“Sorry, you are overqualified”
They say you are even better than they require, but they do not want to hire you.
That does not make sense. Or does it? What can you do?
What employers actually mean
If employers tell you that you are overqualified, it probably means that, in their view, your level of expertise, experience or responsibility is higher than the position requires.
Due to that, the employer might be afraid that:
- You will not be motivated to do your best.
The employer may worry that the job might not be interesting enough for you. Bored people tend to underperform.
- You will not fit into the environment.
Perhaps until now you were among people with a higher level of education or ambition than those in your new environment. How would you get along with them?
- You will leave soon.
Would you be motivated to stay in this job for some time, or would you leave for a different job at the first opportunity?
The unfilled vacancy, the selection procedure itself, and also the time needed to train a new employee all cost the employer money and effort. They hope it is a worthy investment and that they will not need to do it again any time soon.
What you can do
There are times in your life when the assumption that you would not be motivated for such a job might not be true. For example, when you really want to take a lower position because, in the current phase of your life, you prefer having a calmer pace of work and more time for your family, health recovery, hobbies, or something else. Or perhaps you wish to change your career dramatically (into a new field and at the same time a new type of job), and gaining relevant work experience might be a higher priority for you than progressing up a so-called career ladder.
If that is true, and it is your conscious choice to apply for “a lower position”, then it is crucially important that you already explain that to the employer at the application stage – in person, via phone or e-mail, and definitely in the covering letter. You need to make clear to them that they do not need to be concerned, and that you have clear reasons and motivation for this job.
In the opposite case, if you think they are right and that you really would be rather bored by the job and happy to change it soon, consider their comment as a compliment and encouragement. Try to apply for positions more appropriate to the level of your experience, expertise and previous responsibility. They know the job market they operate in, and they just told you that you have a good chance of finding something better!