IT Employment

When being overpaid and overqualified becomes a liability

Many companies are reluctant to hire overqualified people because they fear they won't be challenged enough to stay for the long-term. Here are some ways to get over this hump if you're overqualified.

You would think if you were very qualified in your line of work and pulled down a great salary, that looking for another job would be easy. After all, those facts show that you're recognized and appreciated at your current company, so why wouldn't another company jump at the chance to hire you?

I recently received emails from two TechRepublic members that demonstrate this is not necessarily true. The first email said:

I am getting a salary which is higher than the industry standards.

However, the job is not giving me professional and personal satisfaction.

When I apply, the HR executive is the first person to call me. When he or she asks my current salary, that person states that the salary is higher than their standards. However, they promise to get back to me after asking their technical manager. Then they never get back to me. This is really putting me off.

How should I handle this? What should I tell the HR executive?

The second email:

For the second time in a matter of months, I've been told that I'm overqualified for a job that I applied to. I don't understand why being overqualified would be a problem. Don't companies want to get the most bang for their buck, i.e., the most qualified person for the salary they're offering?

It sucks, but the fact is candidates with high salaries and too many qualifications are often daunting to hiring managers. Hiring managers worry that if they hire an overqualified candidate, he or she will grow bored with the job or unhappy with the salary and will leave the company in a few months, leaving them to repeat the time and cost of the hiring process. In their minds, you're thinking of their job as simply a way station until you find something better.

Also, some hiring managers can feel threatened if your qualifications are on a par with or are better than theirs. They may think your first line of business would be to get their job.

So how do the well-compensated and over-qualified get their feet in the doors?

Be honest.

Particularly in your cover letter, where you'll be introducing yourself for the first time, you should be able to explain why you're seeking a job for which you seem to be overqualified. Mention how the position you're applying for aligns with your longer-term career goals, offers you more work-life balance, or offers you a chance to do work that is more meaningful than what you are currently doing.

If it's a money issue, explain that even though you are currently pulling down a salary higher than the one offered, you are not fulfilled by your job duties. Say that you will willingly give up some compensation to do something that makes you want to come to work everyday.

Make it clear you're not a threat to the boss's position.

A lot of managers shy away from hiring folks who may be more qualified than they are. In their minds, you could be gunning for their job. Make it clear in your cover letter and in an interview that you understand the parameters of the position being offered, and that you wouldn't step out of it unless you were called upon to do so by the manager.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

93 comments
muzza2005
muzza2005

Look out for inane qualifications but zero/little experience to prove it, and hiring managers who regard paper quals as evidence of battle-hardened experience. And don't even start me on HR... most HR people are numpties who know as much about IT as a floral bar of soap.... a fragrant way to say they are clueless.

athayes
athayes

Then there's the age thing. If you've been around long to get the experience that makes you over-qualified then you have also become somewhat senior. In the US that means your insurance costs the insurer more - lots more. Everywhere it means that you will be PROFILED as elderly, slow, tired, etc. Honest Cover letters won't fix either of those things.

vigremrajesh
vigremrajesh

really a nice thing which I should also follow for changing job..thanks for clearing my inner doubts.......

ArnoldZiffle
ArnoldZiffle

For all of you being turned down for being over qualified, I have to ask, "How old are you?" Because I feel that I have clearly been discriminated against because of my almost white hair! In the last 6 months I have had 3 interviews for CONTRACTs in which I was told I was overqualified. Does that strike anyone else as odd? How can you be overqualified for a CONTRACT? If I agree that the rate is acceptable then what's the problem? On even had the audacity to suggest that if they needed new applications designed and written from scratch they would definitely want me. Right...

