I hate the word “overqualified.” It has this nasty connotation because if someone has a depth of work experience, they can’t fit into a role. They have too many years of experience, too much seniority or too high-level of a title to do the job, at least that’s the vibe I get when someone tells me a candidate is overqualified.
Shouldn’t the reverse be true?
Shouldn’t it be the deeper and more robust the experience, the more likely an “overqualified” candidate could easily slide into a role? Logically, wouldn’t you think someone who knows their profession really well, and has demonstrated success, would be an asset? In my theory, you don’t need to train them, to say, for example, to be an Accountant. They can do the accounting, they may even have a CPA. What they need to learn is your company/department/team.
In my current role, I support “temp” staffing at my employer. I live for the overqualified. They make amazing temporary employees– AKA gig workers. And the gig life? It’s really evolved over the past several decades. It’s not just for people fresh out of school or returning to the workforce. It’s a really robust industry employing more than 15 million people each year according to the American Staffing Association.
What do you need to think about if you’re going to join the gig life? A lot. There is a lot to think about. It’s not for everyone. It’s got some risk. If you’re thinking it’s time for you to consider the temp life, and leap into the gig economy, think about these key issues you may face:
- What kind of temp options does an employer offer? Traditionally, agencies are king. So if you’re going that route, find a good agency. One that will not only help you get placed the first time but the second and third. Find one that offers benefits. Can you be W2? Sweet. Will you get corporate benes? Can you convert to FTE eventually? All things to know. You might be going the 1099 route…know what that means. Make sure your role really adheres to the IRS guidelines, and remember, you are filing your taxes.
- How much risk can you handle? This is a really important question. Temporary assignments are just that, temporary. Normally with a foreseeable beginning and end, but sometimes they end early. What is your plan for navigating to a new assignment? Do you have a financial cushion for 30/60/90 days?
- Can you network? Really successful temps build a network of people and they call them in when the next assignment begins. They work job boards and agencies. It’s incumbent on them to land the next gig.
- What is in it for you? Will you be able to leverage your experience in a new way? Are you working for one of your “bucket list” organizations? Are you making new networking connections that can further your career? What’s the “why” for you to take on a temp role?
- Do you get benefits? And if you don’t, what’s the plan? You have to take care of you, so having some kind of benefits program in place is important.
- Can you leverage the opportunities to either pivot your career or deepen your experience? If you’ve always been in the hospitality industry, can an assignment in manufacturing help you?
I’m positive someone notable once said without risks there are no rewards. The gig life is full of risks, but in many ways can offer immense rewards, particularly for the overqualified as they seize the opportunity to drive their own career and not be limited by their experience.
Kelly is the Recruitment Manager for Westat, a leading social science research organization headquartered in Rockville, Maryland.