Does Overqualifying a Job Create a Confidence Gap?

Overqualifying a position can create a confidence gap in job seekers who may not feel they match up to all of the skills or requirements.

Unicorns, purple squirrels, ninjas, rockstars. Recruiters use different words to describe their elusive (or non-existent) ideal candidate. Which is fine. But writing a unicorn job description that overqualifies a job can create a confidence gap in job seekers. (And likely result in a smaller candidate pool.)

What creates a confidence gap?

If job seekers read a job description and feel they don’t match up to all of the skills or requirements, they may not apply to the position. Simply put, overqualifying a position can create a confidence gap in job seekers.

Some hiring teams throw the kitchen sink at job description requirements by including a skill set that’s overly broad. It may seem innocuous, but including a big list can backfire by confusing or even putting off job seekers. And it starts to look like a downright bad idea when you consider that a single requirement can deter an otherwise qualified candidate. Rather than making a wish list, however, it’s important to choose hard skills that accurately match what the job requires. (And write a compliant job description at the same time.)

Choose requirements wisely

Job seekers view requirements as a checklist, not an either/or list. So including every skill or requirement under the sun, whether the position requires it, is a sure-fire way to create a confidence gap. 

If you’re looking for a software engineer for iOS mobile apps, for example, Swift is a reasonable programming language to include because Swift is Apple’s language of choice for iOS developers. Python isn’t, however, because it doesn’t have mobile development capabilities baked in. By including Python, you may confuse and deter Swift programmers who are perfectly capable of performing the job.

Apply that example to an entire requirements list. What if Python is on there, as well as a number of other programming languages that don’t really apply? Then it’s not just one language that a job seeker doesn’t know, it’s a few. With that, they may assume they don’t qualify and not apply.

Some recruiters go even further by including their company’s entire tech stack in their job descriptions, presumably to show what tech they use. However, no job seeker will know every piece of tech you list. You could argue that candidates will realize it’s just a wish list, but they may not. And even if they do, they still have to guess which specific platforms they need to know. 

Avoid overqualifying your jobs and creating a confidence gap

Overqualifying a role can create a confidence gap that deters qualified candidates from applying to your job. That, in turn, reduces the size of your candidate pool, which then lessens your chance of finding a qualified candidate. 

It’s not enough to copy and paste a skill set from another job description or just throw out a wish list. Rather, it’s vital to know exactly what you’re hiring for and create a clear skill set that perfectly matches the job. (Job description software can help with that.)

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