mrAverage
mrAverage

IF it were a perfect world you would not have a problem.....DUH!!!!!!! However, BTDT got lots of tee-shirts and I have 3 strikes: Old, Educated & made too much at one time or another: 1. Keep trying. Depending on the position your seeking it could take the better part of a year or sadly more. 2. NEVER EVER LIE......but if your resume reads like War & Peace FIX it. Customizing the resume to EACH position sought without giving ALL your details/history (keep them wanting more). 3. WELCOME TO BEING A SALES PERSON, YOUR NEW SECOND FULL TIME JOB???? When job/career shopping you are a PRODUCT. The new position is the CUSTOMER. Why do they want/need YOU? Regardless of your age, knowledge, or wealth. When the HR person sees you have the basic requirements covered (plus a little extra), they may setup a phone interview with you just to "kick the tires". BE SHARP, ALERT and BE PREPARED. If you pass the gate keeper your resume gets to their CUSTOMER possibly your future boss. FINALLY, when doing the phone interview be in a quiet place and only do the phone interview. Good luck

jbfuller
jbfuller

The Peter Principle is the principle that "in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence." It was formulated by Dr. Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull in their 1969 book The Peter Principle, a humorous treatise which also introduced the "salutary science of Hierarchiology", "inadvertently founded" by Peter. It holds that in a hierarchy, members are promoted so long as they work competently. Sooner or later they are promoted to a position at which they are no longer competent (their "level of incompetence"), and there they remain, being unable to earn further promotions. This principle can be modeled and has theoretical validity.[1] Peter's Corollary states that "in time, every post tends to be occupied by an employee who is incompetent to carry out his duties" and adds that "work is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached their level of incompetence". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Principle farcical, but at some level an answer to your questions...

Gumguy
Gumguy

What a coincidence as I just came out of an second interview for another job right now (already got an offer too) and find myself in exactly the same situation. I would consider myself a late starter in the IT field but still have some 10 years under my belt now. I am looking around again since my current job has become too bureaucratic and even though it pays well, the politics is killing my job satisfaction. With regards to earlier posts, if an IT manager is worried about his/her position being overtaken by a newer IT staff member, the business divisions that he/she reports to (since IT is overhead) seriously needs to re-evaluate that manager's role. In addition, I have seen on too many occasions where junior IT people get hired and are woefully pigeon holed to make the IT manager look good. Pretty sad but it is reality in some places. I know I am slightly overqualified for the position that I have applied for but the position more aligns with where I want to be in my IT career (family, more social time, etc.). Also, I cannot over emphasize the importance of having very good to excellent communication and presentation skills. You may be overqualified but if you can work well within any IT team and, more importantly, the various employer's business divisions you report to (both on the technical and social level), any half witted IT manager should be able to take advantage of this. On a side note, my offer is 90% of what I am currently making now but the reduction is offset with bonuses and time off. No brainer. New job, here I come.

darrahg
darrahg

Omit some qualifications. Everyone else will be doing what you recommend.

trank888
trank888

That is message you need get in their head. You are not a risk. Managers are hired to ensure business continuity, not business improvement (sadly). The reason for them to hire "idiots" and not you (overqualified). You still want that under qualified job? Then it all comes to soft skills, tell what managers want to hear, not how better you are. Avoid salary discussion (give range, return question by asking benefits,...) Do not talk about promotion or potential internal opportunities. Talk about how you are functionally qualified for day to day task. You are good doer, not innovator. K.

thorntech1
thorntech1

This is when you become a consultant and make even more money. Companies don't hire people that are overqualified - they bring in consultants.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

After being in the very same position many more times that I care to think about this all I can say is that I've never got any job that I've personally applied for because I wanted a [i]Sea Change.[/i] Not a problem when you are being approached or head hunted as people like to describe it but when you just want to get away from it all and be a no body in the pile without the added responsibility it just isn't going to happen. Only way I've ever managed to pull in a lower responsibility job is to move to a different related industry where I wasn't expected to know it all. They say that a change is as good as a Holiday and from my prospective at least I have always found it to be so. Just picking up the reins and doing something so completely different to the daily grind is all the break that I have ever needed. Probably why I don't know what a holiday is but I've found over the years that it's been sufficient to allow me to recharge my batteries. I should also add that everyone of those Jobs that I took has always resulted in at least 2 years employment in that position or industry at least where as the jobs that I was Head Hunted in have been relatively short where I've been poached to a different department, company or whatever within a year. ;) Col

Virgoan
Virgoan

"A lot of managers shy away from hiring folks who may be more qualified than they are. In their minds, you could be gunning for their job."....How true as for my case some years ago and therefore i still have to stayput in present company...arghhhhh!!!

