I've worked as a police officer, a full-time adult educator and coach, and a regional manager for retail companies with, at times, responsibility for a territory comprising half of the geographical area of the second largest country on the planet. I've been around and served my time. My gorgeous wife (she really is) has worked as a nurse, a medical team leader and manager with specialization in developmental disabilities and owned her won very successful company (which she sold in order to come and be with me in Canada - I told you she was gorgeous!).
I'm going to go out on a limb here and accept some of the complimentary stuff I've heard over the years and say that (there is no question in her case, obviously) we are both intelligent, highly competent and multi-skilled people. This, however, seems to constitute a major problem.
Over the last few years, from the time when we got back in touch with one another after 22 years of silence (with stunning coincidence, around the time that my first marriage had impaled itself upon the rocks of 'Itsover') we have made a series of decisions which have running through them a theme of 'This isn't a rehearsal'. Consequently, while remaining mindful of our parental responsibilities, we've withdrawn somewhat from the 'must have more things' way of life, the 'must work all the hours possible to make as much money as possible' approach to a work/life balance, and the 'must have the best job I can possibly get' approach as part of the whole picture. We have deliberately tried to down-scale our spending, our debts and our lives relating to 'stuff'. It's a way of living that stops somewhat short of self-sufficiency, but leaning more heavily each year upon reduced dependency upon other people and corporations.
We don't want to be reclusive hermits, but we wish to live our lives our own way rather than according to the 'shoulds' and 'musts' of our brutal, capitalist society. If that sounds politically motivated; it isn't. If it sounds slightly left-leaning to you; get over it, it's our life.
Against this background, we are neither activists or outspoken advocates; we just know what we prefer. We're happy to pay our taxes and all that - that's reality - and we're not trying to drop out of society, just use it appropriately. With that as a background, seeking employment is still very much part of life.
But there's a big problem for us both. Having taken a voluntary - and much-needed - sabbatical, I've hit a wall. I can't get past the paper-sift stage of applying for jobs for which I am eminently suited. My wife finds herself - skilled up to her eyeballs - in the same position. Only yesterday she was politely informed that she was over-qualified for a position, and it's a refrain that we have both been subjected to before today, as well as both being told that we 'intimidate' managers by virtue of our life skills and experience.
Check this out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overqualification
The idea of 'over-qualified' bemuses me. Mostly, I think the term is bullshit. That's 'Bull', followed closely by the emphasis upon 'Shit'. It's a bullshit term to cover up the hiring manager's fear of the person applying for the job, clear and simple. The fear of what, though? I can only conclude that this term hides the fear of being usurped, undermined; basically an assumption that the candidate has an ulterior motive. In other words, it's an outrageous assumption to make about a candidate who is , by the very use of the word, eminently qualified for the position.
In my opinion, as a reason for not employing someone (if you're going to use it, then that's the reason you have to stick to), it makes no sense and is entirely prejudiced in nature. A person using this excuse is unworthy of their own position and should not be making hiring decisions. Furthermore, I would say that such a person knows that they're less than competent, and feel very insecure about hiring someone who may be smarter than they are! If I apply for a job, after all, I want THAT job, and that's all that the hiring personnel should be allowed to consider; not assume that there is another ulterior career plan that might not fall into line with what they think is proper.
I remember hiring a young man to work under my supervision in one of the retail companies I was employed by. He was smart, knowledgeable about the systems he was going to work with (far more so than I) and had a great work ethic. He was, in effect, over-qualified for the position, and was taking a sideways step rather than an upward one that he had been offered. I hired him with some excitement, because it was obvious to me that he was going to be a great asset to the department, and would be an ideal candidate to succeed me when the time was right. It was the professional thing to do, the right thing to do, the ethical thing to do.
I understand why a person may not choose to hire someone because they are under-qualified (which - let's face it, only means Unqualified) - that makes basic sense. The term 'over-qualified' actually, when you think for a second about it, means 'qualified'. If 'over-qualified' was a real thing; if it made any sense at all, and if you think about it logically, the only people who would ever be employable would be those who EXACTLY meet the prerequisites of the job description for which they apply. Anyone exceeding those prerequisites to the tiniest degree is otherwise - surely - OVER-qualified...It's nonsense, of course. Like I said, it's a bullshit term; it means nothing.
Unfortunately, however, it's out there, it's even accepted (albeit tacitly) as some kind of justifiable reason for not employing an otherwise awesome applicant. It means that intelligent, hard-working, highly experienced and professional people have a very narrow band of roles to which they can apply (even if they wanted to) with any hope of success, and it means that companies are missing out on employing the very best kind of employee. My wife and I are looking for simple jobs that we know we would do well, and to which we would bring value. There are hundreds of them out there, but it seems that it's very easy to be threatening to the people who make the decisions to even speak to us.
What a different world it would be if more people in positions to exercise it, possessed professionalism and integrity...