Overqualified

December 7, 2009

For the longest time, I’ve been hearing that a master’s degree is the new bachelor’s degree. To be competitive in today’s market, you need to stand out; you need to appear better than the competition. And in order to be considered for many positions, a master’s degree is essential.

I graduated with my master’s degree in May. Despite the ridiculous economy, I was confident in the fact that I would find a good job. I had a few interviews right out of the gate, and I was even offered a position, which I had to turn down.

Recently, I’ve hit a wall. From the few responses that I’ve received, it would appear that I am “overqualified.” Although every person has their own way of wording it, it’s what they’ve all been saying:

“I think that you have obtained a more senior professional level than we are sourcing for this position.”

“We cannot currently identify a position which would fully utilize your talents.”

What does it even mean to be overqualified? If a position requires certain qualifications, and I meet every single one, then by my assessment I am qualified; I have met the qualifications.

If a company can hire someone for a lesser position than they are qualified (which probably means paying them less, too), then they’re getting the biggest bang for their buck. They now have a person on staff who can perform above and beyond the position’s needs. Instead of taking on a hire who is just capable of getting by, why not hire someone who has a proven track record of exceeding expectations?

With the economy being what it is, companies are afraid to hire the overqualified; they’re scared that once they bring someone on board that person will soon leave for something better. But I think that’s a risk companies should be willing to take.

Hire the overqualified person, or hire the average person? The answer seems simple.

– Missy Schwartz