Be Upfront About Why You Want an Inferior Job

Q: In the May 27 Shop Talk item--"Best Way to Turn Down Job Applicant"--you seemed to be giving advice to reject job seekers who by choice or need wish to take a position for which they might be overqualified.

If the job seeker is satisfied with taking a lower job position with lower pay, why should he or she be turned down? Isn't this just another form of job discrimination?

What should our approach be to employers when making such an application?

--A.N, Los Angeles


A: Since the question made it clear that the employer had already decided to reject the overqualified applicant, I simply was advising the employer to tell the applicant the reason for rejection. I did not intend to suggest that employers should not hire individuals whom they deem overqualified for a position.

There are many reasons why an employer might be reluctant to hire an overqualified individual.

The employer might be concerned that the person would become bored and unmotivated by performing unchallenging duties.

The employer might be concerned about the stability of such an employee, fearing that he or she will leave when a higher-level position becomes available.

The employer could even reject an applicant because the employer believes that the applicant should, for his or her own good, seek a higher-level position.

Yet, as you note, many individuals are willing and eager to take positions for which they are overqualified. What should they do?

Address the issue directly in your cover letter. Let the prospective employer know upfront that you realize that you may be overqualified for a particular job, but explain why you are willing to accept the position, and why you will work hard.

--Ron Riggio, director

Kravis Leadership Institute

Claremont McKenna College


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