Up to 80% of recruiters have admitted in surveys to stereotyping an “overqualified” candidate as being a bad match for their posted jobs.  The idea behind it is that if a candidate has too many qualifications or too much experience or a more senior title, he/she will be unhappy, unmotivated or quit as soon as something better comes along.

As with all stereotypes, these sentiments are not accurate.  However, they are the reality that you need to work with.  Accept them and repackage yourself for each and every interview.  There are recruiters and hiring managers out there who admit to seeing your abundance of qualifications a reason for you to

  1. Quit as soon as something better comes along
  2. Be unhappy
  3. Be unmotivated
  4. Be a threat for his/her job
  5. Expect a fast (if not instant) promotion
  6. Expect more money than they can pay

Do some soul searching before you apply for any job.  Why would you truly want the job – better hours? less travel? closer to home?  Stating that you just need a job…any job….does not sit well with most recruiters.  It smacks of desperation, and desperation never plays well.

Recruiters and hiring managers are looking for the best-fit candidate. If you are interviewing with someone who feels that you are overqualified, it will be addressed in the interview – either directly in questions or indirectly in tone.  You need to address all concerns; some examples include:

1)       You will quit as soon as something better comes along.  When talking about the future, you need to emphasize your excitement for the job position, and the fact that you do see opportunities that will keep you there long-term.

2)       You cannot possibly be motivated in a job where you will not use any/most of your qualifications or skills. All workers need to be challenged enough in their work to keep their motivation levels high.  Every position, regardless of the job duties, offer opportunities to learn and even mentor others.  Mentoring is one of the greatest benefits a company gains when they hire an “overqualified” person.

3)       You cannot expect a promotion anytime soon.  The trick here is show the interviewer that you’re looking for steady advancement in the long run, not a rapid series of promotions.

4)       We are concerned that you will become bored and frustrated.  Offer examples of how you found opportunities for professional growth in previous positions you held.

Finally, no matter what you do, do not “dumb yourself down”.  You worked hard for your education, experience, and knowledge.  Do not throw them away by pretending to be something that you are not.  You may land the job, but in the long run, you will be unhappy and frustrated and back out looking for a new job, ending up worse off than you were in the first place.

NOTE:  A full-color, downloadable PDF is available.