5 Ways to Make A Job You’re Overqualified for Worthwhile

By | October 16, 2015

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Job Prospects for GraduatesWhen somebody tells you that you’re overqualified, it almost sounds like a compliment. The implication is that you’re too smart and skilled for your existing job. However, the reality of the situation is much more insidious. It means you’re working in a job that isn’t challenging or engaging. You’re probably “checked out” much of the time, and frequently feeling discouraged, resentful and underutilized. However, the situation doesn’t have to be so bleak. This job may not be your dream job, but a savvy worker will work hard to turn it into a stepping stone for the next phase of their career. Let’s look at a few ways to make the best of a less than ideal situation.

1. Ask for More Responsibility. Approach your supervisor and request additional duties or responsibilities. You might be pleasantly surprised at the types of projects management sends your way. Push for projects that allow you to tackle new challenges, develop new skill sets, and network with other people at the company who can help you further your career – or at least provide a valuable reference.

2. Help out your co-workers. Let’s say you asked for additional responsibilities, but management turned you down.  Don’t throw in the towel yet! Look around you to see if any of your co-workers need help. While you might be underutilized, there is probably somebody else in your office who is completely overworked. Offer to help them out! You’ll gain valuable experience, a reputation as a team player, and again – another valuable reference from a colleague.

3. Expand your professional network. Here’s the thing about careers. You never know who’s going to help you down the road. It might be the founder of your company, or it might be the secretary. Lay the foundation for future relationships with everybody in the office. Wrangle your way into meetings and company events so you can get to know clients and co-workers. Bring a coffee over to a colleague’s desk, or ask them out to lunch. Whatever you do, just don’t hide behind your desk. It’s easy to disappear into the fabric of a company, but it will get you exactly nowhere.

4. Keep your chin up. There really are no small jobs, only small people. Even the most mundane task is important to the successful operation of a business, and your ability to do it well is valuable. Remember that when you’re feeling small, and try to find your smile. If you’re doing a good job with a positive attitude, your employer likely notices and appreciates that immensely. Ditto for your co-workers.

5. Organize Your Exit. You’ve been working, networking, and exercising that smile. However, there may be a point in time where it becomes clear that this job is going nowhere. Don’t quit. Sit tight, get your work done, and organize yourself for your next job opportunity. Create documents that detail exactly what needs to be done for the next person stepping into your position, and of course – get that resume ready. Hopefully, the experience and goodwill you created in this job will greatly benefit you as you move onto the next position.