a Master Degree. I’ve sent at least 40 cvs during the last 4 months, I’ve got 3 interviews but no job offer. I notice that when they call, the fist thing they ask is about my desired salary. One of them, told me that my cv was good, but they weren’t sure about the salary: “we offer $xxxxx amount. Are you sure it is ok for you??”. I said yes but they did not call back. I went to another company and I presented an exam, I think I did well, but I did not hear back either. Then I searched “the boss” cv in linkedin and I found out he had less education than me, and he was about my age. Maybe they though I was too old for the role . I don’t know just guessing.
I’m not enjoying it, it is a very sad and difficult situation, not being able to work.

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Jacob Share
William Hill. says

Article is wrong on a few points.
Technically you are never overqualified for a job. That is bad to look at it that way.
You are either qualified or not.
So if you are fully qualified but a hiring manager does not want to hire you because you are too smart (not overqualified) for the job and they want to hire someone not as smart or dumber (this is a quantifyable metric by the way) then they are discriminating and you can sue their ass. Of course you will never get a job with them but they might settle a lawsuit for a few million

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    Jacob Share
    Wendy Quon says

    hiring is never black and white, unfortuantely. i was a victim of being overqualified myself. they told me that they just wanted someone who wants to be there and i need to go where i belong.

    Reply
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Tim Woods says

I have been told on multiple instances within the past six months or so that I am “overqualified” for jobs which I know require that level of expertise. Case in point, I was contacted by a recruiter about a position at a leading tech company near where I live that was looking for someone to drive global GTM efforts for a major initiative that impacted the company. The rate, while not fantastic, was definitely something I would consider and would be a huge win for me if I did it and did it well.

I submitted my resume and got it through their HR police, but then when the hiring manager saw my resume I was rejected because they wanted to hire someone that would find this position challenging. I suspect that the hiring manager for this role was very underqualified him/herself and was afraid that someone like me would make her look “bad” by doing so well.

GIven the fact that unemployment rate is still rather low (far from full employment, but still), companies should stop using this as a crutch — especially larger, more prestigious ones which will give you a foot in the door when you might not be able to get in otherwise.

tl;dr – in many cases overqualified is simply corporate-speak for “legal” age discrimination. Remember for those of you readers that are in the US (can’t say for Israel), people over 40 years old do qualified as a protected class and it’s only going to become more obvious as time proceeds.

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pigbtinmad says

It’s just BS. I would love to be one of those people with options. I have NONE ZERO OPTIONS BECAUSE APPARENTLY EVERY JOB TODAY REQUIRES THAT YOU KNOW HOW TO DESIGN AND BUILD ROCKET SHIPS. The only thing I think is rocket science IS IN FACT Rocket Science. And I tell them that in no uncertain terms. It’s like, No I have not used Salesforce, but I have used 100 different databases like it. Piece O Cake!!!! “Oh but, you didn’t grow up with the internet.”

On the other hand, when employers sit there and complain that people do not have skills (like the ability to do basic math) and then turn around and tell me I am over qualified, it burns me up and down. They never specifically say what these skills are. I mean, I am sure I can even understand data analalysis with one hour’s instruction because I was really good at Social Statistics and stuff when I was in college. But because you haven’t used the latest program dujours, you are considered an idiot. I could learn that program in ten minutes. But I can’t learn all 500 of them in hopes that there is one job that uses one of them (that will not dismiss me out of hand because of my age).

I know there is no point in applying for any of these jobs because I won’t get it. I could spend the next 10,000 hours learning all of the latest things and I wouldn’t get the job. I would be chasing something that is obsolete in a vicious game of whack a mole. I would rather spend ten minutes learning after I am hired. That is a more efficient way. But you can’t convince all these stupid HR people of that.

I do hope that the terrible practices of business do finally cause it to implode on itself. Maybe try providing a decent service instead of making profits by buying a successful product, then gutting it and providing no customer service. It makes people disgruntled and angry.

I don’t much care anymore because with any luck I will be dead within the year, but I sure hope the future is one big miserable $#!T $#0W and you suffer 1000X for it.

That is my hope for the future.

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    Jacob Share
    Jacob Share says

    I feel you.

