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When overqualification for a job becomes a major disadvantage

Candidates can convince search committees, employers they are the right choice by showing passion for an organization’s mission

Jan. 6, 2017
By Walt Williams

Oliver Tessier is now an executive coach but he was once a nonprofit executive who found himself in Washington, D.C., with a pregnant wife, a new house and a job that didn’t work out, so he did what many people would do in that situation—he took a position that was below his skill set.

"When this came along, it was an opportunity to be a CEO, and I thought that either I will turn this organization around and make a name for myself or it will continue to fail,” he said.

Luckily for Tessier’s career, the former turned out to be case. At the time, no one brought up the fact the CEO seemed overqualified for the job, but Tessier has seen the issue pop up in several job searches his firm has conducted.

“We do see overqualified candidates sometimes and we are skeptical,” he said. “What would convince me to accept an overqualified candidate is a very good story and a passion for the work.”