The Recruiter Said I’m Overqualified: What Should I Do Next?

2 min read time

It’s easy to see why you don’t get a job when you lack the experience or know-how. But having too much experience can make it just as difficult to land a great position at an organization.

It sounds crazy: after years of building knowledge and experience, you feel like you should be able to get any job you want. But in many cases, it’s easier said than done.


Employers balk at hiring highly experienced candidates for myriad reasons: they believe you’re looking for a temporary stepping stone rather than a long-term career. They know they’ll have to pay you a salary that’s commensurate to your experience, and that might not be in the budget.


While you don’t want to appear less than you really are, you also want your best shot at getting a job offer. Here’s how to work around this delicate scenario without selling yourself short:

Ask the Hard Questions

Before you start sulking about unfairness, it’s time to do a gut check and ask yourself some tough questions.

First, do you really want this job? If you’re overqualified, that means that you could likely get a better job somewhere else, and for more money. Why do you want a job that’s below your skill level?

Second, will you be happy with this job, or will you soon be looking for something that’s more suited to your experience and salary requirements? This is something I constantly ask clients.

"Many times we just don't know what we want to be when we grow up!"

Figure out what you really want. It’s hard being honest with yourself, but doing so can save you (and your recruiter) a lot of pain and stress in the long term.

Support Your Claim in the Cover Letter

Your recruiter may ask you these same questions, if you make it to an interview. To give yourself the best chance of not being immediately dismissed, explain why you’re applying to a lower level job in your cover letter.

Talk about what interests you in the position and why you’re not considering something more suited to your experience. At the very least, it could put their fears to rest that they won’t be wasting their time calling you in for an interview.

Interview acceptance

Be Flexible with Salary Requirements

Being overqualified for a position almost always means being underpaid for your experience. You need to be okay with this if you want to move forward with the job. Let them know you’re willing to take a pay cut if you get the job, and be prepared to back up your answer if they push for more information.

Be Proud You’ve Come This Far!

Being overqualified isn’t a bad thing at all, so be proud you’ve learned so much that this “problem” exists in the first place!

Think back to your fresh-out-of-college days when you may have struggled to get a job as a new graduate. It’s not easy earning experience in the first place, so embrace all of the opportunities you’ve had to build your skill-set and prove your worth.

Even if the recruiter still won’t hire you because you’re overqualified, that doesn’t mean that nobody will. Keep an open mind and positive attitude, and the right job will come along before you know it, you professional powerhouse!


For more career insights and job search tips, head back to our blog.