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2nd March, 2018

Overqualified: what does it mean?


You’ve got a jam-packed CV, full of great qualifications and impressive experience in your chosen field. But you’ve decided you want to take a step back – less stress, less pressure, more time to enjoy life. But why are you finding it so hard to secure a new role? What might a hiring manager or recruiter mean when they tell you you’re overqualified?

Don’t rock the boat:

You might be more qualified or have more experience than the current staff, potentially even your new line manager. This can be cause for concern, from creating an uncomfortable vibe in the office to upsetting current staff, managers have to be careful to maintain the balance within a team.


Don’t rock the boat if you’re changing careers

Fight or Flight:

Whatever your reasons for taking a step down the career ladder, any new company will be concerned that it won’t last. The idea of something less taxing can be better than the reality, and the worry will be that you’ll get bored and leave within a few months, costing a lot of time and money in the process.

Confidence and Paranoia:

Are you simply undervaluing yourself? Applying for roles below your experience level could be a sign that someone doesn’t believe in their abilities and will need constant reassurance – a red flag for most managers that are already stretched.

No space in the place:

Quite simply, if you’re looking for a lower role to enable some progression, the business simply might not have the room to enable this. If you’re not fulfilled with opportunities to grow, you’ll likely leave, leaving the business back at square one.


Why, why, why? (Delilah!)

Why are you looking for a step back? Be honest about your reasoning – if you can’t come up with something more solid than “I just fancy a change” then it’s time to rethink. You’ve got to be able to explain your reasoning multiple times, to recruiters and hiring managers as well as probably new colleagues if you do secure a role, so make sure it’s robust. If you are genuinely looking for a lifestyle change and can afford to take a pay cut, you must be able to explain this to anyone who asks.

A CV to rival War and Peace!

Look at your CV – is it still tailored to your previous career, with pages and pages of jargon-filled phrases? If so, make this your priority to sort out! Think about the skills you can transfer and highlight these, taking out a lot of information. You can always have more than one version, depending on what you’re applying for.

Your CV should be short and sweet, not long and lengthy!

What are you worth?

This is tricky. You might have extensive knowledge of database management and systems that you KNOW any new employer would benefit from. However, from their perspective, you could easily come across as demeaning and insulting to whatever systems already exist. Think about what you can add in the short term (i.e. a reliable, hardworking candidate that ticks all the boxes for the role being advertised) and your other skills at the door. Once you’re in a new role and have gotten to know your manager and colleagues, you can start to make inroads using your other skills. Slow and steady wins the race!

Square peg, round hole?

Be realistic, do your skills and experience genuinely match with the job that you’re applying for? You might think that being an Administrator is easy peasy when you’ve been a high level manager but that isn’t always the case. The skill sets can be massively different and can be harder to adjust to than you’d think. Have respect for the position you’re looking to move into and treat it the same whether it’s paying £7.50 or £750 per hour!


Unfortunately, sometimes phrases like “you’re overqualified” are used as an easy excuse to reject someone. Frustrating and really bad practice for sure, but one that can be hard to avoid. Never be afraid to ask for more feedback in this situation, any decent company should be able to help.

Take a look at what jobs we’re currently advertising in the Cheshire area and see whether any of these might fit the bill for your next career move.

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