Overqualified: Higher Education Can Prevent You From Getting A Job?

Job InterviewWe had a gentleman recently tell us an interesting story… Turns out he has an Engineering degree and a decent amount of Engineering experience. The company he (Let’s call him Tom) used to work for closed its doors, and he was evaluating his options, since Electrical Engineers do not have a very difficult time finding work. While his wife was still working, and his kids where in a local school, he figured he would try to get into a few local or at least nearby locations first. (These places were not currently hiring, but Tom new one of them was in the middle of an expansion, and he would rather wait a few months than move his whole family.)

In the meantime, he had an interest in cars and figured, “Why not try my hand at car sales?” He knew the brand inside and out, had owned quite a few of them, and had even sold a few cars to friends as private sales. Tom dressed up and went in, filled out an application, put his resume with it, and awaited a possible call. Two days went by, and the dealership actually called and scheduled an interview with him. Tom figured this will be a great temporary gig, until an Engineering position nearby opens up… Don’t have to move, and my wife doesn’t have to bring in all of the money. (There were plenty of job opportunities available, but they required him to move.)

Tom went in for the interview dressed professionally, and showed a true interest in selling cars. Small talk went perfectly and the interviewer obviously felt as if he could work with Tom very easily… Things; however, took a turn towards the end of the interview.


The Truth Comes Out…

The interviewer noticed that Tom not only had leadership experience from being a non-commissioned officer in the Army (And a Veteran for that matter), but he also had a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering Science, a Pre-Med Degree (Could have gone to med-school, but settled with his Engineering Degree when he met his wife), Automated Control System development, coding experience, spoke 3 languages, and list went on…

The problem here, which most people don’t see and don’t even think about, until it happens, is Tom was insanely overqualified for the job. He could have designed and programmed the automated robots that build the cars; instead, he was there to sell them.

You might ask, “Why wouldn’t they just hire him anyway? He is obviously a very professional and intelligent individual.” Well, that may be all well and dandy, but the fact of the matter is the employer does not want to waste his or her time training someone, who is going to bail as soon as something better comes along. In the case of Tom, a lot of other, much better, opportunities could come along.


The Bottom Line

You do not necessarily have to mention all of your experience or education on an application in all cases. In most cases, all that matters is that what you have put down is accurate. It’s difficult to know where to draw the line, but typically you only want to put down experience and education, which is actually required for the job. (If it isn’t relevant, try to leave it out… This requires tailoring your resume for each application.)

Everyone wants to brag about their accomplishments as much as possible on their resume, because let’s face it; it’s a baseball card about you… You’re the star and you want to show your value. All we are trying to say is that experience and accomplishments, which do not apply to the job you are applying for, can hurt your chances.

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