How to Tell If You're Overqualified for Your Job – and What to Do About It

How to Tell If You're Overqualified for Your Job – and What to Do About It
From Recruiter - September 2, 2017

Does your job fail to make use of your full potential? Do you find yourself twiddling your thumbs all day orconstantly distracted because your work is too easy? Have you been stuck in the same role for years with little to no chance for advancement?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, itspossible youre overqualified for your joband youre not alone.

Overqualification, real or perceived, can cause psychological strain that manifests as stress, low job satisfaction, and a lack of commitment to ones company, according to a study coauthored by Michael Harari, Ph.D., assistant professoratFlorida Atlantic Universitys College of BusinessDepartment of Management Programs. When a worker occupies a position that doesnt match their expectations, it can be difficult for them to dedicate themselves to their job.

Perceived Vs. Actual Overqualification

Before singing that old country song about taking this job and shoving it, take some time to appraise your situation. Find out whether you are actually overqualifiedor just have unrealistic expectations.

In our research, we looked at the relationship between objective overqualificationusually measured as level of education in relation to job requirementsand overqualification beliefs or perceptions, says Harari. Although they did overlap, there was also a good degree of distance between the two.

The study found that employees who are narcissistic, generally negative, or on the younger side are more likely to believe they are overqualified for their roles. Its easy to see why narcissistic and negative people are more likely to perceive themselves as overqualified, but why do younger employees tend to see themselves as overqualified, too?

Harari has a few thoughts: We thought that the age effect could be due to the need to take a job below ones skill level to gain entry into the workforce. However, other factors could be at play. For example, younger workers might be more naive about the full scope of their job requirements or may overestimate how their skill set stacks up against those of their older (and therefore, generally more experienced) coworkers.

If an employee feels underutilized, they should bring this to the attention of their supervisor. That being said, its important they take a good, hard look at theirrole before doing so. Otherwise, they could come across as arrogant.

In order to determine if they are actually overqualified, employees should become familiar with their job specifications, Harari says.They should, as objectively as possible, evaluate how their qualifications compare to each and every requirement listed, rather than focusing on one or two where they might be particularly strong.

Setting Realistic Expectations


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