Thursday, August 27, 2009

Over Qualified for the Job!

by Randy Cox
Twenty years ago, America had a recession. I remember that our art business was down and jobs in the electrical trade were few. There were so many sad faces that showed up at each single electrician job offer that I began to look to other areas for a possible job. Everything that I could think of that an electrician might be able to do, other construction people thought the same way. When a job opening happened, hundreds of construction workers applied for them. As I picked up some supplies from an art wholesale company for a rare order, I was complaining to a friend of mine filling my order about how employers wouldn't hire me because I was so over-qualified. He told me that years before he had been a high paid engineer with several degrees. He said the electronics industry had a shake out and he hit the ground hard. He said everywhere he went they told him he was over-qualified. Eventually, his unemployment insurance ran out and he was desperate for any kind of job. He applied for them all but as soon as they read his application they would turn him away as "over-qualified." One day he applied for a job as a warehouseman. The hours were long and the pay was weak. As usual, the guy who interviewed him slid his application back toward him, shaking his head. "You are way over-qualified for this position. You would hate it, and you wouldn't last long enough for us to train you. I'm sure you'll find something better!" So as was the pattern, my friend left the building. As he turned the key to his ignition, anger overwhelmed him. "I turned off my engine and stomped back into that building to give that guy a piece of my mind," he said. He confronted the interviewer. "Listen!" he said. "I've got two degrees and I've managed departments ten times larger than this whole outfit. I can handle any work you've got and probably do it better than anyone you've ever had working for you. I want this job. I need this job. I don't care how long the hours or how little it pays!" The man again assured him. "You'd hate it here! Even if you stayed for a little while, a better offer would come along and you'd be gone!" "So what?" my friend demanded. "If this job is as bad as you say, you must have a terrible turnover rate anyway." "That's what I've been trying to explain to you," the prospective employer said. "You wouldn't last; no one ever does. These guys come and go! You are way over-qualified!" "I want this job!" my friend demanded. "I can do it! There is no excuse for not giving me this job. Even if I leave after a few weeks, that's probably longer than the next guy will last. I'll be here on time every day until I get that offer you tell me is coming. Until then, you'll get the best worker you've ever had." The employer couldn't talk him out of it. He gave him the job. My friend was the best person he ever had in that position. He stayed 13 years; then his employer retired. My friend bought him out and now he is president and major shareholder in the company he was once too over-qualified to work for. There is no such thing as over-qualified. People that hear those words need to present their case better. That could be exactly the right job for them! There is no such thing as over-qualification.