Osiyo53
Osiyo53

At one time I spent 10 years in management, and by all methods of measuring it my performance was considered in the upper 3% of my peers. In short, I was very good. Had been fast tracked and promoted several times ahead of my peers. But, I wasn't just all that happy. In fact, I hated the work after a few years. I finally made a decision to step back into a hands-on technical position. I'm an engineer/tech at heart. Once the decision was made and I went to pursue that direction, I found it wasn't just all that easy to do. I lost track of how many times I was told I was over qualified. Or the number of times they didn't say that expressly, but the interviewer seemed puzzled why I was applying for a tech position when, as several pointed out, "You are qualified to do so much more ...". Yeah, sure ... maybe by the way THEY looked at things. To THEM ... upper management seemed like the better, more important and prestigious type of work. To me, it didn't. BTDT, did it well. But I LIKED a hands-on technical job better. Got more personal satisfaction from it. Would rather read a technical journal discussing some advanced tech subject than a budget spreadsheet any day. Etc. Then there were a few rejections where I knew, without the other person having to say it outright, that the problem was the guy I might end up working for was intimidated ... that I might be looking at taking over his job. I had one admit that openly. I just kept chugging away at it, the job hunt. Until I found myself in front of one guy, after having made it through his HR folks and etc. He was looking over my stuff and expressed the opinion that he didn't understand why I was looking for the offered position. Since, as he put it, I was not only over qualified for it, I was better qualified for his job than he was. I just took the straight approach. And told him I did not WANT his job, not then and probably not later. I wanted that darn TECHNICAL position. And wanted it bad. Yep, I understood it paid significantly less (quite a lot less) than I had been making. But my finances were in order, I could pay the bills with the new salary and still have enough left over for my simple needs (enough to buy bait and go fishing). None of my leisure activities and interests are expensive. And as far as my being over qualified for the technical part of the job I was applying for ... so what? I intended to bring up the performance of that job to higher levels than it'd been done before. I intended to be the best darn field engineer (the position I was applying for) that he'd ever had. And ... yes ... I knew how to take orders, even ones I didn't necessarily agree with. The point was ... as I assured him ... I wanted THAT job. Not some other. I was looking to do THAT work as best I could. It was the kind of work I truly enjoyed and got a sense of satisfaction from doing. Chuckle, he hired me. And I fulfilled my promise. Did so well, improved the performance of his department so much ... he got promoted and transferred. Then the corporation asked if I wanted to take over his old job. And I told them "No." Was perfectly happy where I was, doing what I was doing. Find someone else. So I think your advice is good. Be perfectly honest and straight as to WHY you're wanting the particular job in question. You'll still get turned down by some, but sooner or later you're gonna find someone who'll listen and understand. A friend of mine switched jobs, to one he was over qualified for, for a simple reason. He'd come to the point in his life when he just wanted a 9 to 5 job without the stress and pressure. Wanted to relax and spend more time at home, with family and friends. And to have more leisure. Simple as that. He'd been a senior manager for a well known international corporation. But the job took up a lot of his time. 60 or 70 hours a week devoted to the job was common for him. He just finally decided he'd had enough. Kids were grown. His finances were in good shape. He and the wife could get along on a much lower salary. So he quit. Went to work as a hands-on tech support type at a sizable company, large enough to keep him busy and employ him. But the whole company had fewer employees than the number he used to manage. He's much happier these days, and looking healthier. Comes from more rest, more time outside playing golf or tending his gardens, etc.

