The plight of overqualified job-seekers is coming under focus as the latest
hardship in this lingering recession. Companies typically
avoid hiring overqualified workers because they tend to be unhappy with
the job and frequently quit. But with the high unemployment rate and
brutal job market, many highly qualified workers have little choice but
to apply for jobs below their education and skill level. This has
created a unique pool of struggling job-seekers who are doomed,
paradoxically, by their high qualifications.
- Companies Win...Maybe The New York Times' Michael Luo reports, "The phenomenon was probably
inevitable in a labor market in which job
seekers outnumber openings five to one. Employers are seizing the
opportunity to stock up on discounted talent, despite the obvious risks
that the new hires will become dissatisfied and leave." But
overqualified hires quit more often, which is costly for companies who have to replace them.
- Creates Generation of Unskilled Workers The Atlantic's Daniel Indiviglio explains
that overqualified applicants poach jobs that would otherwise go to
entry-level workers, who as a result are robbed of much-needed
experience and resume boosting. "It will stunt their career development.
[...] That leaves workers with shorter experience or less-developed
skills out of the work force for an extended period of time."
Overqualified Hires Work Harder? Despite research showing they're
less satisfied with their job, the New York Times' Michael Luo suggests
overqualified workers could still be productive workers. "An interesting
open question is how overqualification affects job performance. This is
much more of a gray area, where the research actually leans toward
supporting the hiring of overqualified candidates." But this requires
special management. "If workers are given autonomy and made to feel
valued and respected and that they can actually have an impact, many of
those negative consequences that usually cause companies to steer away
from hiring overqualified workers can be mitigated."
Show Recruiting Overqualified Workers Donald Trump's reality TV
show, The Apprentice, is planning next season's show to feature lawyers
who are overqualified for their current jobs, as well as other lawyers
who are similarly affect by the recession. Above The Law's Kashmir Hill quips, "If your
world has been rocked by the recession, maybe it’s time to seek out a
reality TV gig." If overqualified workers are now getting their own
season of The Apprentice, some of them, at least, are getting along fine.
Want to add to this story? Let us know in comments
or send an email to the author at
mfisher at theatlantic dot com.
You can share ideas for stories on the Open Wire.