ON THE JOB: That you’re ‘overqualified’

You’re overqualified.” It’s a common refrain experienced executives hear when they’re in the job market. Telling someone he or she is overqualified is a white lie, and, as a job candidate, you shouldn’t accept it. It’s like a lover breaking up by saying, “It is not you, it’s me” or “This hurts me more than it does you.”Labeling a job seeker “overqualified” is a cover for something else. Think about it. Whom would a reasonable employer want to hire: someone who is experienced, qualified and competent, or someone who is inexperienced?

Let’s face it: There’s no such thing as “overqualified.” Employers have preconceived notions about candidates of a certain age or with a high salary history or level of experience. Former entrepreneurs are also suspect. Overcoming this obstacle is a difficult task. Employers don’t reveal their concerns, or they hide behind pat phrases. What’s the real reason you’re not hired because you’re “overqualified?” Your qualifications have nothing to do with it. It’s a way to package the other concerns an employer has about you. Here is what they really mean: You’re too expensive and wouldn’t even consider working for the pay we will likely offer, so why invest any more time with each other? You are set in your ways, will come with baggage and bad habits, and won’t do things our way. We’d rather hire someone whom we can shape and mold and who will drink our Kool-Aid.You’ll be bored and leave in six months, and then I’m in the same spot I’m in right now. You’ll be a “know it all pain in the butt” who intimidates the staff. You may take this position, but the moment the market turns or you get an offer at your previous level, you’ll leave, so why go through that pain?

Your best defence against these concerns is a good offense. Address any potential obstacles head on and early in an interview. Take control of the interview and the information. Present your story so as to nip any concerns in the bud.