Tuesday, July 09, 2013

The Perils of Being Overqualified

Paul Campos notes that employers are perhaps more diligent than ever in weeding out overqualified candidates:
I see this all the time in the legal world: people find that getting a JD actually hurts their job prospects, not just because they can’t get jobs as lawyers (48% of the national class of 2012 didn’t have real legal jobs nine months after graduation), but because, despite self-serving claims of legal academic administrators and faculty that a law degree is “versatile,” most non-legal employers consider a law degree either a negative or a flat disqualification for a job candidate. (Perhaps the most stark example of this is provided by paralegals who quit good jobs to go to law school, then discover that employers won’t hire people with JDs to do paralegal work).
The first time I heard about a candidate being rejected as overqualified was back in 1979, in the film Kramer vs. Kramer. I was young enough at the time to be puzzled by the idea, although I came to appreciate why employers would hesitate before hiring an employee they thought might jump ship as soon as something better came along.

But the J.D. problem isn't just one of overqualification - most employers outside of the field of law (or the music industry) don't see the J.D. as a qualification. So you're both overqualified, in that you have a graduate degree that in the view of many should result in your easily earning a six figure income, but underqualified, in that your degree is seen as having absolutely nothing to do with a position outside of the field of law. When you're trying to explain and argue how your degree relates to the job for which you're applying, the odds of getting the job will typically hover between "slim" and "none".

1 comment:

  1. Some paralegals in big firms made more money than I did as a lawyer and they worked better hours. I can't imagine going through all of that only to find out that you will possibly end up worse off. And certainly more expendable as lawyers are a dime a dozen!
    It's still a Doctor of Law though so some community colleges will treat it as such (mine did when I taught there) and it qualified me to teach Political Science. But that's about it.


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