What to Do if You Are Overqualified for Your Job

Nancy Anderson
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Life as an overqualified employee can be frustrating, whether you're new to the position or you've been with a company for years. Before you start searching for a new job, try these strategies to make the most of your current situation.

Do a Reality Check

Before you do anything else, take time for a reality check. Are you actually an overqualified employee, or is it simply a perception? Start with an objective assessment. If your education and work history meet or exceed the requirements of a more senior-level position, or if you spent years in a similar job at another company, you're probably overqualified. When it comes to more subjective factors, such as constant boredom or lightning-fast project completion, be careful. Boredom can be due to complete mastery, but it might also stem from a dislike of the work. If you work faster than other employees, check the quality of each product to ensure that you're putting in adequate detail and depth.

Ask for More

As an overqualified employee, you may find yourself with excess free time. Instead of filling the hours with Facebook, ask for more responsibility. Request to take over project management, or take on a more significant role in client communication. If that's not possible, build new skills by assisting other workers with their tasks. This strategy is particularly effective if you're new to the company and not in a position for promotion. By taking the initiative, you can impress your boss and become an invaluable part of the team.

Move Up

When you've exhausted all the possibilities for advancement and development within your current position, the natural next step is to request a promotion. Present your case, highlighting accomplishments, extra work and special skills, and ask to be considered for a more senior-level job. There's no need to explain that you're an overqualified employee — the evidence should speak for itself. When a promotion is not available, request a raise and a better title. If you are denied, but you love the company, consider a move to a different department to find fresh challenges and develop new skills.

Move Out

Sometimes, the only option for an overqualified employee is to move on. Your company might not have an open senior-level position, or there might not be room in the budget for a raise. If you're new, you might not be eligible for a promotion for a full year. Some employers take workers for granted or deny advancement to save money. Whatever the reason, an impasse indicates that it's time to search for a new job that fulfills your mental and financial requirements.

For an overqualified employee, the lack of stimulation and challenge can lead to boredom and burnout. Assessing your situation and taking action to improve it improves your career and guarantees forward movement.

Photo courtesy of reynermedia at Flickr.com


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  • Wil F.
    Wil F.

    Ask yourself next time you board a commercial aircraft looking into the cockpit......or lie on a gurney in a hospital hallway waiting for your surgery..... "I sure hope the guy isn't over-qualified". How did we ever get to such nonsense in the job-search vernacular ?

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