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If you have ever been informed that you are overqualified for a particular position, there may have been other underlying reasons for your not moving further in the selection process. Some of the most common meanings of being overqualified include the following:

1) You have been judged.

Whether the hiring manager was correct in their assessment or not, you are being judged by your resume and interview. Being told that you are overqualified for a position could be code for numerous things including, but not limited to: a) your perceived personality not being conducive to the work environment; b) you wore inappropriate attire; and/or c) you come across as a slacker.

2) You turned the interviewer off.

Nobody likes a show off or a know-it-all. There is a difference between being confident and being pompous. Humility goes a long way when applying and interviewing for jobs.

3) They wanted to let you down easy.

It is better on the ego to hear that you are overqualified for a position than to be told flat out that they do not like you and/or you are not qualified for a position.

4) They already have someone in mind for the position.

Being let down may have nothing to do with you or your qualifications. In certain circumstances, some employers may, in fact, already have someone they want to fill the position with and are just going through the motions of interviewing other candidates due to company policy or procedure.

5) You truly are overqualified.

The number of degrees obtained and years of experience play a major part when hiring managers seek to fill a position. Being told you are overqualified for a position may be the truth. With years of experience and education comes additional money that may have to be expended to the new hire, which may not fit the budget of the company looking for new talent.

For the unemployed and underemployed, there aren’t too many limits to the jobs that most will apply for, especially if the time between steady employment has been extensive. Some potential hires have been relegated to seeking jobs that they know they are overqualified for because there is an inherent and immediate need for income. Alternatively, some candidates may intentionally and strategically seek employment that could be considered a step down from their qualifications, because they simply want fewer responsibilities or work hours. Whatever the case may be, being told by a hiring manager that you are “overqualified” can be an ambiguous let down in which you really do not necessarily understand what it means.

As with other life experiences, being let down by a company you were seeking employment with may just be life directing you elsewhere. Attempt to seek opportunities and employment that are conducive to your education, experiences and expectations. Do not low ball yourself or sell yourself short. Go for what you want, which may actually be a position you do not feel you have all desired qualifications for.

Rashida Maples, Esq. is Founder and Managing Partner of J. Maples & Associates ( . She has practiced Entertainment, Real Estate and Small Business Law for 9 years, handling both transactional and litigation matters. Her clients include R&B Artists Bilal and Olivia, NFL Superstar Ray Lewis, Fashion Powerhouse Harlem’s Fashion Row and Hirschfeld Properties, LLC.


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