Tuesday, December 20, 2005

An "overqualified" rant

Like many (far too many, it seems) of my fellow admins, I am once again looking for work, preferably contract, and preferably in my town (or commutable therefrom). Searching on one of the local high tech job boards, I saw that a local hosting company--coincidentally the one that hosts my colocated servers--was looking for a reasonably experienced sys admin/CSR type person. The money wasn't great, but even a measly $12/hour puts more food on the table than the $0/hour I'm currently earning. Besides, I know a couple of guys there, so I thought it would be an interesting experience and change of pace. With all that in mind, I sent off my resume (not really expecting to get an offer, but you have to try, right?).

A day or two later, I go this reply:


I sincerely appreciate you sending us your resume, but regretfully must
inform you that you are much too overqualified for this position. I
have no doubts that your *many* years of experience would help build a
better department and company overall, however, this position is very
much entry-level system administration.

Here comes the rant: WTF is "overqualified"? If someone is willing to do a job that they are more than qualified for, at a lower rate of pay than they could command for a more senior position that more closely matches their skill level, why WOULDN'T an employer leap at the chance? Suppose you were in the market for a new car and only had, say, $10K to spend. If someone offered you a bona-fide deal on a $20K car for only $10K, would you say "Hey, what a deal!" and snap it up, or would you say "Sorry, that car is over qualified for my needs."?

Or suppose you needed a relatively minor surgery, one that can be performed by an intern. If all other things are equal (so it'll cost you the same), if the senior specialist offered to perform your surgey, would you go for it, or would you say "Sorry, you're overqualified for this simple surgery. Please ask the intern to do it."?

One of the usual excuses given is "well, we assume you'd want too much cash--more than we're prepared to pay for this position." Don't you think the guy applying for the job knows that, and has already taken that into account? By applying for the position, they're implicitly saying "I'm prepared to offer my skills at a lower rate, because other things make up for it". In my case, that would be getting to sleep in my own bed with my own family, and helping to pay down our debts.

Another excuse is "you'll just get bored and leave, so we'll have to replace you." Well, duh! This is the high tech industry people! Most IT peeps stay only a short time and move on anyway--it's the nature of the geek. Given that people are bound to move on and need to be replaced anyway, isn't it better to hire the best person available for that time period? If nothing else, you're paying low end wages, yet getting high end skills and experience.

Maybe I should start lying about my experience--understate it. "Yeah, I know I look like I'm in my late 30's, but really, I'm only 25 and have only a couple of years of post-education experience". Nah, that would compromise my integrity, and I have to live with myself. The best thing to do is get cracking on implementing some business ideas I have, then I can be self-sufficient and *I'll* be in the hiring seat. And I'll tell you now: there'll be no such thing as being "overqualified" in my company...

Monday, December 05, 2005

Today's UserFriendly

I almost pissed myself laughing at today's User Friendly comic strip. It helps if you know who Sid (the old geezer with the new webcam), Pearl, and Pitr are, of course... :-)