    Don’t give up.

    At the very least, look for companies that are still using the older databases you do know and propose to consult or train employees for them. Medium to large companies in particular are slow in upgrading legacy services and that’s your opportunity. In parallel, search for opensource projects that are aiming to help companies ween themselves off the legacy services, and contribute to those projects. It’s win-win and a great way to attract employer attention.

    Reply
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T Frank Bojczuk says

Having made nearly 41,000 job applications (UK) I feel its time to quit and become a bum. So what keeps me keep going – because Einstein said if you do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result your off your trolley. May be someone out there can help. No not to become a bum but to find out what’s going on?!!!

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    Jacob Share
    Jacob Share says

    Frank, whether it’s 41,000 or just 41, that’s a lot!
    In the comments above, I’ve given a few tips on using LinkedIn to find people who should be sympathetic to your job search. Give those tips a try, regarding job leads or simply to get some resume feedback from people familiar with your skills.

    Reply
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Summary Sunday: Addressing Pesky Job Search and Career Issues | Career Sherpa says

[…] 9 Scary Reasons Overqualified Job Seekers are Rejected […]

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pigbitinmad says

Regarding those who are afraid you will leave. I have been bashing my brains out for more than a decade trying to find a full-time job. It’s not like I have choices. I don’t care if I hated it and want to commit suicide every single day I will stick with the rotten job for as long as they pay me. I hate job hunting and would rather crawl over broken glass and barbed wire eight hours a day than do it.

I have not seen one company that is willing to hire anyone my age. I can’t see who the competition is so I don’t know if they have more skills than I do (judging by my skills relative to that of my former coworkers I would say that is not the problem). But recently I was interviewed by an extremely perky 25 year old girl who asked all sorts of canned questions culminating in the dreaded “What animal would you be.” I tried to laugh it off and answered it but I really wanted to punch her in the face.

Really, I am beginning to understand why the enemies of the United States feel the way they do. The country is run by a bunch of vapid, no class bimbos who never read a single book in their life who really believe that my answer to the animal question is going to determine my culture fit. The whole idea of culture fit is complete BS anyway. I hope to god all these Silicon Valley idiots do what they say they want to do build their own man made island and go live on it. Then hopefully some enterprising dictator (Putin) will drop an atom bomb on it.

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Jacob Share
💥 How To Defeat Job Search Discrimination Today says

[…] it must be true. Otherwise, being overqualified wouldn't be such a common rejection. Instead, companies would consider the best, most hireable candidates to be the ones with the […]

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Kimberly says

Average article, nothing insightful or even helpful. What I really found to be pathetic, however, is how you blamed the individual for the employer labeling them as over-qualified.

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😤 25 Ways to Breathe Life into a Painfully Long Job Search says

[…] can be tricky as employers may see you as overqualified and you may be frustrated by not being able to show off all that you can do. All that really […]

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Kristen Fife says

I take great offense at your characterizations of recruiters as lazy and manipulative as a whole. Many candidates think it is recruiter that make hiring decisions; it isn’t. It is the hiring manager that has the full and final say in whom s/he hires, so don’t pin the blame on recruiters for “knowing who they want to hire”. Our job is to evaluate, qualify and present qualified candidates to the hiring manager, then to act as the “agent of sale” when it comes time to make the offer. And the hiring manager is the one that decides on the final salary, not the recruiter. You should get your facts right before you go lambasting tens of thousands of professionals.

