Over-qualified or scared?

  • 17 March 2021
  • Prue Scott

Oh, this is getting so tiresome. 

"You’re too over-qualified.”

Not just over-qualified, but “too” over-qualified. What does that mean?

Time to see what Google can throw up. 

“Overqualified? Some would say that I'm not overqualified but fully qualified. With due respect, could you explain the problem with someone doing the job better than expected?”

Thank-you Joyce Lain Kennedy at thebalancecareers.com. She suggests emphasising your quality of work, flexibility, loyalty and your value as an asset. I would love to, but rarely get to the interview stage. 

One recent position was labelled “senior” and specified “3+ years experience”. If three years makes you a senior, what does it mean for someone with 10- or 15-years’ experience? 

Oh, and that “years” is possessive, so it needs an apostrophe. 

Here’s what this senior might do in considering whether your company is under-qualified to employ me.

  • You want me to work for you, so what are you offering me? 
  • Can you articulate the role clearly? If you can’t state in one short list what the job entails, I’m going to mark you down.
  • I’m also going to mark you down if the ad is full of pompous drivel, jargon, corporate-speak and the dreaded words of the apocalypse - committed, fast paced and fun environment, highly motivated team, energetic.
  • I will deduct more points if you use the word pivot (in any sense), proven ability, authentic, strategic, strong interpersonal skills, relevant, proactive…oh, stop me now.

And don’t get me started on the dreaded JDs.

  • Oh, alright then, twist my arm. I’m also going to mark you down if the JD is over one page and begins with corporate boilerplate. I guess that’s what really pulls in the millennials and those with 3+ years’ (note the apostrophe). Bet they love that stuff. Meanwhile, we seniors are sharpening our editing pencils and taking bets on whether we can turn that atrocious copy into something resembling a well-crafted JD.
  • I’ve just looked at your website. You appear to be talking to yourselves. I just love those dense paragraphs of text with sub-clauses in brackets. I guess you spent a lot of time crafting your mission, vision and values, but how much time did you put into thinking about what your customer wants? 

Before you reject me as over-qualified or too over-qualified, think about what I might want:

  • I might be relocating to a new city.
  • I’m past the adjectival descriptions and into just doing the work.
  • You plug me in and away I go.
  • I want more flexibility in what I do.
  • I’d like to be in a job with regular hours.
  • I want more balance in my life.
  • I’ve been doing contract work and now I want to be part of a team (although that’s rather difficult these days).
  • Am I expensive? No. You’re benefiting from my experience and expertise. I am quick. I am smart. I know how and where to research.
  • Hire me for your future. Loan me to another team. Include me in a project. Let me upskill your writers.
  • I can still learn, even at 63-going-on-64. Being freelance enhances my brain elasticity because I must come to terms with new clients and tasks all the time.
  • Salary is not the priority which means I’m not going to do a runner if there’s something else out there for $5k more. 
  • I’m at the serious end of the market.

No, I don’t think you’re lucky to have me. I think I’m lucky to have an opportunity to work for you.

You’re going to benefit from my experience and expertise. 

So, why are you so afraid of my skills, expertise and age? 


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  • Lesley Roberts
  • 18 Mar 2021
  • 6:35 am

Oh. How I feel for you! Many years ago, I thought I’d never be short of work in retirement because I could write in sentences and spell. I always thought I‘d be able to proof read. Years (note, no apostrophe) later, however, I realise that no-one knows or cares if words form a sentence, and that good spelling is a thing of the past. Punctuation went out with the smart phone. Having experience just makes you a dinosaur. You’ll have to become an influencer!

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