😨 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

The Midlife Job Search Report is a handy guide I compiled to help older job seekers.

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
Click the image below to get access to The Midlife Job Search Report: The One Job Interview Resource You'll Ever Need download button

JobMob Insiders can get this free bonus and other exclusive content in the JobMob Insider Bonuses area. Join now, it's free!

Subscribe to JobMob via email and follow me on Twitter for more qualified job search answers and tips.

47 Comments

  1. Jacob Share Karalyn Brown April 23, 2015
    • Jacob Share Anne-Marie August 26, 2015
      • Jacob Share Jacob Share August 28, 2015
      • Jacob Share Kathleen February 16, 2016
    • Jacob Share Philip Tonnee October 25, 2016
  2. Jacob Share Jacob Share April 23, 2015
  3. Jacob Share Donald S Brant Jr May 7, 2015
    • Jacob Share Jessie's girl March 21, 2016
      • Jacob Share S.R. March 7, 2017
      • Jacob Share John Doe July 29, 2017
    • Jacob Share Richard Silverman June 21, 2016
      • Jacob Share Jacob Share June 21, 2016
      • Jacob Share Tom Hal August 3, 2016
    • Jacob Share Annie Stauffer August 10, 2016
      • Jacob Share Jacob Share August 10, 2016
  4. Jacob Share Dalia El-Dib May 7, 2015
  5. Jacob Share Dalia El-Dib May 7, 2015
  6. Jacob Share Jacob Share May 7, 2015
  7. Jacob Share Garth Klatt May 8, 2015
  8. Jacob Share Jacob Share May 8, 2015
  9. Jacob Share John Campbell June 12, 2015
  10. Jacob Share suzie30 July 22, 2015
    • Jacob Share Jacob Share July 22, 2015
  11. Jacob Share Tori March 4, 2016
    • Jacob Share Jacob Share March 5, 2016
  12. Jacob Share Robert March 31, 2016
    • Jacob Share Jacob Share March 31, 2016
  13. Jacob Share Sifelani Ncube May 30, 2016
    • Jacob Share Tom Hal August 3, 2016
    • Jacob Share Jane February 13, 2017
  14. Jacob Share Bob October 7, 2016
    • Jacob Share Jacob Share October 9, 2016
      • Jacob Share pigbtinmad April 20, 2017
        • Jacob Share Jacob Share April 21, 2017
  15. Jacob Share Bored November 17, 2016
  16. Jacob Share William Hill. December 8, 2016
    • Jacob Share Wendy Quon January 31, 2017
      • Jacob Share Jacob Share February 3, 2017
  17. Jacob Share Tim Woods April 6, 2017
    • Jacob Share Jacob Share April 21, 2017
  18. Jacob Share pigbtinmad April 20, 2017
    • Jacob Share Jacob Share April 21, 2017
  19. Jacob Share T Frank Bojczuk April 25, 2017
    • Jacob Share Jacob Share April 25, 2017
  20. Jacob Share pigbitinmad May 24, 2017
    • Jacob Share Manny July 6, 2017
  21. Trackbacks

    1. […] 9 Scary Reasons Overqualified Job Seekers are Rejected […]

    2. […] 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 […]

Leave a Reply

Ready for your pre-employment assessment?Start practicing now
+ +
1.4K Shares
Share685
Share489
Pin106
Tweet103
Stumble