Breaking through the overqualification ceiling

guest column Emmanuel Zvada

YOU have, several times applied for a job, but you are still not hired.

This is a very frustrating experience and you may start questioning what is wrong with you. When you are applying for jobs, being told that you are being dismissed because you are “overqualified” for a job you know you could do well is incredibly frustrating.

After all, having higher qualifications than what a job requires should be a good thing, shouldn’t it? The question that needs to be unpacked is: “Why is being
overqualified so often seen as a bad thing?” It is understandable to be rejected if you are not qualified, but what is the concern about being overqualified.

Not everyone who is overqualified for a position is old, it is also important to know that nowadays even the overqualified are still very young. The issue of
overqualifications is something youthful job applicants should be aware of, because sometimes, your previous accomplishments would be a barrier if you seek a
lesser job than what you are expecting to get. Employers want to hire employees who are qualified, capable, and who would not give them problems in future.

In fact, sometimes you might have a solid professional profile as well as experience; your resume might be attractive to the recruiters in terms of
qualifications and experience and you are assume that this will enable you to get the job offer easily. Employers look for candidates who are a good match for
the job and if your credentials show you are overqualified or underqualified you may not be considered for the role.

What is overqualification?

Overqualification is the state of being skilled or educated beyond what is necessary for a particular job. Being told you are overqualified for a job can feel
like someone telling you that you are too awesome to date.

Overqualification can be connected to the job when the applicants have more skills and experience than required for the job they are applying for. Apart from
that, it can also be termed overqualification in relation to an expected salary in relation to qualifications held. This is when job applicants accept a salary
lower than they could expect to earn in view of their qualifications.

Why is overqualification a problem for employers?

In most cases, employers try by all means to avoid hiring overqualified employees because they are unsure if you will be able to take instructions. One other
reason employers may avoid hiring overqualified candidates for positions that do not match their experience is because they often think that someone used to do
higher-level or more interesting work can’t possibly be happy with less challenging responsibilities. They assume that you’ll quickly get bored, frustrated and
then want to leave.

When more experienced than your manager, the worry that one would not be happy or comfortable to take instructions from the manager is also very high.

More so, it will be unfair to them as well as that they will not be able to pay you enough. Employers would often assume that if you have more experience or
education than the job requires, your salary expectations are probably higher too. If they try to match your salary to those who have lesser salaries it will
also act as a form of wage discrimination, so the only panacea would be avoiding hiring you in the first place.

The other fear that employers have in hiring overqualified employees is that one would leave as soon as something better comes around. Because employers often
cannot understand why someone would want a lower position than what their background might qualify them for. Most of the times, they often assume that one is
only interested in the job because they are desperate.

The concern of employees being overqualified needs to be discussed at greater length. Below is a list of my suggestions for those who wish to overcome the
negative effects of this perception. When one is overqualified for jobs, one needs to understand the afore-mentioned concerns and address them head-on.

If one anticipates the potential objections they might encounter due to age, experience level or qualifications, one can prepare the appropriate responses to
help them address these issues head on. Despite the challenges, one would want to display a winning attitude, a willingness to learn and emphasise their
eagerness to make a long-term contributions. Employers are more likely to take a chance on one if they talk about why they are passionate about the job rather
than the fact that the job requires certain qualifications. In fact, employers are more concerned about results not qualifications.

Keeping your resume relevant is also key in avoiding oneself from being asked questions related to over qualification. One of the biggest mistakes made by job
seekers is making their resumés pour out every responsibility they have ever had. Another way of avoiding potential issues of being overqualified, job
candidates have to limit their work history on their resumes. Keep your resume tailored to the job, knowing and bearing in mind that the most “qualified”
candidates are not the most knowledgeable or the most experienced. Do not delve into experience and qualifications that go beyond the company’s needs for the

One key issue that prospective job seekers undermine is being showy on their resumes. You are supposed to place appropriate qualification relevant to the post.
Prospective applicants should know that they should disclose all information about their qualifications. They are not supposed to disclose past salaries
unless asked.

Applying for jobs and hearing one is overqualified can be a frustrating experience. But while you may be confident the job was an ideal fit for you, do not get
discouraged if you keep getting turned down for jobs because of being overqualified.

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