Over – Qualified?


Academic (Photo credit: tim ellis)

I have been told during my job search that because I have a college degree and experience that I am “over-qualified.” What is that supposed to mean? How can a person be over-qualified? Isn’t being qualified a good thing?

Is a college degree a negative on the resume these days? Every single interview I have went to in the past few months, I have been told I am over qualified.

So, I am going back to a Nursing Aid job, even though I have years of office and accounting experience. I guess I should have spent the money on my degree on something else. Perhaps my own business?


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  1. playfulpups

     /  March 20, 2012

    I wish I had some great words of wisdom on this, but all I can do is agree. Employers are either afraid they will have to pay you more money, or perhaps they just feel you will keep looking for better and then quit. I say, don’t give up, persevere!

  2. I certainly sympathize, because the learning process you are going through is uncomfortable. Many colleges simply do not teach self-marketing / job-hunting skills.

    I’ve worked in retail, the entertainment industry, and health care, and I did temp work between each transition. It is important to tailor your resume to fit the “ideal” candidate for a job if you can. If that means not mentioning your degree, then don’t. What do you want most, congratulations for graduating, or a paycheck? Plus, not all degrees are of equal value. My degree in Communications got me squat job-wise, so after awhile I stopped referring to it. On the other hand, a trade school certification in X-Ray produced multiple job offers in mere weeks after graduating.

    During bad economic times there’s a heavy preference for hiring only “in demand” workers, like CNAs or Nurses. Accounting isn’t really in demand, unless you are a tax specialist. Instead of office workers, many companies hire temps, so they won’t have to pay benefits. You can still plan and save toward establishing your own business, if that’s what you want. Just don’t tell your employer.

  3. I hate that when they say you are overqualified. And for me that would be especially bad since a big part of what I do is IT/network Security, which nearly every day we hear about another business that got hacked into with financial and/or privacy loss. And I’m not even the best security expert around.

    However, I can understand the situation in a great many cases. I’m definitely overqualified for flipping burgers. I’ve never done that, though. One job I had for a while was sitting at the master control of a TV station and pushing the buttons, at the right time, to change the programs on the air, play commercials, etc. I was way overqualified for that.

    The thing about someone who is overqualified is they probably deserve more pay for a better matched job, and the current employer figures you might be just here for the short term, and will leave when that perfect job shows up. If it’s a job where they have to put in some time and effort to show you how things are done there (called training), that’s a cost to them. One of the things often taught to managers is how to find people that are going to stay. In those lessons it is learned that overqualified people do leave sooner than most.

    FYI, I’ve at times been on the hiring side, either as the manager, or as the interviewer. But it was in high tech, and I never came across anyone overqualified, though a few were exceptionally well qualified.

  4. @ readers – This was my 2nd blog post here on WordPress.com. An oldy, but a goodie!


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