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"Overqualified" for a job

wantingToWork Community member Posts: 1 Listener
edited December 2020 in Work and employment
I wondered if anyone had been rejected for a role that was perfect for them with the dreaded word "overqualified".

I've been out of work for a few years after I struggled to manage my disability in a hostile workplace. I can't get an interview for roles at the level I was at before with a big gap on mv CV, and to be honest I wouldn't want to jump straight back in, as I've got older and my disability affects me more I don't think it would be a good idea to return to the same level I was working at before, and after this gap.

I've had help from Scope and other organisations to change my CV, and think about what kind of work I want to do and can do. I'm realistic, and just want to work.

I found a perfect job that I knew I could do, with an incredibly well known employer I wanted to work for that claimed to be "inclusive", that I knew wouldn't affect my health because I could do - and would enjoy doing - all the tasks on the job spec. And it was a fixed short term contract, so perfect to allow me to get my feet back into work.

And after the interview they rejected me, telling me I was "overqualified". 

This makes me so angry. I know the "disability pay gap" is a real thing and it is bad that disabled people feel they have to apply for jobs for which they are "overqualified". But sometimes it's the right thing to do based on our health at the time.

It just feels so patronising to have an employer tell you they think you are "overqualified". I know my health and what suits me at the time, I know I can do the job, and want to do the job or I wouldn't have applied. I wish they would at least give me a better reason to reject me and think about what I can offer rather than being afraid of me. If they gave a real reason, I could address it and argue against it and show that it's not the case. But "overqualified" just feels like an insult, like I am too stupid to realise what I'm applying for!


  • Cher_Alumni
    Cher_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 5,740 Disability Gamechanger
    edited December 2020
    Hi @wantingToWork and welcome to our community.  I'm glad you found us :)

    I get everything you have said, and truly feel how frustrated you rightly are.  When you know in your gut that something is right for you to be turned away on the basis of being overqualified hurts.  It once happened to me when I similarly was trying to get back into employment after a gap in my work-history due to illness.  I was sure I could do the job, felt I performed well enough at interview and thought it would be a good means of regaining my confidence, but alas I got the same feedback.  It should be a compliment but it sure as heck doesn't feel like one!

    Saying this, I'd really urge you not to let this stop you in your tracks or slow your momentum down in applying for jobs.  This one employers opinion is just that, their opinion and although the odds aren't stacked in the favour of disabled employees, inclusive employers do exist.  We not too long ago posted a thread about looking for jobs that you might find useful, so maybe give that a read.  Also, if you ever have any questions just give our community a shout.  

    Sending lots of virtual luck your way!  I really hope the perfect job for you is just around the corner.  
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  • chiarieds
    chiarieds Community member Posts: 16,143 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @wantingToWork - & welcome to the community. Many years ago, whilst trying to get a job before I started my physio training (& altho I have a genetic disorder which was beginning to affect me, I didn't know what 'it' was that was causing me some difficulties), I was repeatedly told that I was overqualified for the jobs that were available. I did eventually get a job.
    Perhaps it's not always about any disability, but rather an employer feeling you would soon leave to get a better job. At least that's the impression I got then.
    I have no idea if this would work, but I'd write back saying exactly why you want this job; why it matters to you, & you know you can offer a lot to the role; that you didn't apply on a whim, but because you really wanted the job, & you would like them to reconsider.
  • janer1967
    janer1967 Community member Posts: 21,964 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi and welcome 

    I had the same trouble when I was made redundant 

    I had a good payout so I didnt need to earn as much as I had b4 and was looking for something with less responsibility after 30 years in stressful roles 

    I kept getting told I was over qualified and I wasnt disabled at the time 

    They are just worried you will leave or in some cases be better at the job than them 

    I learnt how to play down my skills and experience at interview 
  • Tori_Scope
    Tori_Scope Scope Posts: 12,507 Disability Gamechanger
    Welcome to the community @wantingToWork :) How are you today? 

    I'm sorry that you experienced that. I'm sure it must be very frustrating. Try and keep the faith that you'll end up finding the right role, though. Other opportunities will pop-up soon I'm sure. 
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  • [Deleted User]
    [Deleted User] Posts: 1,651 Connected
    Yep, in June 1998 I set myself up for an interview at the former Co Op in Hillsborough to be a Checkout Operator, there was a lot wrong with the interview in general IMO, they said they mainly have female Checkout Operators, which even in 1998 had to be highly suspect under various gender related laws, and the Manageress also looked at my record of achievement from College and school and told me to my face that shop work was "beneath me" as I was more qualified than most of their senior management!

    I wouldn't mind but nearly a year previous I'd left a College course gaining NVQs in Retail plus I was on the Jobseeker's at the time so the onus was on me to attend at least 1 interview a week.

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