In preparation for writing this article about being over qualified for a job vs. being just plain qualified, I was just doing some research to make sure I wasn’t way off base.

So, I went to and searched out some jobs. Using the advanced search tool I selected some industries that I know require a lot of education and experience and that are proving challenging for people.  I then navigated to “Career Levels” and selected “Executive” which includes VP’s, Senior VP’s etc.  I then searched the jobs generated by Monster searching for one thing and one thing only… what level of work experience each position was asking for.

The answer was not surprising (thankfully).  What I found was company’s are asking for experience ranging from as little as 3 years to as many as 15 years with most of them sitting somewhere between 5 and 10 years.  Remember, these are “Executive” positions.

I then adjusted my search and asked it for only the jobs that required 15 years of experience and more.  Do you want to know how many jobs “popped” up? Four!  Four Jobs.

Now you’re probably asking, “That’s all well and good, but what’s your point?”

Here it is.  If the HUGE majority or job ads area asking for 5-10 years of experience, why does every other resume I look at have a headline that reads something like “OVER 25 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE?” Somewhere along the line everyone started to think that the way to get hired is to show how over qualified for a job they are instead of being just plain qualified.

I say it every day and I will continue to say it every day – being OVER QUALIFIED FOR A JOB will get you eliminated from the job as fast as being under qualified.  If they wanted 25 years of experience, they would advertise for 25 years of experience.

Here is something that you probably didn’t know.  When a company posts a job they post their “wish list” as it were. So if they post “must have 10 years experience” they will settle for less, let’s say 7  or 8.  But they ARE NOT looking for more and definitely not 20+ years.

Being over qualified for a job says a few things to an employer:

  1.  I really need a job!  Look, I’m way over qualified BUT I’d work for you…
  2. Man I’m a good deal. And look at all of this experience that you can draw upon.
    (What the hiring manager hears, “I am going to challenge everything you do and constantly interrupt you with a stream of “helpful” ideas.”)
  3. I didn’t really read your job advertisement. I am just applying to everything I see.  I hope you don’t mind me wasting your time?

Having “over 25 years of experience” definitely gets you eliminated by being over qualified for a job.  Don’t believe me? Here is another article I found on Career Hub, 5 Reasons Your Job Search May Not Be Working that has some pretty good info too.

Don’t forget you can sign up for my FREE eBook and start changing the way you approach resume writing.

Sign Up Here ===> The 7 BIGGEST Resume Writing Mistakes Keeping You From Getting Interviews.”

“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world… usually do.” Apple Commercial from 1997…

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  • BA Kennett

    Reply Reply June 25, 2012

    I have come across this one so many times – If i’m really that overqualified then surely you have just made the case that I entirely meet the criteria set by the employer

    the fact that I can bring more to the table is open to negotiation (read your get what you pay for)

    what bugs me is the it is the Agencies that effectively block your CV from landing on a potential employers desk – its a bit like saying sorry you are not suitable because you have a masters degree rather than a degree

    as for periods served at previous posts sorry Coery even your profile shows dates served

    Guess the answer is never work for a company more than 7 years before moving on – and the Industry wonders why Employers can’t retain staff

    • Corey

      Reply Reply June 25, 2012

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      You do bring up some common concerns that I deal with a lot.

      Firstly it is important to remember companies and hiring manager are keyed in on what they want – nothing more, nothing less. And being over qualified WILL get you eliminated as quickly as being under qualified on paper.

      I am a professional recruiter and I know how they think. if you are way over qualified for a posting the thought process is…
      – why are you looking so far below your experience
      – this is a temporary stop until you find the job that meets your experience
      – the manager I am hiring for already has that experience and we don’t need conflict
      – you will be hard to manage as you know more than the existing manager

      My point being, you present many more negatives than positives being over qualified.

      Secondly, you talk about recruiters being the hurdle to overcome. You are right we dp filter out more people than we present to our clients. And there is the piece you might be missing – we get paid by our clients. Our clients give us a specific profile to seek and present to them and presenting candidates outside of that profile doesn’t serve the client or ourselves. A recruiters job is to find the exact (or 90%) fit for their clients. Some clients are open to my suggestions and input but most of them think they know what they want and just want me to find that.

      The good news is Recruiters are probably not the way you will find your next job. They only place 3-5% of the people they interview. Please, never “hang your hat” on a recruiter, they don’t work for you they work for the employer. If you want to explore that route, send your resume to EVERY recruiter out there and if one of them asks you to only work with them and no other firms, cross them off your list. That is not how we work.

      Please let me know if there is anything else I can assist you with.

  • Stu

    Reply Reply June 22, 2012

    Corey, Ricky,

    Both of you missed the major point – most online applications REQUIRE you to put in DATES, thus it is very easy for HR to estimate your age.

    If you can somehow use a paper resume, you have avoid dates, and perhaps even get called for an interview. But guess what? If you are an “older worker” (over 40), you immediately see the look of horror that overcomes the face of the receptionist and/or the HR person that meets you at the interview.

    If the company wants someone 25-30 years old with 5-7 years experience, there’s absolutely nothing a 40+ candidate can do. The “experience” factor being the new code words for YOUTH, as a means to discriminate against older workers.

  • Ricky

    Reply Reply June 22, 2012

    If an employer cannot determine how old you are from your work history, they will just look it up on the internet, then they determine that you are not qualified.

    • Corey

      Reply Reply June 22, 2012


      If a hiring manager has time to look it up on the internet, make them. The Fearless Job Seeker is about doing things that get you hired and not eliminated. So if a hiring manager needs to take an extra step (one they won’t do 80% of the time) to determine your age – make them do it. Don’t just readily supply them information that they can use to eliminate you from the process.

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