Overqualified

I still remember the first job I applied for after graduating. Earlier in my travels, I had met some Korean girls when staying at a hostel, and they said that one of the jobs that’s pretty easy to pick up while travelling is cleaning hotels. It’s a pretty simple job, you just pop in some headphones, make the bed, wipe down things and tidy up. Don’t need to deal with people, and as long as you clean as many rooms per hour or whatever as you’re supposed to, everything is OK. Oh, and as long as you don’t steal stuff. So when it came time to apply for jobs, I saw that one and thought, why not? I’m more than qualified to meet the criteria, as I had a two university degrees. Who wouldn’t hire me? I thought it would be a nice job to compliment my casino work, until I built up enough confidence to get a job as a programmer.

Well, as it turns out, they wouldn’t hire me. I got back a generic looking email saying that there were a lot of applicants and I didn’t make the cut, which made me feel about 2cm tall. I couldn’t understand it. I met all of their criteria, I had good references, I don’t have a criminal record. Why didn’t they want me?

Perhaps the answer is that I’m overqualified. Like Robert Jordan found out when he was refused an interview with the police department because score on a pre-employment exam was too high. Why would any company want to hire someone who looks to be on the way out in the next year or so, as it costs money to hire and train someone up?

I feel like it creates a bit of a sticky situation when someone loses their job and isn’t able to find another one in their industry. I read all these threads on /r/personalFinance with people telling the poster that they should just suck it up and get a job at McDonald’s because the economy is still bad, or whatever. But I don’t know if it’s as easy as that. When you’re 15, they’re probably happy to take, you because they don’t have to pay you an adult wage (I think my brother was paid $6 an hour at Red Rooster), you don’t have years of experience under your belt, so you’re still able to be trained. I get the feeling that if I were to apply for a retail job now, I might not make it. Though I have to say, that’s probably one of the benefits of working at the casino – they can only have adults on the gaming floor, so they’re not going to be hiring people just to be able to pay them below minimum wage!

I remember my parents not wanting me to get a job, my mum just wanted me to focus on my studies. I didn’t think uni would be that hard, and I wanted to get a start on my independence. I also applied for Red Rooster, but I didn’t get that one. So many part time job applications led to nothing until I finally got a job as a service cashier at Woolworths. I feel like I learned a lot working in retail – things I would never have learned at uni. How to deal with customer issues, how to diffuse arguments, how to stand there doing a repetitive task over and over and over, and how to entertain yourself during long shifts. OK, so I can see why they don’t want overqualified people, but I was overqualified for working at the supermarket, and yet I managed to last five years. I don’t think there were any major issues with my work, and it was a good job, at least I thought so.

Though I have to admit, that maybe I would have done a lot better at uni if I didn’t have a job. But it’s unlikely. It’s more likely that I would have just played more WoW. Anyway, all of this was to cheer myself up a little. I have been thinking about applying for the police force now that I can meet the minimum fitness requirements, but if I got turned down by the police, it would be soul crushing. Not because I think the job is below me, but because it’s something that I’ve wanted to do for so long. I told myself that it wasn’t possible earlier because I wasn’t fit enough, but now that I am, I really have no excuses. I still don’t think I’m ready to do it though. Maybe in a few years. Char says I’m a chicken because I don’t like to put myself out there, and I know that she’s right, but at the same time, it’s really tough to put your heart on the line when you feel like the odds are stacked against you.

Regardless of whether I’m intellectually overqualified or not, I should be happy that I currently have a job where I’m being treated well, and given things that intellectually stimulate me. What more can you ask for?

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