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Jacob Share
Marie says

I’m so beyond frustrated. The recession changed everything and companies have very fixed policies which don’t make sense as it doesn’t always align to reality. What about special circumstances? Why is it not about being ready and able to work along with being qualified and end it there. But no, if you have all these skills we have to pay you more but what about folks that really need to work or young people who need time to build their careers. I can personally attest to this. I left a job due to a serious stress related illness (shingles) and developed severe anxiety and depression also. I found that working for a large firm on a higher level with more demands became problematic quickly. I resolved to look at smaller companies in lesser roles but each time was looked at as if I was crazy and not once got hired. The jobs weren’ there so people had to interview for others. People became disgruntled when they lost everything and were rejected so many times. Some people were happy to work in lesser roles. Companies even told me “They knew I could walk in right then and do that job really well but I didn’t belong there.” She told me her daughter worked for another organization and I should do that too just because I looked young and pretty. This is a hinderence too because they assume you are too soft or dumb or something. I was young at the time but I’m not your daughter. Then I was told by The CEO that she didn’t want a worm working their way into her company. I was just there to answer phones. They thought oh she’s very talented she’ll have no trouble finding work..but if everyone thinks that way I won’t get hired. I keep getting passed over oh she’ll find something. I needed to work and could work well in smaller roles for smaller firms. They say there is no bias but there is, so I interview with hr but at the end of the day I;m not going to be working with that hr person each day so why does it matter. It matters to the team i’m working with so wtf HR. I’ve given up after at least 6 years. It’s screwed up. I tried for years but finally gave up and now my career is lost. I’ve had so many temp to perm roles but companies were going under so I had to keep looking and they assumed I’m a job hopper. Sometimes I’d work two jobs at once and now my resume just looks scattered. It’s just a piece of paper… Many hr professionals I interviewed with who judged me are no longer in those roles. Just saying.

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Jacob Share
Abe says

I just want to add my two cents worth here because this morning I woke up to receive yet another email out of countless rejection emails mentioning the company has decided to spend its time on candidates that better fit its needs. I’m interested in non-profit community service work, especially working with the homeless, those (ironically) plagued by under- and unemployment, and affordable housing. I have many years’ experience in each field and multiple degrees, with publications and national talks, in each. I used to do, as this article suggests, my homework on companies–rigorously researching fidelity to the company’s mission statement, administration, culture… I networked on LinkedIn, paid handsomely to have my résumé professionally polished, learned about keywords and how to give my cover letter personal sparkle… But after a certain age, I simply stopped getting any bites. Even in non-profit community service, despite my history working with state and federal agencies and publishing in the field. Imagine my shock that organizations serving the highest needs communities–communities that desperately need qualified people working for them–should cavalierly reject qualified applicants for reasons that have nothing to do with being able to get the job done efficiently.

Then, needing a job, I began applying for lower and lower wage positions. I removed first one then another degree from my résumé. I applied for positions working with homeless youths, rehabilitative care, HIV education advocacy–all well within my experience. I went back to school, spending thousands on multiple certificates to update my skills–including unpaid internships. Invariably, either I’d hear nothing back from the organizations I applied to or I’d get the generic rejection above. Mind you, I’ve sought feedback politely from hiring managers (I never get any) and paid professional career counselors to review my documents. I’ve even paid two stylists and a social media company to manage my wardrobe, professional online photos, and my online presence. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

And yes, I’ve addressed succinctly and authentically with even near-minimum-wage positions I’ve applied for the apparent discrepancy between my professional history and the nature of the low-wage jobs I’m applying for. I’ve let agencies know just why I’m passionate about their organization (which I demonstrate deep familiarity with) and their target communities. Doesn’t help.

I’ve concluded that there is a single underlying problem contributing to the inability of people like me to get jobs. There are simply far too many qualified applicants for every position. This means that employers can hire people they LIKE rather than the most qualified. That’s the soft-variable often categorized as “cultural fit” and it comes dangerously close, too often, to discrimination. And all the online tips about how to get noticed or allay the fears of employers or… cannot address the fundamental supply-demand dynamic. Employers hold all the cards so feel empowered to do whatever they want. Neither degrees nor experience nor personal passion will win you a job if you just happen to be someone who, through no fault of your own, employers don’t like. Just ask the over-40 crowd.

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Jacob Share
KLI says

I look forward to the day when job advice sites stop blaming job hunters for an employers poor judgement.

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    Jacob Share
    Jacob Share says

    If an employer shows poor judgement in not hiring you, thank them for not getting hired by an employer with poor judgement.

    The reality is that on the one hand, most job hunters never learned how to job hunt. On the other hand, many employers *also* never learned how to hire. Consequence: there will be a lot of poor judgement by employers – to their loss and job hunters’ – but it’s not a job hunter’s job to teach an employer how to hire. It IS a job hunter’s job to teach an employer to hire *them* however, so yes, the onus is first on the job hunter.

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