Why You Are Not Overqualified

Last Updated Jun 27, 2011 3:40 PM EDT

In the past few weeks I've gotten a lot of emails from people who claim to be "overqualified." To quote that philosophical genius, Inigo Montoya, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

Here are some quotes:
Most of the people at the corporation did not have degrees or only possessed associate's degrees and a few had Bachelor's degrees. I have a Bachelor's and a Master's degree and I was technically 'overqualified' for the job.
With the first writer, she had both a bachelor's and a master's degree for a job that didn't require them. Yippee. I have a bachelor's and a master's degree as well, but that doesn't mean I'm overqualified to run a cash register at the grocery store. What I am overqualified to do is employee turnover reports because I've done thousands of those. I could do them with my eyes shut. I can make graphs and charts and power point presentations all talking about turnover. I can tell you the advantages and disadvantages of different mathematical formulas for calculating turnover. I am overqualifed for that job. However, I haven't run a cash register for close to 20 years, so I'm not overqualified for a cashier job.
I am also overqualified and it's not even my industry really.
The second person claims to be overqualified in the same breath where he points out that he's not working in "his" industry. Then chances are, he's underqualified for his job. If you're not familiar with the industry, they are giving you a break and take the opportunity to learn so that you become qualified to work in that industry. It doesn't matter how much you know about a different industry--or job--what matters is how much you know about this industry or this job.
Well she said she had made up her mind and that she needs someone who pays attention to detail so even though I have been with the company for almost 2 years been promoted to an outter office and have raving reviews from 3 supervisors and am still overqualified for the job she will not consider me.
I can tell you right now one of the things that makes letter writer number 3 under qualified for whatever position it is that she wants--she pays no attention to detail. Grammar errors happen even to the best of us. I understand that. But, don't tell me that the reason you can't get a promotion to a job that requires attention to detail is that you're overqualified, when your email is filled with run on sentences.

So many people confuse being qualified for a job with being overqualified for every job that pays less money than one of the jobs you're qualified to do. Many people (especially new college graduates) think that because they have a degree they are instantly overqualified for any job that doesn't require a degree. Let me ask you, Mr. Philosophy major, could you fix plumbing problems? No? Gee, but being a plumber doesn't require a college degree. It does, however, require intense training and a ton of experience to do it and do it well.

Thinking that you're overqualified can lead to misery and resentment and your coworkers will think you're an idiot. Instead, try looking at what qualifications you really have and what ones are needed for the job at hand. Even though you are qualified for other jobs it doesn't necessarily mean that you are overqualified for the one you have.

Approach every job like a learning experience. There is something that can be gained that you can take with you and apply in other, better paying job, in the future. Whining about being overqualified just causes you to miss out on what you could be learning.

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