Jobs & Jobs Hunting

I Work At A Job I’m Overqualified For And Here’s Why

This is a common scenario for graduates and those who were unemployed for a while, as the job market becomes more and more competitive. You may have spent years at University but lack real-world experience, or maybe you were made redundant and struggled to get back into the type of work you did before. Now that I have completed my degree, people often ask me why I work in a job that I’m overqualified for and when I’m going to get a “proper job”. While applying for a job with a lower salary can put some people off and baffle employers when they look at your CV, there is a lot to be said for working in such a job. For anyone who is wondering about the benefits of a more modest role, I work at a job I’m overqualified for and here’s why…

1. To gain experience

You could have all the qualifications in the world, but if you lack relevant experience in the sector you want to work in, you’ll struggle to find a job. From my experience, getting a part-time job during University is a good way to gain transferable skills, however, it does not necessarily prepare you for a graduate career immediately after finishing your degree. Similarly, if you want to pursue a career that you’ve never done before, you’ll need to gain experience.

For instance, you may need to advance your skill set to facilitate a career change or you may need to learn something new to find a different job after redundancy. For me, working in a retail job I’m over-qualified for has improved my customer service skills and given me experience in cash handling and admin tasks.  I am also doing an unpaid writing internship in my spare time to gain experience more relevant to my degree. Although I could pursue a graduate career if I wanted, working at a job that I’m overqualified for has boosted my confidence and given me vital experience to further my career when I’m ready!

2. To get your foot in the door

Similarly, if you’ve never worked in a particular sector before or you’re unemployed and looking for work, you may need to accept a lower position than you’re overqualified for in order to get your foot in the door. Entry-level positions are useful for graduates, as they offer on-the-job training to help you become more knowledgeable and competent. If you’re unemployed, starting at the bottom may be your best option and an added bonus of working in a job you’re overqualified for, is that you should excel in the role.

Once you have proven your ability, you can always ask for more responsibility, which will enable you to prove your worth and you may get the chance of a promotion once you’ve been there a while. Something I’ve realized about working at a job I’m overqualified for, is that it is important for senior members of staff to know how the company works at all levels, so working your way up from the bottom can actually be a good thing, because if you start at the top you may have little idea how things work beneath you. Being willing to start at the bottom also shows you have a positive attitude and that you’re not afraid to put in the graft for what you want!

3. To change career

If you hate your job and want a career change or you’ve changed your mind about the career path you want to take since starting Uni, choosing to work at a job you’re overqualified for is a good way to gain the new skill set you need. Your previous experience and qualifications may no longer be relevant for what you want to do now and you may have to start over by taking on an entry-level role.

Maybe you’ve gone as far as you can in your current position or have realized the “corporate world” isn’t for you and you want to do something more creative. I personally work at a job I’m overqualified for, with no relevance to my degree, because I find it rewarding and an all-consuming graduate career is not what I’m looking for right now. Whatever you’re passionate about, if you decide to go for it, you should be prepared to work hard from the bottom up and be aware that you will probably have to take a pay cut (provided its feasible/ reasonable) in the first instance. If you want something enough you’ll make it work! This is one of the reasons I work at a job I’m overqualified for!

4. To get a better work-life balance

If you’ve worked in a stressful, time-consuming position with a lot of responsibility, there is nothing wrong with wanting to take a step back. For instance, many teachers are leaving the career due to unsustainable working conditions and long hours. Whether you’ve been working in a managerial role that just isn’t for you, want a break from the pressure of full-time study or your priorities have changed, you may want to find a job with better work-life balance. However, many high-level jobs with the best salaries have unsociable working hours and require you to take work home with you.

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If you want something more manageable and flexible around your schedule, you may need to look for a lower-level job even if you’re over-qualified for it. While some people see taking a position you’re overqualified for as a negative thing, the benefits of achieving a better work-life balance are often worth it. Your health and wellbeing will improve, you’ll be more productive and you will stop missing out on the important things in life. You’ll also enjoy your job more due to the freedom it brings! For me, staying in part-time work rather than pursuing the first graduate job I came across, has given me time to complete an internship relevant to my future career goals!

5. You enjoy it!

What better reason to work in a job I’m overqualified for? While some people may presume that you’re “stuck” in your current position or that you should be doing something else, if you enjoy your job and it allows you to lead the lifestyle you want, stay put! If you’re a graduate, you’ll likely have considered all the ‘sensible’ jobs, but a high-flying career isn’t for everyone and not all people are concerned with having the best salary possible.

I currently work at a job I’m overqualified for, because training to be a teacher or working as a salesperson straight after graduation didn’t appeal to me. There is a lot to be said for finding a job that doesn’t make you dread getting up on a morning and that you find rewarding regardless of monetary value! It could be as simple as working with a great bunch of people who make going to work enjoyable! Whatever your reason for working at a job you’re overqualified for, just make sure you’re doing something worthwhile and that you actually like. Life is too short to be miserable!

These are just five of the reasons why I work at a job I’m overqualified for. Have you had a similar experience or can you think of any other benefits of doing so? Leave them in the comments below…
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