Another Common Hiring Fallacy – “You’re Overqualified”

I’ve noticed another common hiring mistake.  They say “I’m rejecting you because you’re overqualified.”

In retrospect, I’ve been overqualified for every job I’ve ever had.  I’m not going to be fairly compensated or fairly treated unless I start my own business.  However, that isn’t easy.

At one interview, the hiring manager said “You’re overqualified.  You don’t have enough .NET experience.”

Suppose you are buying a car.  The car is really worth $20k, but the sale price is $5k.  Would you say “Sorry, this car is overqualfied.”

If someone tried to sell you a $20k car for $5k, you might be suspicious.  However, if you’re able to really evaluate the bargain, then you should buy it.  Maybe the seller is at risk for bankruptcy or has cashflow problems.

The economy is lousy, so people are forced to apply for lesser jobs than they normally would.  There aren’t any good jobs, but when you apply for a lesser job, you’re “overqualfied”.

When an employer rejects someone for being overqualified, he’s saying that he isn’t willing to accept a bargain.

When a manager is rejects you for a frivolous reason, he isn’t going to say he’s being silly.  Instead, he makes up some other reason like “You’re overqualified.” or “You don’t have enough experience in X.”

When a hiring manager says “You’re overqualified.”, he really means one of the following

  1. I know this job sucks.  If I hire someone really smart, they will be bored and frustrated.
  2. This is a dead-end job.  There’s no advancement possible here, so you’ll leave when you can get something better.
  3. I don’t want to hire someone more experienced than me, because then my own job is at risk.  If I hire you, then you might replace me.
  4. I’m rejecting you because you’re too old, but legally it’s better to say “overqualified”

There’s one important point to remember, when looking for a job. When an employer rejects you for a frivolous reason, he’s never going to say that. There’s always some other excuse. However, there are so many applicants, that employers can afford to be really picky.

I really should start my own business. For now, I’m sticking with the wage slave track.

5 Responses to Another Common Hiring Fallacy – “You’re Overqualified”

  1. Anonymous Coward June 28, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    I’m a software developer and I sell my own software.

    Years ago, around the time sales were slowly picking up, I did go for job interviews.

    I was routinely insulted by potential employers. It was either a total lack of technical questions or going the other way i.e. excessive questions spread over 3 different days. Or having to wake up at 5am to make the interview and then having to answer programming questions solidly from 10 am to 6 pm. Or simply to get every question correct and then having the manager lie about me getting the very last question he asked me incorrect.

    On the flip-side my software business was picking up and at its peak selling 35 copies a day. If course a site-license was sold, then obviously that daily figure would be greatly increased.

    So what am I?

    A complete failure that can’t get a job. An incompetent employee that all employers think is useless.

    Or a competent software developer that can develop a loved software application that sells almost every day and at its peak was selling many, many copies per day almost every day for years non-stop.

  2. Robert Ferguson June 28, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    Why don’t you just go down to the county courthouse, get a business license, go down to the FedEx store and get some business cards printed for like ten bucks, launch a website which I know you have the expertise to do, then find a way to market yourself. Then go work as an independent contractor. Boom, your own business. I know it’s hard but you can at least try. Anything’s better than just talking about it.

    • You still need clients. It’s one thing to have a website. It’s another to have a consulting business.

      If you want consulting contracts, the best way to do it is via Dice/Monster/Craigslist, which I’m already doing.

      I have this website. If I put ads on my website, that isn’t even going to cover my hosting costs.

      • Robert Ferguson June 28, 2012 at 5:21 pm

        Then it sounds like you need a little money to hire your self a sales rep. Pay some 25 year old attractive, well spoken woman to go down to some tech and business conferences and get your card out there.

        • Does that actually work? Does it make sense for me to pay $$ for a sales rep when I’m not earning that much myself?

          A consulting business isn’t really a proper business, because you’re dependent on clients at big corporations. You’re still limited by how much you can bill hourly. Once you start hiring other people, that adds another layer of complexity.

          I don’t have the contacts to start a consulting business. If I did, I’d already have my next job.

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