Are You Overqualified or Underqualified for That Job?

Some questions are more powerful than others.

Questions like: “To be or not to be?”, “Will you marry me?”, and of course, “Am I overqualified or underqualified for this job I’m thinking of applying to???”

Fortunately, while some questions might be a bit more complex, that last one can be dealt with rather easily once you have the right perspective!

For starters, remember that you don’t have to be a 100% match to a job posting’s listed requirements in order to apply. But you also need to narrow down what opportunities are worth YOUR time to apply!

Applying willy-nilly to every job posting you come across is going to deplete your time, and detract from the effort you should be putting into the best ones.

So if you’re thinking of applying to some jobs right now and wondering if it would be time well spent, spend a bit of time with us right now to find out!

What to do if you feel underqualified

If you’re feeling like your skills and experience might not be enough to get you hired at a potential job, you should consider a few things.

First of all, bear in mind that most job postings list more requirements than are actually required.

They also often list requirements for an ideal candidate, but not necessarily a realistic one.

There are infamous examples of tech companies asking for software engineers with a minimum of 10 years experience in a certain programming language, when that language didn’t even come out more than 5 years ago.

And while it could just be a subtle test to see if you know that, it’s far more likely to be a mistake on the part of the recruiter.

Remember, recruiters are often trying to balance the wants and needs of several managers while complying with their HR policies and company standards, among other complications. It’s easy for them to put too much in the job posting for fear that they might miss some important requirement.

But that also means that for a given role, certain listed requirements might be more… “required”…than others. If you feel like you only meet something like 8 out of 10 requirements, ask yourself which of the requirements are the biggest priority.

If you’ve still covered your bases on the most important ones, you can still apply!

Pro Tip: Anything that requires certification, such as a degree or a license, is almost always a #1 priority for employers.

Don’t be afraid to let recruiters know about your capacity to improve, either!

Sometimes called “stretch opportunities”, any requirement that you currently don’t meet but can reasonably prove that you could meet in the future is still a plus for you.

For instance, if you wanted to apply to be a dog sitter, but you only have experience as a cat sitter, you might not meet the requirement of “experience with dogs”, but you have demonstrated in the past that you can get comfortable with different types of pets!

Think about what ways you could show your recruiter that you can pick up any skill you might not have today, and you’ll show them how bright their future will be if they hire you anyways!

What to do if you feel overqualified

Being overqualified can be as big an obstacle as (if not bigger than) being underqualified.

The main reason for this is that recruiters will be suspicious of your motives for taking a position beneath your station.

They may think that you are just going to leave soon, either because you become bored or because you only took the job as a stop-gap until you find something better.

Before applying to a job that you seem overqualified for, consider why you are interested in that job and be ready to assure your recruiter that you mean well and won’t leave them high and dry!

One common reason for applying for a job in this case is because you’re looking to break into a new industry, or work your way up at a different company. That humility can actually be a relief to a recruiter, instead of a risk.

Pro Tip: Never indicate to your recruiter that you feel overqualified, or else you will come off as arrogant or unappreciative. Simply be prepared to explain why you’re applying if they bring it up first.

It’s also quite possible that though you are overqualified on paper, you are just on par with the other candidates.

Don’t forget to emphasize the unique value you bring to the table with your hard-earned skills and experience! You don’t need to brag about how you’re the best of the best, when you aren’t even playing the same game.

And if you’re considering applying for contract work, being overqualified can actually be exactly what they’re looking for. They need someone who can get up to speed instantly — and that momentum could carry you forward into a full time position!


Stop worrying about whether you’re qualified for the job, and start asking yourself whether the job is qualified for YOU!

Being less generous with your job applications allows you to focus on your real career goals and put more effort into impressing the right employers.

For help finding and applying for great opportunities, don’t forget to talk to the friendly staff at META today!

Belleville Office

Unit 8, 161 Bridge Street W. 
Belleville, ON K8P 1K2

Phone: 613-966-9069
Toll Free: 1-888-401-9636
Fax: 613-966-7357

Bancroft Office

Unit 3 124 Hastings St. N
Bancroft ON

Office: 613-332-3115 ext 202
Mobile Phone: 613-202-1584
Fax: 1-866-705-4520