I’ve had the experience in the past of being hired for jobs that I felt were over my head, and was frequently anxious, wondering if I was doing a good job. Friends would always say, “They know what they’re doing. If they didn’t think you could do it, they wouldn’t have hired you.” Eventually I would settle in and feel better about things.
But recently I’ve come across the opposite problem: An employer telling me I may be overqualified. How does one judge that? Is that a hiring manager’s catch phrase for “We’ll have to pay her too much”? Or is it a legitimate fear that I may be bored too quickly and want to leave?
Believe me, the way things are going–in the country and for me, personally–I don’t feel overqualified. I don’t really bore easily, especially when it comes to some jobs. I like proofreading and copyediting; I like looking for and correcting mistakes, it makes me feel good to have something come out correctly. No, I don’t want a minimum wage job, but I’m really open to anything right now. I don’t have to have the same title I had before, and, if I can get in the door of a decent, stable company, it’s a positive thing, no matter what the job. With hope, I can eventually move up.
An article on CNN says, “… it’s a Catch 22 that many job seekers face today. They can’t get hired for positions relevant to their experience so they apply for jobs at lower levels. The problem is that they can’t get hired for those positions, either, because they’re overqualified.”
“When an interviewer makes this statement,” according to A Great Resume Service, “it basically means they think you have too many years of experience, you want too much money, your education is more than what is required, or they see the job as being a step down from where you are now in your career and are afraid you will jump ship.
“Conversely, maybe they didn’t like the clothes you wore to the interview, maybe one of your references did not have tremendously glowing comments about you, there may be many other reasons. However, the company will never say, ‘Well, it looked like you slept in your suit last night,’ or ‘One of your references must have been having a bad day.’ So hence the old ‘you are overqualified‘ statement is used.”
Both of these articles give suggestions for what to say in response. My favorite two (from “A Great Resume Service“) were:
- “Most people would say that I am not overqualified but fully qualified. May I ask you a question–could you please tell me the problem you have with someone doing the job better than you expected?” and
- “The job we are discussing is so attractive to me I will sign a contract committing to stay with your company for one year. How else can I persuade you I’m the best person for this role?”