How often do employers reject overqualified applicants

Downshifting explains: How to get the job despite being overqualified

A rejection as a result of an application does not always have something to do with a lack of suitability. Companies often send rejections because they consider the applicants to be overqualified. Sounds suspicious, after all, people always preach that employees should continue their education and gain experience. But often behind this are very simple fears or fears on the part of employers.

What does "overqualified" mean

The impression of overqualification can arise from various factors. On the one hand there is of course the conclusion. During their studies, many students ask themselves what they would like to graduate with. Bachelor, master or even a doctorate. What is really worthwhile always depends on the desired professional field. And while bachelor's or master's degrees are now mostly viewed as standards, the higher degrees are viewed critically. Employers often think that the job being offered is too easy for a doctor or professor. Or on the contrary, that the applicant only has such a high academic degree because he did not want to go into “real” professional life - perhaps the free economy - and preferred to “relax” at university.

Switching from a large, well-known company to a smaller one can also quickly be seen as overqualification. This problem is particularly faced by young employees who, after graduating, have seized the opportunity to join a respected corporation. But also experienced professionals who have climbed the career ladder only to find that the managerial positions are not for them after all.

Why do employers reject overqualified applicants?

Often, one of the first reservations is that the applicant may be too expensive. After all, employees with a higher degree or experience in well-known companies often have completely different salary expectations. In addition, there is the fear of boredom. Employers fear that overqualified workers may get bored faster and strive for more. Something more that not every company can offer. In order to avoid this problem, a rejection is issued immediately. And even students are confronted with this situation when looking for a part-time job. If you have a good Abitur, but want to work “only” as a waiter, for example, the HR staff often ask about motivation and potential boredom. After all, the student could also directly accept a working student job in a company in the desired field of work.

Another reservation made by employees is that the applicant could only view the position as an interim solution. Even highly qualified employees are sometimes faced with the problem that they cannot find a suitable job and need a plan B first - after all, money does not grow on trees. But many companies don't want to be just plan B. They long for long-term oriented, motivated employees and therefore shy away from overqualified workers. And finally, it should also be mentioned that the boss's ego unfortunately also plays a major role. If the applicant has more experience and qualifications than the employer, the latter may see themselves and their position threatened and therefore give a rejection.

But why do some employees take a step backwards?

Employers' fears are often unfounded. Many applicants consciously decide to slow down and shift down a gear. The whole thing is known as downshifting. This includes, among other things, the step back on the career ladder, rejected promotions, switching from full-time to part-time and also a complete break from working life. The reasons for such a step backwards vary. For one, an unbalanced work-life balance is a trigger. Mental stress in particular contributes to the fact that employees need time off. This often has to do with the fact that a position that looks perfect from the outside in a recognized company can turn out to be a nightmare. On the other hand, changed living conditions, such as starting a family, also favor downshifting.

Many long for more family time and goals outside of work.

How do you get a job despite being overqualified?

It is important that the reasons given above for a step backwards are explained and that employers are relieved of their fears. This can be done like this:

  • Adjust the application: Lies are a no-go on any resume. But you can check your own application and see whether certain successes or qualifications can go unmentioned. In addition, careful attention should be paid to the formulation of previous activities and the cover letter should be adapted to the skills sought in the job advertisement.
  • Be honest: In order to prevent employers' fears, these can be addressed directly. For example, it can be written that you have made a conscious decision to step backwards and the reasons for this can be discussed in a personal conversation.
  • Convince in the job interview: As mentioned in the previous step, the job interview is where you need to explain your motivations. Take away the fear of the employer and make it clear that you are not looking for a thrill, but consciously take the step backwards. Be it for personal benefit or that of your own family.

Ultimately, the step towards downshifting must be carefully considered. Because overqualification is often in the eye of the beholder. It is especially useful as an excuse for job rejections to applicants. How they shape and present their career status is ultimately up to them.