How to Prove You Aren't Overqualified for a Role

If you are trying to take a step down the career ladder for any reason, you may hear from numerous employers that you are "overqualified" for their role. This can be a frustrating experience – as evidenced by a question I recently received from a job seeker:

I am trying to take a step back in my career until my baby turns two (he is six months old now), but I keep getting told I am overqualified. How do I get past this roadblock?

It can be tricky. When an employer tells you that you're overqualified for a position, it roughly translates to: "I'm concerned that you're not going to stay here for long or that you will want a higher salary than we can afford."

So, how do you put those fears to bed?

A cover letter, resume, or email is not going to cut it here. You need to speak with the employer and explain why you want to take a step back in your career. You should also discuss how long it will be before you are ready to advance your career again.

It is up to you how much information you share. You are not required to disclose your family situation or any other information that you feel could spark bias in the employer. Have a clear idea of the salary range you are aiming for. If you are unsure of this, you can research pay rates for the job and industry. You may also want to sit down and work out how much you need to earn to pay your bills. Come up with a satisfactory range so you can discuss salary options with the hiring team when you are ready.

You should also talk to the employer about advancement opportunities you may want in the future – say in a year and a half or so. Be honest about what you want. That way, the employer can be honest about whether or not they can give it to you.

Remember that you can be an amazing asset to the right company. Your experience means that you will settle in and learn the ropes more quickly than someone less experienced. This translates to the company spending less money on training. If the company needs help training up other staff members, you even could offer to help out, given that you already know what you're doing.

Once you have had an open conversation with the hiring team, lodge an application if you think the role will be a good fit for you. It will be easier for you to overcome the employer's concerns about your "overqualification" if you start building a relationship with the hiring team early on.

Always keep in mind that the right employer is out there for you. They will appreciate the skills and experience you have and how you can help the company grow.

Stacey Gleeson is the founder and job search/interview coach at Primed Interviews. If you have a question about your job search, send her an email at