karenc
karenc

So that's why I spent a year as a security guard, dutifully attending interviews for jobs I was never going to get, I was overqualified and overpaid. Oh wait security guards get minimum wage. And I never got a salary that was higher than industry standard, it took many years to even get close. So that's just overqualified then. My age had nothing to do with it, despite the face of the interviewer falling when I walked through the door and they realised that 20 years of experience really doesn't come in a 20 year old package. This must be why I work for myself now, I'm too qualified to work for anyone else Yep that must be it. .. wanders off into the distance giggling hysterically

ranandg
ranandg

To audit manager, I came across as someone who has seen it all and will quite fit the particular role offered. But I was turned down, the recruitment consultant came back to me and said that the hiring manager felt I would get bored in a short while. Which probably was true. Perhaps the MGR had a very short term view of the role, or even quite threatned of the outlook I came along with.....!

softwareFlunky
softwareFlunky

So, let's say you're being forced out of your current job, for any reason, and need a stepping stone or you're just tired of working and the pressures involved in making a higher salary and are planning on taking it easy doing some simpleton's job. Even HR says, dumb down your resume. Oh yes, even folks in HR can be pragmatic when talking to you, if they care and have nothing to lose. The other side of the coin, not even mentioned in this article, is that folks that are unemployed, highly qualified and looking for work have similar problems. They are labeled as having "issues" by Unemployment for not taking jobs that they are overqualified for and holding out for a job that is more fitting. Good luck to them. It's time to make a hardheaded appraisal of their position. Being pragmatic in their situation can at least keep them employed and current in their chosen profession while they look for something better.

vulturex
vulturex

Fortunately I not only explained I was willing to take a lesser salary and to operate within a defined job description (with the option to do more later) but I winded up getting a nice relocation check out of it which is very very very rare. Hey a check is better than no paycheck.

RobReynolds
RobReynolds

All well and good in theory - in practice the real issue is that many companies are full of managers eager to surround themselves with idiots to ensure they themselves look good. I think the real issue is the threatened aspect not the boredom part. That is not overcome in a covering letter or at the interview stage as if a manager is insecure then he/she will never bring highly experienced people on board. Companies need to face up to that challenge and deal with it.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Very odd. I mean short of making retirement age before the deadline why would even your age matter? My wild guess would be they are going through the motions before getting a slave on H1B

mamacat
mamacat

I am 52, female, and hold 2 master's degrees. I started getting turned down as overpaid and overqualified during the 2001 downturn - before I completed my master's, mind you. There is one particular consultancy here in town that would not hire me as a contract worker, citing the aforementioned reasons. They called me back some 5 years later, but the projects were too short-term - lasting only 2-3 months, with no guarantee of future employment, and I turned them down. I still have children at home to support and need something a little more stable. I did change my job; I started teaching at a prominent college as an adjunct professor, and supplemented that doing work in accounting (my official career before IT). After 6 years doing that I decided to open my own computer repair business. I have thought about applying for other jobs, even talked to a government agency about the possibility. I was told straight out that I was too old, they were looking for young candidates for a "future leadership" program. So much for EOE. I was so discouraged by employers during the '01 downturn that I essentially quit the traditional job hunt, and started to look for other ways to find work. Personal exposure and word of mouth have been very beneficial. I had a standing invitation to teach made by a dean at the college where I did my undergrad work. I had been her FA for several classes when she was a professor there. Interestingly enough, I am some 5 years older than her. Word of mouth has been essential to building my business, as you might guess. My suggestion would be to start attending a few meet ups or other social networking events - not for IT groups, but for management groups that represent one or more industries in which you might like to work. Invest some time in getting to know some of those folks. If they are not hiring they may know someone who is hiring.

