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Overqualified & Can't land the Role You'd Like? Learn how to Sell Your Assets off!

Getting to the top of that pyramid can be quite exciting and a wonderful journey. But, what do we do when the next role that we’re after is a little bit below what we've traditionally held? Or, what if we'd like to try some new adventure, in some new direction?

First, we have to understand what overqualified usually means in ‘coded language’ of the hiring process.

Quite often it means, "You're too expensive, and I think you won’t be happy in this role!"

Your Overqualified (really, you're too expensive)

We have to be objective about the reasons someone may say that we are overqualified, as we have to calculate and overcome the objection presented in order to get the job offer.


Remember the first rule of interviews: they would not waste their oxygen or their valuable time if they were not truly considering you for the role.


If you don't like people throwing stones, well then I guess you're not going to do very well in most interviews. So, whatever objection they throw at you, it’s to see how you'll respond and put your thoughts together. Don't scramble to explain yourself, it's time to sell your assets off!

When someone objects to you in some way shape or form, internally you should be excited.

It means that they likely do like you, but need to test their own reaction by throwing you a difficult question or throwing a stone at one of your perceived defects. That defect could be you (really) being overqualified, or just being too expensive.

It’s often to test to see if you would be happy taking a lower salary or lower position and would still be productive in that role.


A good hire is usually someone a company can bring on board and keep productive, growing, and being promoted over the course of 5 to 7 years. That's a good return on a hiring investment.


One candidate has to step backward or step down while proving that they'll be happy in that function, which they could probably do blindfolded. Another candidate is someone who is stepping up into that role with all the passion, ambition and drive of a contributor moving up the ladder. It’s not hard to understand why the second individual is most typically selected.

So how do you overcome being too expensive, or too skilled?

When it’s about resetting your financial expectations to see if you might take a lower salary, you need to reframe how you might typically respond. But it’s very similar when being too skilled for a role as well.


Rather than capitulate on your compensation requirements to theirs, or trying to sell how you can do this job blindfolded (which will not help your case), sell that you are special, different, exceptional from the rest and will be more valuable to the company.


Then you compare a candidate who is only ‘capable’ and qualified in that spot, and what they’ll deliver, versus having an individual that is truly exceptional, like yourself, in the role. Inspire them. The cost difference pales in comparison to what you can deliver for them. Take note that you should always refer to others as 'candidates' and yourself as an 'individual' to reinforce your uniqueness and their interchangeability.

If they counter about their budget limitations (simply another objection to see how you'll respond), find a way to open their eyes from being a spendthrift to being a wise investor in the right talent.

Be excited about the role, and understand your value.

Remember, there's always somebody less expensive, less experienced. Don't be afraid to sell the difference in what you can produce, running circles around the others. If they want to spend less they’ll make that choice anyway. But, if they want the best, they are more likely to choose you for the role.

Let's get out there and sell, as that's what an interview is all about!

Need more help & Advice? Reach out today–


John Crant

Author, Career Coach & Speaker on Job Search and Career Management

Featured Speaker for

The New York Public Library's JOB SEARCH CENTRAL


In the Media: As Seen As Featured in 

amNY, Time Out New York, The Wall Street Journal (and its, CRAIN'S New York BusinessForbes, CNNBBC, FOX News (on Social Media Marketing), AriseTV, New York PostThe Huffington PostEssence magazine, CareerBuilder and The Ladders

On the Radio: As Guest: WHCR 90.3 FM "The Voice of Harlem"


As an industry manager, executive recruiter, recruiting & sales trainer, event speaker, and as VP of a nationwide system of recruitment offices, I have seen most every aspect of the hiring process and this varied insight is what provides the clarity you will find in this book.


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