Of the many things the recession messed up — and I think we can all agree it really ruined a lot — plans were the biggest victim. Once the economy went kaput, your future suddenly became a little less certain. Could you afford to maintain your lifestyle? Was it the best time to switch jobs? Could you save enough for your upcoming wedding after pay cuts? The ramifications were endless.
In Sunday’s New York Times, writer Michael Luo touched on a phenomenon that is occurring throughout the country: overqualified workers who are satisfied just being employed. As Luo points out, many job postings give the basic requirements for candidates, but many applicants have experience and education that theoretically qualifies them for much higher positions. When these job seekers find themselves in these positions, they experience some insecurity but have some satisfaction that at least they’re working.
Academic research on the subject confirms that workers who perceive themselves as overqualified do, in fact, report lower job satisfaction and higher rates of turnover. But the studies also indicate that those workers tend to perform better. Moreover, there is evidence that many of the negatives that come with overqualified hires can be mitigated if they are given autonomy and made to feel valued and respected.
The new variable in all of this is the continuing grim economic climate. Many workers’ ambitions have evolved, after all, from climbing the ladder to simply holding on to a job, any job. Turnover would also seem to be less of a concern amid predictions that it could be years before unemployment returns to pre-recession levels.
As a result, Luo points out, many overqualified workers are struggling to accept their current situation without letting insecurity appear.
For his part, Mr. Carroll admitted that he had caught himself often trying to drop his credentials into conversations at his new workplace.
“Obviously that stems from maybe some embarrassment at the level that I’m at,” he said. “I do want people to know that, to some extent, this isn’t who I am.”
Have you found yourself in this situation in the last couple of years? How have you dealt with being overqualified? Some job seekers have said that “overqualified” is a useless term because all that matters is whether or not a person wants the job and is qualified for it. Do you agree? Let us know your thoughts.