Paradoxically, it has become more difficult finding a job when you have higher studies. A master’s degree can be a hindrance rather than a quality. And this is because employers fear that your education will make you demand higher pay or that it will make you sufficiently recruitable for you to walk away on him when he most needs you. The phenomenon is globally spread and nobody pretends anymore not to notice it.


All you have to do is google ‘overqualified’ and you’ll find lots of articles and studies on the topic. Human resources specialists try to convince managers who seek employees that they have no reason at all to exclude those with an MBA. And they list all the possible reasons: that they adapt more quickly to a new work place, that they are more easily managed because they themselves possess management skills, that they have a higher output because they know what high-rate output is, that they rapidly acquire the specific knowledge needed for that position and that they can train others in to acquire it as well.


How to promote you own competency


So, the experts go to some lengths to explain why a person with superior education deserves a chance. Then, what can the degree holder do to obtain what another, who has not been so concerned about an academic education, already has?

‘Fear of overqualification is generally not manifested that directly, but there are instances in which the real reason for turning down a candidate is this fear. The main means of counteracting it is finding previous concrete examples when you, the candidate demonstrated flexibility and a strong focus on results, increasing revenues because of these two qualities, rather than because of the existence of your degree,’ says Madalina Uceanu, managing partner at Career Advisor. ‘In regard to flexibility, as a candidate, you should ideally be capable of proving that it is not the title you hold which is relevant, but the level of autonomy and the rate of results you can achieve,’ further states Uceanu. The global crisis that started in 2008 actually favoured degree holders, though generally they found rather more poorly-paid jobs.      


‘In the last five years, because the crisis has led to reorganizing and costs’ cuts in many industries, employers have identified the opportunity of hiring very well prepared professionals and with growth potential in inferior positions and, implicitly, with lower wages,’ says Mihaela Feodorof, managing partner at Yourway Life&Career Counseling. ‘I believe that, in many situations, to be overqualified was trendy, something that the employee could use as leverage, but which never amounted to an increase in wages. I know from my experience as a consultant that, in any company, no matter how qualified an employee is, if he cannot make his contribution to the company’s success through sheer competency, degrees and certificates mean nothing,’ states Feodorov. She makes the remark that these persons often shape their personal objectives according to their education: a top-tier position, of top or executive manager or country manager.     

‘Those that find themselves in the wrong context either have insufficient information available to them and, thus, unreasonable expectations, or do not manage to adapt to the hiring requirements,’ explains the Yourway representative.



The most vulnerable


‘The overqualification phenomenon is pretty widely found among potential candidates, without having a particular industry in mind. A person who has acquired a set of high skills and abilities can apply those to different fields, with results which will always be reckoned by the employer. I would rather identify the phenomenon to plague employees between 35 and 50 years old, who have previously held important positions.’ 

Mihaela Feodorof, Yourway Life&Career Counseling