6 Signs You’re Too Smart and Overqualified for Your Job

Have you reached the point where Sunday afternoons are less fun because you suddenly realize that your weekend is ending and in a matter of hours, you’ll be back at work? When you do get to work, are you looking at the clock too much? Do you just plain feel overqualified for the job you have? If so, those are some warning signs that it might be time to move on from the job you have now and get something better.

If you’re in a job that underutilizes your talents and skills, your potential is wasted. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Millennial just starting out, a Gen-X’er in the prime of your career, or a Baby Boomer realizing that it won’t be THAT long before retirement is here. No one wants to waste years of their lives for nothing but a paycheck.

And yet, in an article for Brazen Life, writer Jessica Stillman, reveals that a recent survey showed that 62 percent of workers felt that their skills made them overqualified for their jobs. Part of that, undoubtedly, is a result of the recent Depression Era-like financial crisis that caused a deep pool of smart and qualified unemployed professionals to take jobs they were clearly overqualified for because … well … bills and mortgages needed to be paid.

The Millennials coming out of college (likely burdened with big college debts), had it worst. Not only were they looking for work, but they were looking for their first career-type of job and hiring managers could afford to be picky given the huge talent pool that was available. In another survey, 35 percent of the Millennial respondents say their first jobs out of school didn’t even require a college degree.

Of course, having a college education doesn’t necessarily make a candidate more intelligent than people without degrees. Anyone can be too smart for their job, whether they’re overqualified or just stuck in the wrong role, field, or organization.

Here are some signs that it’s probably time to move on to something more challenging soon:

You’re not learning anything

Generally, your job should always be an opportunity for learning and growth, whether you’re unhappy in it or not. But if you’ve hit a plateau, it’s time to move up in your organization … or out. If you’re increasingly bored, sluggish, or totally unmotivated at work, those are red flags that you’re not stimulated mentally.

Yawnnnnnnnnn … 

Boredom is the #1 indicator that you’re not being intellectually stimulated at work. If you’re buying those little energy drinks by the dozen, or getting a sugar high at lunch just to stay awake in the afternoon, you’re in the wrong place. However, needing to consume a large ice cream sundae every day at 3:30 isn’t the only sign of boredom. If you’re constantly taking on other tasks, or helping out on projects just to give yourself a change of pace, that’s another sign you need more mental stimulation out of your job.

You get the job done with partial effort 

Remember that kid in school that always finished the math test 10 minutes before everyone else and never missed a question? Yeah, that kid ended up at M.I.T. at the age of 17. In the same vein, tasks that don’t stump you, but trip up everyone else, is a sign you’re too smart for your job. If it happens consistently, you’re overqualified. You can turn it into a positive by using your superior skills as the grounds for a promotion. Demonstrate that you excel in your role, and take on projects of higher value and responsibility.

You’re lapping your co-workers when it comes to the rat race

If your coworkers can’t keep up when you explain a complex idea, or are opposed to reworking the way things have “always been done,” it might be a sign that they’re not intellectually challenging you. Even if they’re friendly and hard-working, it won’t better you to stay in a position that doesn’t push you. You don’t improve your game by playing with people a level or two below your league.

Your boss lacks the tools or vision to be an asset to you

You can’t grow as an individual, or as a member of the organization, working for a boss who has no idea what a vision is or where to get one. Your boss should be someone you can learn from and bounce ideas off of. If they don’t have a plan for how to grow the department, or even further their own career, it’s a sign there’s not much they can offer you. In addition, if you find yourself managing your boss and fixing mistakes in his or her work, and thinking, “Oh, I could soooooo do that job better” then moving on should be an easy decision.

You go silent when possible

The worst part of being overqualified is when you keep your mouth shut in meetings.  You’re afraid people already think of you as the office “know-it-all”. Or, they’ll accuse you of trying to grab the spotlight. Again, if your silence rarely happens, it may not mean much. But when it becomes a consistent pattern of behavior, that’s when it gets bad.

It’s a scary thing to think about leaving a job. It’s scarier to think about the red flag leaving can put on your resume. But the scariest thing of all is just sitting there and doing nothing to fulfill your potential. You’re a smart person … figure out what to do!

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