"You’re overqualified" may be the worst of many bad reasons for not getting the job. The message to the candidate is plain: not only have you failed, you have also wasted time and effort building up redundant diplomas, superfluous career experience and unnecessary technical skills. The glib rejection hides a range of concerns including the fear that such applicants will be too costly (even if they protest they are ready to work for below their market rate); too snooty (despite their grovelling displays of humility), or too hard to please (notwithstanding their desire for one thing and one thing only: that job). Meanwhile, at the highest levels of most organisations, the cult of busyness prevails. The assumption that it is almost always great to be stretched, and terrible to be slack, encourages the idea that relentless striving, up to the brink of chronic overwork, is optimal. Downtime, on the other hand, has become a sin.It turns out, though, that the joke is on the recruiters. A s...

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