Nsaf
Nsaf

What you say is absolutly the truth.

victor.gutzler
victor.gutzler

After many years of racking up experience in one industry, then getting laid off, it is the perfect opportunity to go back to school and get an associates in a different field. When HR asks the inevitable question after looking at your resume, "Why do you want a lower paying position?", the obvious answer is to "work my way up in a new field." And once you get the job, advancement is quick due to your previous experience. I remember back then that I was blessed to get a job at Taco Bell in order to pay bills. I am so grateful to the manager, who was half my age, to give me a chance. I was put on stocking and cleanup duties (my food prep was too slow, and I made the burrito supreme and taco salad like I would like it, too loaded for our customers, though), but the job had the perk of taking home a meal at half price. I would highly recommend working for a restaurant while looking for a job; you will never starve!

Head_IT_Man
Head_IT_Man

Not applying for roles.... but attempting to FILL roles. People see "Junior" in the job title, yet still apply with their 10+ years experience. I am having a HARD time knocking people back, but I know a) my budget doesn't stretch to their salary requirements and b) if I WERE to hire them, they'd be out the door for a "better" role as soon as it comes up. We're looking to put on a junior with the idea of training them up.... hopefully to be better than I am at my role.

GreenPirogue
GreenPirogue

Okay, I have been on the other side of the desk, and although I would love to believe someone who give a "straight approach," a lot of people lie in interviews. Even on this board, I have read several responses where people suggest lying to get a job. I would not have hired you - and I would have made a mistake. But I don't think I am different than many other who hire.

agoodspeed
agoodspeed

You've given great examples of what is important in employment at any level. If you don't know what you want you can't be happy in any position. There are leaders and there are followers. It is a choice between the two that makes the difference in ones position. It is the want in the employee or manager that dictates which roll they play. It's horrible to see a follower in a leadership roll and vice versa. However, there's no problem with those capable of leading who wouldn't want to just be in a follower just as there's no problem with a follower wanting to be in a leadership position. The problem comes when neither party realizes their issue, or fails to recognize their inability to embody the roll. If an individual doesn't want to be a manager they shouldn't feel that they need to be in that roll. When you admit that you're happy in your position, you're doing you and your company a great service. Motivation to "climb the ladders" is a great thing, but those getting into the IT market should take your story and learn that it is much more important to enjoy than attain a position.

renodogs
renodogs

You've nailed it! Listen folks, when you get a seasoned applicant in front of you and you're the hiring manager or possibly the HR person, don't be an insecure DOLT and overlook the experienced engineer/tech/consultant that is asking for a job. You have absolutely nothing to fear if you hire them because you will only look good to your own management. You'll have less training issues, and these people tend to show up for work because they aren't busy with nonsense from their personal lives. They know how to keep them separate because they've already made their minds up that they work to live, not live to work. That's called a professional, and some less experienced folks could stand to learn something from that, regardless of your industry. If you as the hiring manager see it as hiring Dad, what the hell is wrong with that? That reveals more about how weak you are than it does about the prospective new hire. Quit being afraid of your own shadows and grow a pair. A lot of these seasoned people are former military and know how to work. They show up on time, keep their private and work life seaprated, and understand the concept of team work. Those type of people take orders (whether they like it or not) and execute them. No, they're not machines; lest your fantasy kicks in that you've just hired am automaton. Are they perfect? No. You'll have some that are pukes. That happens- but not that often. The percentage of experienced people that have problems are much less than 'newbies' to the trade. The main point is this: relax when someone is asking for a job and quit acting like you're personally being stalked like a freakin' wild animal!!!!!! Sheesh! Hiring people isn't that hard if you have your shit together. If you don't, then the prospective new hire will smoke you out in a few weeks and you'll be right back to ground zero, which means, maybe you ought to look at that rather than to blame the experienced person. But come to think of it, maybe that's the real issue of hiring experienced people- they have their B.S. detectors on and you're afraid they'll expose you. :) I'll put it to you this way: I would never be nervous around my Dad (or Mom) if I were working with him. Why? Because I have confidence in what I do and I also have confidence in his abilities. That's how professionals work, unlike a lot of places we've all worked in that resemble scared Gazelles on the African plains rather than an IT department with a task at hand.

