How to get around being over-qualified – expert tips

By tailoring and tweaking your CV, it’s possible to get ahead of a recruiter’s objection of you being over-qualified for a position. Image: Freepik

By tailoring and tweaking your CV, it’s possible to get ahead of a recruiter’s objection of you being over-qualified for a position. Image: Freepik

Published Sep 19, 2023


Gugulethu Shinga

YOU probably think being overqualified is a good thing and will help you land any job. Sadly, this is not always the case. According to Carson Kohler at TopResume, the reality is that being overqualified for a job can work against you, as many employers hesitate to hire those with experience that exceeds the job’s requirements.


“The truth is, overqualified job candidates sometimes scare prospective employers,” explains Kohler. Here are a few reasons why:

• They assume you’ll ask for too much money. To avoid wasting everyone’s time with an interview, employers may assume you have high salary expectations and are not willing to take a pay cut.

• They’re worried you’re using the job as a temporary fix – especially if you’ve been retrenched – until you find your ideal senior-level role.

• They’re concerned you’ll get bored, since you won’t be challenged with a lower-level role that won’t match your experience level.


Here’s how to tell if you might be overqualified for a job:

• Refer back to the job description and see if you meet and exceed all the requirements listed. If you meet every single one, this could mean you’re overqualified, especially if you’ve been in the field a while.

• You thought the interview process was a breeze – including the skills assessment. For instance, if you applied for a writing role and received a writing assessment that took only 10 minutes to complete, that’s a sure sign you’re overqualified.

• If you leave the interview feeling like you absolutely nailed it, that’s great – but it could also be a sign you’re a little too comfortable.


If you’re overqualified for a job but you are interested in the position, there are ways to get ahead of this objection by tweaking your CV. Follow these simple steps:

Tailor your CV to the job

When you’re overqualified, you have to tailor your CV to the job. Rather than emphasising your leadership or managerial skills, highlight other skills in the skills section of your CV that were noted in the job description. Don’t delete higher-level positions from your CV, especially if it’s recent experience. Stay honest by simply tailoring your CV to better fit the job description if you are interested in the job.

Use your CV summary to your advantage

In the career summary of your CV, you can briefly explain why you’re looking to transition to the role for which you’re applying, especially if you’re leaving a more senior-level role. For example, maybe being a manager has taken away from what you actually love doing, so you want to get back into a role that allows you to flex your creative muscles daily instead.

Delete education dates

There’s no need to list the date you graduated from college or received your degrees. This gives the recruiter or hiring manager an opportunity to quickly write you off as overqualified. Just because you graduated 10 years ago doesn’t mean you have to be in a senior-level position. It’s best to just delete the dates on your education so that no one can make a snap judgement.

Lean on your cover letter

Outside your CV, your cover letter is a great place to explain why you’re interested in a job – even if you are potentially overqualified. Use your cover letter to fill in the blanks of your CV and explain your career arc, your experiences, and your qualifications. You don’t necessarily need to say, “I know I’m overqualified,” – but use this onepage letter to address any potential objections head-on.