"I wasn't aware this company wanted to hire underqualified people." Have to love that snarky response. It's what one long-term job hunter — sick of hearing that he was overqualified for a job — wished he'd said. Of course, it's better to use discretion, no matter how many times one hears that culling comment from hirers. Culling? You bet. Calling a candidate "overqualified" is a facile way to pare the candidate list. It's also the easy way to avoid giving the real reason for rejection.
Using the "overqualified" dodge may mean:
"We're looking for younger workers."
"You earned too much more in your last job to be happy with this pay."
"You wouldn't like working for a boss with less experience than you."
"You'd become bored and have a bad attitude."
"We think you'd leave as soon as you found something better."
Yep. "Overqualified" can be code for something presumptive, if not discriminatory.
Job hunters repeatedly tell me they'd like to be able to counter those assumptions. Unfortunately, they're usually weeded out of the candidate pool before they have a chance.
If you're in that position and have the opportunity to respond, here are some points to make:
• My skills and experience make me the most-qualified person to meet your needs.
• It is not as important at this point in my work life that I earn as much as I did before. My needs have changed, and I've never measured self-worth by the size of a paycheck.
• I've been able to find satisfaction in every job I've held, as long as I'm making a valued contribution.
• I haven't been a job hopper, and I don't intend to start now.
• I've fully researched the duties and expectations for this job, and I believe I'm a great fit.
If you think age is the barrier, you could consider including only the past 10 to 15 years of work on your resume and removing big titles and graduation dates to raise the chances of reaching an interview.