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Overqualified for a job? You have higher chances of being under psychological strain

Perceived overqualification can be dangerous as it leads to negative emotions and mental strain, leading to overall poor psychological wellbeing.

sex and relationships Updated: Jul 12, 2017 08:49 IST
For overqualified employees, often the environment they work in leads to negative emotions.
For overqualified employees, often the environment they work in leads to negative emotions. (Shutterstock)

If you are an employee who perceives you are overqualified for your position, chances are you are unsatisfied with your job, uncommitted to your organisation and experience psychological strain, says a study.

Perceived overqualification occurs when employees are expecting a job that utilises their qualifications but do not find themselves in such a position, leaving them feeling essentially deprived.

“We invest effort at work and we expect rewards in return, such as esteem and career opportunities,” said Michael Harari, Assistant Professor at Florida Atlantic University in the US.

“And for an overqualified employee, that expectation has been violated. This is a stressful experience for employees, which leads to poor psychological wellbeing, such as negative emotions and psychological strain,” Harari added.

Perceived overqualification -- the belief that one has surplus skills compared to job requirements -- can have negative implications for employees and employers alike, according to the findings published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior.

The researchers carried out an analysis of perceived overqualification synthesising 25 years of research to clarify disparate and conflicting findings in the literature.

Employees who feel overqualified are also more likely to engage in deviant behaviours, Harari said.

This might range from coming in late or leaving early to theft or bullying co-workers.

Being overqualified for a job is not always a happy space to be in. (Shutterstock)

The more overqualified an employee feels, the more likely they are to engage in counterproductive behaviours that impair the effective functioning of organisations, Harari said.

Employees who were younger, overeducated and narcissistic tended to report higher levels of perceived overqualification, the findings showed.

“It seems to suggest that there is a need to take jobs below one’s skill level in order to gain entrance into the workforce,” Harari said.

“We do see that, as people get older, they are less likely to report overqualification,” Harari added.

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