Wrote this post a while ago, then re-purposed it on LinkedIn over the weekend. Did OK there (maybe 1,000 views and a handful of comments) and one of the comments jumped out to me first. It was about the whole notion of getting rejected for a job because you’re overqualified. I heard this a few times in my job search, although admittedly I heard other, more diverse complaints more. I started thinking about this on the way into work today. Follow my logic here:
- It’s believed that we live in a culture where (a) everyone is always busy and (b) business needs are constantly evolving.
- Think about social media in this context: years ago, that wasn’t even a wing of most organizations. (For some, it still isn’t.) Now orgs have 10+ people doing that.
- We’re always told we should be valuing things like curiosity when we hire new people.
OK, so …
Stop and Think Section
If we’re supposed to be looking for curious people and our business needs are constantly evolving, how does the word overqualified fit into a hiring discussion?
See, I understand there’s a baseline idea — like, if I was the former CEO of General Electric, I probably wouldn’t want to become the Twitter handle for some small business, no. But within a range of people mostly having low-middle to high-middle jobs, how can someone be overqualified for a role?
If they need a job, they take a job. If they’re curious and understand the shifting roles of the organization, they’ll find a way to do more and come across as more valuable.
Basically, the base idea of giving someone an opportunity would seem to overshadow the concept of Oh, you’re overqualified for this role.
My Own Deal
I think about my current situation sometimes: I took a job and I wouldn’t say I was overqualified for it, no. If you look at my resume and my LinkedIn and my accomplishments and all that, it seems about right. But the base way it was construed at first was managing a homepage. As you may know, many believe the homepage (as a concept) is dying; people come to sites through disparate articles they find on Google, on social, etc. They don’t necessarily bookmark a homepage and continually return to that. (Some do.)
As a result, that initial role was a little bit limiting. (Also, does it take 8-10 hours a day to change a homepage? Not really.) So I decided to add roles and responsibilities on top of that, including some overlapping with other departments. I did this because (apologies for blowing smoke up my ass) I’m a curious person. I wanted to learn more and I wanted to feel like I was contributing. I wrote about that a little bit here.
Point is: maybe (a little bit) you could make a case that at point of hire, within context of role, I was overqualified. But I chose to do something and learn more things, etc. That should be how most employees come in and play it. As a result, can you really be “overqualified” for a job, especially in an org who keeps fretting about their business goals changing? Someone with a lot of experience could be helpful there, no? (And you’d be paying them less!)
The Bottom Line
I think most people use overqualified as a synonym for old or we don’t really want to pay you as much as you’re worth, but I could be wrong there. (Ah, skirting the legal system.)