mamacat
mamacat

Never worked as a security guard, but when I was young, uneducated and desperate I drove a cab for a bit! lol I kept my expired cab license to remind me how much I NEVER want to do that again. I can wander and giggle right with you, though. I also own my own business as a result of all the problems discussed in this thread. Honestly, I think this is blatant age discrimination. We have worked our way up, slaved to make others successful, and at the point where we ourselves have become successful we are laid off and replaced by cheaper labor some 20 years younger, then others refuse to hire us because we are overqualified (read too old), and overpaid (too expensive). That's ok. As more of us leave the market, they will feel the pain. We outnumber them.

LightVelocity
LightVelocity

... and you were offered because you weren't one of those 'Plenty of idiots' who obeys an IT Manager's every command and takes the blame for project failure. ... and you took it not because the money was big, but your overqualification was of great use to the business and you had genuine desire to contribute to the business :)

mfcoder-hh
mfcoder-hh

As they only make the worthy people feel worthless. I've been in companies where the manager only wants to hire stupid people - surround yourself with people who won't challenge you, and are no threat. You end up with a "tier of incompetence" making important decisions. The smart manager knows to surround himself with the best people. Push themselves and the company to a better place. Never pass up the opportunity to bring somebody good to your company. Why would you not?

ArnoldZiffle
ArnoldZiffle

Somehow HR types and even some in the IT management world believe that seniors simply can't fit in to the rapidly evolving world of CS (A multi-use acronym if there ever was one.)

ArnoldZiffle
ArnoldZiffle

Oh, trust me I've begun the networking. I'm checking into lots of other scenarios. I'm not afraid of career change. I started out as a mechanical engineer and changed careers to programming cold turkey (overnight in fact). I had been writing programs for years to support stress analysis and I just found it more fun. It's best to do something you enjoy. I understand your past problems. My roommate has a Masters and she works for peanuts, eking out a living. It just isn't right. But she is facing the 'good ole boy' problem where she works and with this economy it's tough to look elsewhere. For me I'm continuing my education and certifications. And hanging in there.

karenc
karenc

When I apply for a job I know what salary is being offered before I apply, believe me I'll be happy with that salary, don't price me out of the market because I have experience and you think I'll demand more money. I've heard people use that argument, they've used it to me, I still have rejection letters with that argument in it. I pointed out in an earlier reply that I worked for a year as a security guard for minimum wage partly because of arguments like that one ? If the interviewee turns up for the interview then they already know what's on the table, if they aren't OK with the salary then they won't apply for the job. Not everyone wants to use you as a stepping stone, lots of short term positions really don't look good on a CV, you learn to spot them after a very short while. Take a chance and give the experienced applicants a go.

MET1
MET1

Where I work the CIO refuses to hire juniors - and just brings in H1B workers or off-shores the work. I appreciate that you are not as short-sighted and I know that there is a big payback for your way of doint things. Personally, I enjoy working with juniors and would prefer to train them and grow them instead of an ever-rotating array of temporary staff.

Osiyo53
Osiyo53

"a lot of people lie in interviews" Absolutely. "I would not have hired you" Okay. Your prerogative. "But I don't think I am different than many other who hire. " Probably not. The thing is that whoever else you hired ... at the same pay I was willing to accept, but with lessor experience and abilities claimed ... may also have been lying to you. It has been my experience that the less experienced and able are more likely to .... ummmm ... exaggerate than is the case in the vice versa situation. FWIW, when I worked for a major telecom, a branch of it. I knew of several cases similar to my own. It is not that it was common, but neither was it uncommon. For instance, one very able fellow. One of our very best central office technicians. He applied for and got a position as a manager. Did well at that, moved up. Then again. The last time taking a position that moved him out of this state. Maybe 5-6 years later he showed up again in my area ... as a central office technician again. I asked. He stated that like myself he'd gotten tired of the TYPE of work he'd been doing in that last position. Plus he absolutely hated the fact that it'd taken him into a major urban area. Said he'd have been back sooner but it took several years before he could find an open position to apply for that'd get him back to the place he preferred (small town Minnesota) doing the sort of work he actually enjoyed doing. Chuckle, he said he wasn't ever going to do that again. Was staying where he was at until he retired or died. To him, the extra pay and prestige simply was not worth it.

