Thursday, May 22, 2014

Underemployed and Overqualified

When you put it that way, maybe I will just start saying I am employment-challenged. Some choice quotes:
“There’s no such thing as overqualified, only ‘I can find a job I prefer more’.”

First of all the word “overqualified” should be stricken from the dictionary. Overqualified implies a person with one set of skills is inherently too awesome to do a job which relies on a different (subjectively lesser) set of skills. If you’ve got your head in the clouds it makes sense. If you’ve lived in the real world you know it’s utterly untrue. 
“Overqualified” is an idea which should be killed with fire. It’s a failure of reasoning that crawled from the gaping maws of pinheads who should know better. Nitwits that tend to confuse “someone who can make more money doing something else” with “radioactive”. They also confuse “we treat employees like scum and they crawl on their hands and knees to escape us” with “all those employees that ran screaming from our little hellhole were overqualified”.
So, I'm still looking for a job and I have in my mind what that job should look like. I've struggled with the whole idea of being overqualified - part of the problem is ego (which is basically what the Adaptive Curmudgen is talking about), but on the flip side, I have been passed over for a job because the employer thought I was overqualified and would bolt for greener pastures. They came to that decision after three face-to-face interviews and having at least a couple of unsolicited references provided on my behalf. (Speaking of opposites, there are a lot of jobs where I am underqualified despite twenty years of experience, two masters degrees, and several certifications as I'm not as hands-on as I once was.)

I find there is much less stress when I think in terms of what will make me happy regardless of being under or overqualified:

- staying in Knoxville
- interesting work
- being surrounded by nice people
- not a sweat shop
- opportunity for growth and development
- a good salary and benefits

My desire to stay in Knoxville is the biggest hurdle in finding the right job. Fingers crossed that I will find the job here for which I am qualified and will give me a chance at being happy.


  1. What are your degrees and experience?
    Would you take a job that allows you to work from home with extensive travel to client sites?

    1. See that's another part of my problem... I don't want to be away from my family a lot. I feel like one of those entitled whiners that I would make fun of when I say things like that. Obviously, I want my cake and eat it, too.

      Degree: BA in Psychology and MBA from the University of Tennessee, MSc in Information Systems from the London School of Economics

      Almost 20 years in IT in manufacturing - leading a global IT organization for an automotive company with locations in the US, China, and Mexico for the last (almost) 10 years

      PMP, ITIL certifications

      I think I look pretty good on paper. :/

  2. I have 2 comments on this. First, in my 20 years of IT-related experience, you are in the top 2 managers/leaders I've worked for, basically the 2 of you are tied. I purposefully include leader because anybody can be labeled a manager, but most managers I've dealt with haven't really been leaders.

    Second, the overqualified reasoning is simplistic and short-sighted, particularly in management positions. What if the hiring manager were to leave/die/retire in 6-12 months? Would it not be responsible to have hired someone who is fully capable of stepping up and assuming their role? That's part of succession planning.

  3. Maybe you are "one of those entitled whiners"...

    1. You have several options:
      1. Take a less than perfect job (like the rest of us working stiffs) and be a productive member of society.
      2. Stop whining
      3. Continue to piss and moan while passing up ripe opportunities (one of which I would have shared with you - had I not learned you were so picky).

    2. I started this partly to vent/whine and as a way to think about where I am, so I'll respond. I appreciate your response as a way for me to look at my situation from different perspectives.

      1. Maybe I wasn't clear about (and I know I didn't offer the full details of) my job search. I've applied for jobs that were a stretch. I've applied for jobs for which I'm "over-qualified." I've applied for jobs that I was underqualified - usually because I'm not as technical as I was earlier in my career. I've applied for everything in between. I've interviewed for some of each - phone interviews, one on one, group interviews, even an on-line Wonder-lic for one.

      I've tried to get back to being "a productive member of society."

      I am consulting a tiny little bit, so if working equals being productive then I'm doing something above zero. I also think spending more time with my daughter and wife is a good thing. I got to go on a field trip a fire station that I probably would not have made time for if I was working full-time. I think getting my ITIL and PMP certs were good uses of my time.

      2. Whining? Venting? I don't think I do a lot of this on-line or IRL -- no matter what one labels it. Sometimes the frustration comes out. Also, since it is my blog, I can whine, boast, say stupid things, cajole, be incoherent, etc.. You can read or not. Comment or not. Choices.

      3. I think this is basically a combination of 1 and 2. I don't know of any ripe opportunities that I've passed up. As for being picky, we all make choices in life. For example, I want to stay in Knoxville. I moved away three times and have moved back each time. My wife has a job here that she really likes, so she would have to give that up if we relocated. If I was travelling all the time it would make it hard on her since she does work - and I would miss evenings with my daughter. My parents and my wife's parents aren't to the point that they need help, but that's coming. So I don't want to move away and find I need to move back.

      Anyway... a few more of my thoughts.

  4. Look buddy, there is a reason why you're unemployed. I remember seeing a picture you posted at disney a while back. If you're unemployed, you shouldn't be going on expensive vacations.

    BTW-- you're welcome. For what? The unemployment checks that my hard work pays for.

    Get real.

    1. I'm sure there is a reason. I'm not exactly sure what the reason is. Thus my thinking out loud/online.

      I think what you mean to say is that one shouldn't go on expensive vacations if they can't afford them. My being unemployed does necessarily mean I cannot afford to take that trip.

      Also, I'm pretty sure that I've had more taken out of my paycheck for the unemployment system than I will ever get back, so no worries about taking anything that your hard work pays for.

      Thanks again for the dialogue!

  5. The problem with this Anonymous thing is that everyone looks to be the same person. Just in case it seems that I am the one coming down hard on you, well, it looks like this is more of a trialog than a dialog. I'm the one that posted the "options" above... not the "look buddy" crap above. Point being if your wife is working, I believe you have more latitude in the productive society department (but that typically wears a bit thin with most women regardless of what they tell you about being of a liberated mindset). Good thing that you are taking advantage of the opportunities to be engaged in your kid's life. And I won't complain about the blog you keep so I can invest a bit less in hunting down the few morsels of Ham goodness while pretending to love my Project Manager duties.

    1. Sorry I mixed you up with the other anon. You could always end with pseudonym in the text/comment field. Doesn't mean that someone else couldn't duplicate it, but most won't take the effort.

      My wife has been working for 20 years as well. She's got a Masters, too. I don't think she wants to quit anytime soon. (A lottery jackpot might be the exception.)