Much like the classic dating brush aside, “it’s not you; it’s me” comes the more recent job hunter letdown, “you’re overqualified.” It’s frustrating, it’s vague, and it closes your case without being offensive – but what exactly does it mean? Quite possibly, it could be exactly what it sounds like – the employer feels you are too far beyond the job’s scope and will leave the second another opportunity comes along – or, it could mean the employer just does not see you as a fit for one reason or another. According to Rebecca Knight in an article for the Harvard Business Review, the goal in applying for these jobs is to keep the hiring manager from turning you away for your overqualifications.

Don’t downplay your qualifications to avoid appearing overqualified. Instead, use your know-how to your advantage!


Do elaborate (and if at all possible, give examples) on how your advanced skills, knowledge, and experience will make a measurable, quality contribution to the position.
Don’t be afraid to contact the “right people” – think the people in positions 2 or so levels ahead of you. These people will be able to understand (and appreciate) your value, won’t be threatened by it, and most importantly, are in a position to help you get hired!
Do be convincing. Why do you belong in this position? Understand the company’s business and their challenges, including immediate as well as long-term goals so you can successfully piece yourself into the puzzle. Employers want to know their hires will prove to be a good return on investment. Show them your value!
Don’t assume the employer knows where (or why) you will fit. Perhaps you’ve been deemed “overqualified” because even though they are impressed, they just don’t know what to do with you. Demonstrate your understanding of the business and itemize your contributions.
Do keep in mind that not now, does not mean never. A ‘no’ today could easily turn into a ‘yes’ sooner than you think! Sometimes “overqualified” comes down to a matter of timing.
Do keep in touch with potential employers. Business changes rapidly – be sure you’re still at the forefront of their minds when a role fit for you does arise!


Although all interviews and follow-ups are unique to the employer and organization, using these steps as a set of guidelines can help spin a potential negative response into an open door (possibly for alternate, more experienced positions as well!). If you would like help finding the perfect job to match your experiencecontact Staffers today!

“Kelly, and Mary Hannah has made the experience of working with Staffers a pleasant transition for displaced workers. The employees they have placed have all received raving reviews. They are prompt, and courteous as an organization. I have definitely enjoyed the exposure to this company.” – Eulondra G.

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