Why your Logic on “Over experience” is flawed (and so is your company)

I have done a lot of searching for employment, in fact as of recently I applied for over 200 jobs, mostly in my field of expertise, some that are not. What I learned is that I hit the wall of “over experience”. I am sure many have hit this wall as well. In this piece I look to explore the flawed logic of decision makers who pass over people who are perfect for the job.

Before we start I want to say that I have already worked Executive level for quite some time now and I have learned quickly (through my recruiting of several years) that a lot of people that oversee hiring either don’t have the capacity to vet properly or they never were given a good idea of who they want. So I am not exploring the aspect of recruiters that run through those problems rather the entire logic of decision makers passing over a fully qualified candidate.

As a candidate I am a full-on mercenary, you pay me, and I will work the job. I don’t usually care of the industry or what exactly the company does, I just know that I will execute a job and get it done right. I have NEVER been fired from any job, and usually have been asked to work longer after giving my 2 weeks. This tells me that I am a valued employee, but why does this not translate to the job market well?

As of lately through the numerous rejections I question my place in the work environment. I don’t know or understand what companies want these days and that is probably why each of them will fail with their employees. I was told I am overqualified for several positions that I applied for, and through some unexplained logic, I am thus less valuable a candidate.

This logic that employers carry is something I have never followed because it doesn’t work, you want to innovate but you don’t want to try anything new, you want reward but you don’t want risk, and most importantly you want good talent but won’t take on somebody that is better than your expectations.

That said I made a brutally honest Complaint & Reason guide to learn from and included my own “over experience” in it.

“Well they won’t stay long!”

Your company probably sucks. That’s not the candidate’s fault, it’s yours.

I’ve went back to jobs that payed me significantly less than I was worth because I liked the workplace. I even kept secondary jobs while working high paying ones because I enjoyed it. If your company is relying on hiring the most uninspired staff, then don’t be surprised when your final products are lackluster.

“It’s never worth it for the short term”

You don’t know how to extract value from your staff and you probably don’t deserve it with that attitude.

I have had executive work for me 3-7 months. Every month was the risk that they would get another job (In fact I used to take their reference phone calls for new jobs). They were way overqualified for the position they were working in, but I took all that info from them, developed relationships and even though they left for another industry I now have contacts that can provide external relations. If your attitude is only to obtain you long term goal while ignoring short term benefits the chances are your staff are miserable.

“They will probably ask for a raise”

Chances are they are going to provide that value or above and you are being stingy.

I clearly explain trajectories of jobs and what its future rewards may be. A sales division I run is told that if they do well there is justification for better bonuses and more work, the framework is established, and the destination is set. Staff appreciate knowing where they are going. Take into effect that perhaps they have lowered your costs or increased your revenue, do they not deserve some sort of new standard as well if they just raised yours?

“They might try and go for my job”

You know you deserve to be fired and hopefully will be OR Your company culture is too cutthroat

This isn’t a spoken problem as its usually hidden in the psyche of managers. They have a paranoia that they might have to work because somebody could be better. If your culture is that cutthroat then other staff are probably just as paranoid. For my organizations I let people know that its probably more beneficial that somebody can help them out more on the higher level than just having brain dead staff. Perhaps another manager wouldn’t be a bad thing as it lightens the load or creates more work.

“They won’t be interested in this job”

You are presumptive OR you just like wasting peoples time

Understandably in today's market sometimes we must take jobs we aren’t particularly keen on, but that’s exactly what the interview is for. Explain to great length what the job is about and ask if it’s truly what they want. Assuming somebody won’t be interested in a job they took the time to apply to and came into an interview for is idiotic. Perhaps the candidate wants to move up the ranks to something more suited?

“They don’t have specific industry experience”

Candidate might be looking to switch to an industry they are more interested

Other times you might find a candidate interested in moving to something that is truly there calling. I have hired several people who had 0% experience in the industry but had 100% interest in getting involved. Take for example some college professors, a lot have no experience in formal teaching but have trained and managed many people. Having specific industry experience does not mean the candidate is interested in it. If you doubt their abilities, test them first.

“They will be bored”

They might just be looking for less responsibility

I once quit a job to work in a totally irrelevant industry to my qualifications. The main reason was due to having too much pressure and just wanting to have no managerial duties. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.

If they are truly bored, they might find something productive to do automatically, if not then you can always give them challenging tasks, and chances are they will appreciate the chance to do something stimulating.

“I don’t know what to make of them”

You are a terrible recruiter and should probably find a different job.

The choices are 1 of 2. Hire or do not hire. If you seriously can’t tell if you like a candidate and you find this to be a regular problem, you shouldn’t be part of the process. Recruiting is a very person to person routine. You are a judge of character and need to be able to decide.

“I just want to pick the safe choice”

You are afraid of risk and don’t want to disrupt the status quo

Usually these types of companies are eaten whole by more innovative and risk seeking companies.

“They won’t be focused”

You are unrealistic and self-centered

This phrase is usually used by the worst type of decision makers. They don’t hire staff they hire servants.

Most people work their hours and have lives outside of work. Very rarely, if ever, have I ever met a worker who was so distracted by outside ventures they couldn’t perform the duties they were hired for. Are they not allowed to pursue other interests? When I hear this phrase, I know that the decision maker has proven their stupidity and doesn’t see people as much more as servants that should dedicate their being to the company. Most staff that I hire, I learn later, have several organizations they work/volunteer for. It only shows that they keep busy and have extracurricular activities that may help their overall skills improve.


If there’s one harsh truth about being overqualified, its that its somehow just as bad as having no experience at all. The solutions lay in the few decision makers who are intelligent and intuitive enough to pick up job seekers that have that experience. These companies do exist but there aren’t enough of them. I’ve met some great business owners and they appreciate people with experience. If more of these types of people are in charge, we might finally see an end to this logic of wanting experience but not too much experience. Time will tell.

Federal Party Director of Citizen Party

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