Not being selected because you are ‘overqualified’ for a job you know you could do well is incredibly frustrating. So why is being overqualified so often seen as a bad thing? When hiring managers label you as overqualified, here is what they are probably thinking.
We can’t you pay enough: Employers will often assume that if you have more experience or education than the job requires, your salary expectations are probably higher than the role pays too.
You do not understand what the job entails: Hiring managers will worry that in your quest to get hired somewhere, you are being overly optimistic about what the work will be like. For instance, the job advertisement might say data entry, but you assume the job requires more detailed IT knowledge and so could prove yourself later.
You will get bored: Hiring managers often think that someone who used to do higher-level or more interesting work cannot possibly be happy with less challenging responsibilities, and they assume that you’ll quickly get bored, then frustrated and then want to leave.
You may not like working for a manager with less experience: If you have significantly more experience than your manager, you will probably not be comfortable taking directions from them. Moreover, if the manager lacks confidence and experience they might assume you do know better and that you will be judging their decisions and so they might decide to disqualify your candidacy.
You will leave when a better offer comes around: Because hiring managers often cannot understand why someone would want a lower position than what they are qualified for, they often assume that you are interested in the job only because you are desperate now and that you will leave as soon as something more suited to your background comes along.
So what do you do when you hear that you are overqualified for a job you actually want? The best thing is to proactively understand the concerns above and address them head-on. Explain why you are genuinely interested in the position and you can also say explicitly that you are clear about the lower pay that comes with the position, and that it is fine with you.
Ideally, you should address this in the cover letter, to avoid having your application discarded without being called for an interview. But once you get to the interview stage, be prepared to discuss it again, and probably in more detail.