philip_jones2003
philip_jones2003

Which then begs the question: 'Do I want to work for this person?' A good manager is the sum of the people working for him. He can exploit the abilities of his team for the maximum benefit of the company. If the manager feels threatened by me then it's his work-ethic that needs adjusting unless you want to work with a team that will never see its potential realised. 'I'm on your side buddy. If I wanted your job then there are other positions available elsewhere.' We are not all aggressively ambitious, which fact does not stop us working professionally and giving our best for the company. There are many good and valid reason why someone would want a job with less pressure and responsibility : More time with the kids is one.

Dr_Zinj
Dr_Zinj

One excellent way to improve your intelligence and creativity is to surround yourself with more intelligent and creative peers and subordinates. It also means that you don't have to spend as much time mucking around with the technical details, and can spend more time learning and being a better supervisor/manager. There is nothing better than being able to stand up in a company meeting to recognize you're people's accomplishments and acknowledge that you've got the best team in the business working for you. /sigh those were the days.

earl.elmore
earl.elmore

DISCLAIMER- I'm no expert, just a first year IT student. This is actually my first post...but hey, I feel strongly about this. In my opinion, As you said, a smart manager knows to surround himself with the best people. Most managers are only concerned with their current status. This isn't the way to advancement though, because being able to manage people is, obviously, a big part but so is building a good team. It comes down to, stay where you are and feel safe; or hire great employees, build a great team, get recognized, and advance further. A great manager may lose his job to one of his hires, but mostly because he will have a higher position himself for hiring great employees.

vulturex
vulturex

Plenty of idiots off shore to obey an IT Manager's every command and take the blame for project failure.

ArnoldZiffle
ArnoldZiffle

you must evolve. As I like to refer to it, "You must stay on the bleeding edge." It's true you must re-educate yourself about every two years in the business.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

they are. You can't last in IT without evolving yourself, well excepting mainframe cobol coders and such. One of the points I use to sell myself is the stuff I'm doing now was sci-fi when I started.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

The people look at the DR in front of the name and don't understand that the letters at the end mean something that may not be related to Medical. Just the Dr Bit so you must be a Medical Doctor. Pity that most of the people who can call themselves Doctor are in no way related to anything to do with Medicine. But then again some of the Quacks that I know are interesting people. One Orthopedic Surgeons answer to everything is Bone Glue. You have a Shattered Bone Glue it together and go about your business. You have a Paper Cut grab the Bone Glue and glue it together. Or recently at a Party he was called by the local Hospital and asked how to prevent a early stage Labor from going it's course. Apparently he has a similar name to a Gynie and he gets a lot of these phone calls. Or maybe He's the next number on the speed dial and gets lots of Wrong Numbers. Anyway this time being completely drunk he suggested filling her with Bone Glue and calling a Gynie for what to do after that. After all it was an emergency fix that would have worked from some prospective, however it may have been messy for the Gynie to fix up after wards. ;) Thankfully I don't do much medical work these days but I'm currently waiting outside a Court to give evidence and because my time is worth nothing to the people involved I've now been waiting 3 days to give my evidence and be cross examined. Today is the start of Day 4 and I have no idea when I'll get into the Court. The interesting thing is asking for someone to witness your signature all of them panic and run a mile. ;^0 Col

ArnoldZiffle
ArnoldZiffle

Being asked to render medical aide. That's scary. I've done that legal stuff too. When asked for my credentials I said, "How about 35 years of experience in the field?" Made pretty good money as an expert witness on that one. $90 per hour plus expenses. It was a two hour drive one way so I got paid for driving time as well. Sweet. Mr. Ziffle's (oink) son.

