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Rejected for being ‘overqualified’? How to bounce back and land a job

Published: Thursday, 10 January 2013   Category: All Graduate Jobs News

In the gloomy graduate labour market, it’s rare to get a response at all. Busy companies flooded with hundreds of applications for just one role struggle to stay on top of the admin and often bypass the process of sending a polite rejection email or one of those ‘We’ll keep your CV on file’ type responses.

However, when you do get a reply, the last thing you expect to hear is that it’s a no – because you too qualified for the position.

This is particularly a problem when looking for part-time work to tide you over while you hunt for graduate jobs, but could also crop up when applying for entry-level roles. 

How, you might ask, is being overqualified a bad thing? It’s no bad thing, but recruiters might consider you a ‘flight risk’ i.e. someone who would get bored of the job quickly and move on within a few months.

Employers don’t want to spend the time and money hunting for and training recruits who they think might leave shortly after arriving – so if you’re getting feedback that you’re overqualified for roles, try incorporating these tactics into your job hunt.

Deflect focus away from your degree

Rather than calling attention to your degree on your CV, try prioritising your skills or employment history. This is not to say your degree has no use: the skills you’ve learnt at university can be translated into skills useful for any business. You need to ‘sell’ what you’ve done at university in a way that is attractive to firms, for example by showing how your skills match up to what specific employers are after.

Make your interest obvious 

Employers like to hear why you’re interested in working at their company, so butter them up by explaining at length in your cover letter (one paragraph max) and at interview. Does the job offer opportunities for career development? Will it give you the chance to broaden your skill set? 

Beware of your body language

No matter how interested you are in the position, your body language could wreck your chances if you don’t keep it in check. Even if you say all the right things, unwittingly giving the impression that you’re bored or that the role is beneath you could affect the interviewer’s overall impression. Simple things such as sitting up straight and maintaining eye contact will convey your interest.  

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