"I wasn't aware this company wanted to hire underqualified people."
Gotta love that snarky response.
Of course, it's better to use discretion, no matter how many times one hears that culling comment from hirers.
Culling? You bet. Calling a candidate "overqualified" is a facile way to pare the candidate list.
It's also the easy way to avoid giving the real reason for rejection. Using the "overqualified" dodge may mean:
"We're looking for younger workers."
"You earned too much more in your last job to be happy with this pay."
"You wouldn't like working for a boss with less experience than you."
"You'd become bored and have a bad attitude."
"We think you'd leave as soon as you found something better."
Yep. "Overqualified" can be code for something presumptive, if not discriminatory.
Job hunters repeatedly tell me they'd like to be able to counter those assumptions. Unfortunately, they're usually weeded out of the candidate pool before they have a chance.
If you're in that position and have the opportunity to respond, here are some points to make:
—My skills and experience make me the most qualified person to meet your needs.
—It is not as important at this point in my work life that I earn as much as I did before. My needs have changed, and I've never measured self-worth by the size of a paycheck.
—I've been able to find satisfaction in every job I've held, as long as I'm making a valued contribution.
—I haven't been a job hopper, and I don't intend to start now.
—I've fully researched the duties and expectations for this job, and I believe I'm a great fit.
If you think age is the barrier, you could consider including only the past 10 to 15 years of work on your resume and removing big titles and graduation dates to raise the chances of reaching an interview.
(Diane Stafford is the workplace and careers columnist at The Kansas City Star. Her "Your Job" blog at economy.kansascity.com includes daily posts about job-related issues of wide interest. Readers may write to her at: Kansas City Star, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. 64108-1413, or by email at email@example.com.)
Copyright 2011 The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.); distributed by MCT Information Services
Getting around 'overqualified'
If someone throws that old cliché your way, here's how you argue that your qualifications are exactly right.
A job seeker greets a recruiter at an employment fair on September 2, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)