Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Does "overqualified" equal "too old?"

Many people over 50 have experienced being told that they are "overqualified" for a job. On the face of it this is ridiculous. If you have more skills and experience than they originally envisaged, then they should be over the moon that they have you as a candidate - right? If you are rejected then it is clearly age discrimination - right?

It is not so simple. In many cases, managers feel insecure about supervising someone who may be older or better qualified than they are even though perhaps their subordinate does not want their job. In other cases, hiring managers may feel that the person is only taking the job as a temporary step and will move on. In fact, older people tend to stay longer than younger ones. A few years ago, when pension plans were defined benefit, it cost more to hire an older person. so there are other reasons that age alone, even though there is a growing shortage of skilled and experienced people, is not the reason for turning someone down.

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