Ask A Recruiter: I’m Definitely Overqualified. Why Won’t They Hire Me?

This is a sticky subject, but something that I’m very passionate about. As a recruiter, this is a difficult conversation to navigate unless you have an open and honest relationship with your candidates.

Far too often, people will reach out to recruiters (or apply directly) for jobs that they are severely overqualified for. For example, they’ll be the VP of Sales applying to an entry level business development representative. Of course, everyone looking at this resume “intellectually” knows that a VP of Sales is extremely capable of making 100 outbound calls to prospective clients and most likely has several years of experience doing so. But that is NOT the reason why you aren’t getting the job.

Recruiters and Hiring Managers are not in the business of hiring employees for the sake of having a body in the position. They have to consider a lot of factors including longevity, career pathing, and more. But let’s continue with the VP of Sales example and break down some things we consider:

You will be bored

As a VP of Sales, you were probably in charge of making strategic company decisions, managing enterprise-scale relationships, and leading a successful sales team. Despite how willing you think you are to take on any type of sales role, being placed on an outbound dialer and siloed into a team that has never even done sales before is going to be difficult transition. Be honest with yourself, you are going to want more of a challenge than that.

Compensation doesn’t align

If your last job was a VP of Sales, you will NEVER be able to match compensation, even close, if you took a BDR role. That’s just facts. And it’s not a matter of the company not being able to pay you what you are worth. If the company needs a VP of Sales, then they will budget that. Vice Versa, if the company needs BDRs, they will realistically budget that.


This is the biggest reason you aren’t getting hired. Businesses are looking to grow strategically with employees that are in it for the long haul. Now more than ever, I am seeing companies put strong emphasis on fostering education and growth to help move people through the ranks. Let’s put a realistic spin on this example: Say you were unfortunately laid off from your VP position and at this point, you need to get a job to maintain some sort of income. There’s nothing wrong with that at all, BUT from a hiring manager perspective, the concern is that you will jump ship the second a better opportunity comes along. If you accept the BDR role; there is no question that you will continue to look for another leadership position until you land one. The harsh truth is that companies don’t want to take that risk for high turn over. It’s just facts.

Something else both recruiters and hiring managers see on a regular basis are job seekers applying for jobs that they have NO experience for. For example, a Director of Marketing applying for a chef at a restaurant and hinging their odds of getting the job on how long they’ve been in the workforce. The misconception is that leadership titles or number of years’ of experience justify being qualified for ANY job beneath their current role.


So what’s the solution?

Maybe you did get laid off from your VP title and are truly open to taking a step down, with the hopes of growing with a better, more well-suited company.

You HAVE to have an advocate. Someone HAS to go to bat for you. Otherwise, you probably have a 1-3% chance of getting an interview, simply by popping your resume through a portal.

Tap your network. Find connections where you want to work. Better yet, find a recruiter that can provide authority to your situation. You need someone to champion your value proposition to a company. Yes, it will take more effort on your part but fuel that effort with your passion and excitement to land at a company that will make you happy.

And don’t sell yourself short! Why do you want to settle for a role that doesn’t challenge or shape you? Find something where you can make a difference and use your whole arsenal of experience. Life is too short to have a job you don’t love. #2019

If you are looking for assistance with a similar situation, please don’t hesitate to reach out to anyone on our team – we’d be happy to help you!

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