Sorry, You’re Overqualified – Part I

A friend of mine recently shared their news over a job offer as an entry-level supervisor for a local pizza parlor.  What makes this unique is that my friend has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing and had worked for a big marketing firm for four years.  My friend became jobless due to “rightsizing ~ new pc term for laid-off” of the organization. 

It was not easy for my friend to find a job.  Job interview after job interview they heard only one comment, “Sorry. We can’t hire you.  You’re overqualified.”  My friend became understandably frustrated. 

So I wanted to find out what were the reasons why my friend couldn’t get a job?  In researching this and from my experience in Human Resources, there was a litany of reasons given by hiring managers as to why they hesitate to hire an overqualified person:

  • The overqualified person will only work for us a short period of time until they find something better or the economy improve so why invest time and money into training them only to have them leave.
  • There is no way this overqualified person will be satisfied with what we are willing to pay them.  Look at their resume.
  • The overqualified person will not fit in with our corporate culture because they will make the current employees feel inadequate and uncomfortable.
  • The overqualified person will be hard to manage because they will be working at a level well below their capabilities.
  • The overqualified person will not be satisfied and/or happy with this job since it will no way be challenging or fulfilling.

These seem like reasonable objections.  However, I want to ask an organization why you wouldn’t want to hire the best talent possible.  An “overqualified” person can bring motivation, ideas, efficiencies, wisdom, maturity, and competence that are priceless.  How can any organization that wants to be successful pass up such value propositions? 

  • If a person is overqualified and perhaps because of the economy they are willing to work for lower pay or at a lower job level and maybe they will only stay for three months, why wouldn’t you see what they could bring?  In my humble opinion, they can bring more value in terms of experience to the company than the qualified person can bring in three years.
  • Maybe the overqualified person has had a great career but now wants a change of pace.  The job they are applying for now meets those needs.  No hidden motives, hire them!
  • In today’s tough economy a young college graduate struggles to find a job, and yet are seen as overqualified for many positions.  That college graduate can bring enthusiasm, energy, and intelligence to the job that would be a great asset to any company and perhaps they will become a future leader for you.
  • What about a senior executive who cannot find another high level position because of the lack of available top positions.  Why can’t they be a regional manager or department head?  The value proposition they could bring the company would be innovation, efficiencies, and expertise that could turn into new revenue, production, or cost savings.

I challenge hiring managers to ask themselves, “why am I not willing to seek out exceptional talent from a person, overqualified or not, that may bring growth and opportunity to my organization?” The answer should be simple.  Please share your comments.

photo credit


About Patricia Knight
Hello and welcome. My name is Patricia Knight. Thank you for taking the time to view my blog. I’m a Human Resources professional who is currently pursing an MBA at the University of Nevada-Reno. I am an analytical, detail-oriented professional who believes that collaboration and negotiation are critical for successful employee relations between leadership and employees.

One Response to Sorry, You’re Overqualified – Part I

  1. Pingback: Sorry, You’re Overqualified – Part II « Patricia Knight

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