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What does too much experience really mean?

Being turned away for a role because you've got too much experience or over-qualified sounds counter intuitive, right?

Career advice – seek.com.au 4 June 2015Please enter an image description.

Being turned away for a role because you’ve got too much experience or over-qualified sounds counter intuitive, right? So why is this line used by employers and recruiters? To shine some light on this issue, we chatted to a few recruitment experts to find out what having too much experience really means.

Yep, you actually have too much experience

This is usually the case if a candidate has applied for a role which is below the level of experience, capability, or qualification that was outlined in their application. This can happen for a couple of reasons, says SEEK Recruitment Consultant Scott Dann. ‘Either the advertisement wasn’t clear about the nature of the role, or the candidate has not carefully read the advertisement.’

Nathalie Dupavillon, a consultant at McArthur Recruitment highlights that ‘employers must consider whether an overqualified employee might quickly tire of the work, lose interest in their role, and begin looking elsewhere within a matter of months’.

Experience is not the issue; you’re unfit for the role for other reasons

This is where some of the harsher truths are revealed, as the too much experience  line is often used when the employer or recruiter doesn’t want to have the difficult discussion around why a candidate isn’t suitable for the role, claims Dann. Whether it’s around competency, culture fit, or qualifications, he says that, ‘unfortunately, this can be a common response trotted out in these instances.’

It’s not to say these other issues are illegitimate, they may just be harder subjects to broach, and hence there’s a reluctance to discuss them at length with candidates. They are more easily summarised under the too much experience banner.

How can you overcome it?

While the realities may seem daunting, candidates can do a few things when preparing a job application to minimise the use of the ever-allusive overqualified line, and more importantly, get truly relevant and constructive feedback .

To ensure candidates are suitable, employers and recruiters advise that all candidates should thoroughly research the role and organisation they want to work for. Apply for jobs that speak directly to your experience, and where you can see yourself fitting into the culture.

Further to this, Dann says that, ‘where possible, call the employer or recruiter first and introduce yourself .’

‘Gain a sound understanding of what level the role falls under and explain any circumstances within your application that may not be clear at first glance.’

Dupavillon added that candidates need to ‘ demonstrate genuine interest in the position and how it fits into what they need and want now’.