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Should you Apply for a Role that you are Over-Qualified for?

  • November 10, 2020

If, like many others, you have found yourself unemployed as a result of the pandemic, applying for jobs that sit at a lower level, may seem like the only option and it can be frustrating for candidates to hear that they are being rejected for an opportunity because they are ‘over qualified’.

When a role requires specific skills and experience, you might think that a candidate exceeding these requirements would be snapped up. However, employers are often reluctant to consider over-qualified candidates, based on the suspicion that the candidate is using the role as a ‘stop gap’ until a better opportunity arises. This is a particular concern in the current climate where unemployment is high and competition for each vacancy is fierce.

In many cases, these concerns are valid and we will often have conversations with candidates in which they will say “I just need a job” or ’I will take anything’.  Whist this approach is understandable if you have found yourself unexpectedly unemployed or are struggling with finances, there are things you should consider before applying for, or accepting a role that you are over qualified to do:

  • Taking a significant step down could impact your future career aspirations. If you are looking to move up the career ladder, the role may not present you with the challenges that are needed to continue your professional development.
  • The likelihood is that you will end up taking a significant drop in pay and may end up earning much less than you are capable of.
  • If the role is a major step down in terms of responsibility, you could quickly end up bored, demotivated and unfulfilled.


Of course, there are candidates who genuinely wish to take a step down for reasons such as family commitments or work/life balance and contrary to popular belief, being over qualified for a job is not always a bad thing, especially if your personal preferences and unique circumstances require you to reconsider your career.

In these situations, it is important to:

  • Be clear about your logic, intentions and motivations to any potential employer and to be prepared to address this during interview.
  • Tailor your CV to make it as relevant as possible to the job role and person specification.
  • Accompany your application with a covering letter, to explain to a potential employer, your reasons for being interested in the role and appease any initial concerns they may have. 
  • Don’t be tempted to water down your skills and experience. Instead, demonstrate a sound understanding of the requirements of the role and your commitment to doing the job.

It may also be worth considering options such as temporary or interim roles. During uncertain times, whilst it is tempting to apply for permanent positions that may not be right for you in the long-run,  focusing on the temporary market maybe a better option in the short-term. Not only can temporary work provide you with an income, it is also an excellent way to develop new skills and gain exposure to different environments.

Employers will generally be more flexible when recruiting temps, focusing on transferrable skills rather than an exact match. So whilst candidates are often put off by the lack of stability temporary assignments can present, they are also an opportunity to build confidence or try out a different type of role and may well end up being a ‘foot in the door’ to a more permanent job.