"In this morning's paper," says a note from a female reader, "you have an item about a paving company's 'help wanted' ad. There is humor in it, I suppose, because the qualifications demanded by the employer are so minimal.
"My own story is the opposite, and there is no humor in it for me. I have an excellent education, but there are few job openings in my special field right now, so I have been applying for jobs that require nothing more than average intelligence. I'd rather work at a dull, unattractive job than be unemployed.But nobody will have me.
"'Sorry. You're overqualified for what we have open,' they tell me. I have heard the sentence so often I could scream.
"If the owners of a little mom-and-pop store advertise for a stock boy, I suppose they could justify turning down an applicant with a college degree. The 'overqualified' applicant would probably resign as soon as he could find a better job, so the store would have to start looking for another stock boy.
"However, the firms that have been turning me down (and others like me, I'm sure) have all been large companies. They all need, and employ, people with a variety of talents. It seems to me that it is stupid of them to turn down any person merely because that applicant's skills, education or intelligence are greater than the requirements of the currently advertised job.
They ought to be delighted at the opportunity to get a well qualified person into their organization, in any capacity. Instead they shun the well qualified applicant.
"As one who is seeking employment, possibly I am prejudiced in my view. But I think if I were sitting on the other side of the desk, if I were an owner or a manager and I were interviewing an overqualified applicant, I would say: 'If you want the job, it's yours. However, I want you to know that there are better jobs to be had in this organization, and you seem to me to be the kind of person who could fill some of them. Show us what you can do in this low-level job, and we'll keep our eye on you to see if you can help us at a higher level.' Mr. Gold, wouldn't it seem to you that this would be a more intelligent approach than turning down applicants who have the ability to do better than routine work?"
Yes, I think you have stated the case very well. Many a company is now headed by somebody who began at the very bottom and was - obviously - overqualified to remain at the bottom. One of these days, your luck will turn. When it does, I hope the job you get will be with a firm that is intelligent enough to appreciate intelligence - and find room for it.