OH Smeg
OH Smeg

Many years ago the Boss bought airline tickets for me and it was just a matter of me turning up getting on the plane and doing my job. On one flight a Airline Employee as I don't think you can call them Hostess any more approached me and asked me to render medical assistance to another passenger. Apparently the Woman in charge of making the ticketing arraignments was always telling them I was a Dr to not get held up when she was booking or maybe just big noting herself. I'm not sure which now but that is part of the reason I've only ever used that crap when it's Legal Work going to Court. But mainly because I feel those that are impressed by that stuff aren't worth impressing in the first place. ;) Col

ArnoldZiffle
ArnoldZiffle

Yes, I have a friend whom I call the Mad Russian (his lineage) who once told me that his PhD in AI only served him once. That was when he had to deal with an MD. Referring to himself as Dr. so-and-so got him instantly past the receptionist and into the MD's office. Sad but true.

OH Smeg
OH Smeg

I was getting Knock Backs about 2 years after finishing my Phud in Mech Engineering. Seems that being called Dr by the HR types which I have personally never used or the fact that I owned my own business designing and building Race Cars made me useless for any other employer. At the time I was 25 years old and Overqualified to work as a Mech Engineer. Things got worse when they found out that I also had Phuds in Electrical Engineering and Physics. :^0 Col

Osiyo53
Osiyo53

"That would be silly because being a coach and being a player are two different things." Very true. An entirely different job, entirely different skill set, an entirely different focus and purpose, etc. "Why wouldn't a manager select someone who was stronger than he was technically? " Because he IS silly, and not a very good manager. Of course, some of them do it because they are insecure. Others because of misplaced pride and/or inflated ego. Forgetting their role and purpose. As a manager, your job is NOT to be the best player. Your job is to manage the players, their work environment, their tasking, their assignments, and to HELP them develop into the best darn players each can be. Hopefully, helping to support and develop each into far better players than you, yourself, ever were. I'm a retired U.S. Navy Senior Chief. One of the things I learned early on, when I first made Chief, was that I could not do it all myself. Not only that, but I shouldn't even try. It was not my job. Not any longer. I had to be reminded of that fact. I was a newbie Chief, with a bit less than a year in that position when a Master Chief who'd been watching me for a while took me aside and gave me a bit of lecturing that I really needed (even tho I didn't know it at the time). He dragged me off to the Goat Locker for a cup of coffee and a bit of a chat. He'd found me down in an equipment space with some of my guys standing around and me with tools in my hands fixing something I thought them unable to repair as well as I could. He essentially expressed disappointment in me ... for failure to do my job and my duty. I kinda looked at him with that deer caught in the headlights look, surprised and unable to figure out how to even respond to his statement. He went on and explained I was derelict in my duties and responsibilities. My job, as he explained it was to develop my team so that each member could do his job as well or better than I could have ever done it. To teach em what I could. For those things where I was not the best teacher, maybe something I wasn't personally good at. To find and identify the resources (maybe someone else) to teach em those things. An outside resource, or perhaps even one of them who excelled at that particular task. AND to guide and aid them in learning for themselves, developing their own skills to a level perhaps beyond what I could've done. Did I think I was the ONLY person on my team with a brain and the ability to think? If I did, in his opinion I was a fool, and an idiot, with a much inflated ego which needed some deflating. Just as bad, I was tinkering around doing stuff I shouldn't be doing in the first place and neglecting the parts of my job I SHOULD be paying attention to. Like getting everyone on the same page, with the same goals. Getting them to operate as a TEAM instead of a bunch of individuals. Developing an individual training plan for each, tailored to THAT person's needs. Setting goals, timelines, managing the budget, making plans for upcoming tasks, making sure each team member had what he needed to perform at his best (tools, materials, training, experience), keeping upper level types at bay and not letting them disrupt or interfere with the team and its plan (I had one, didn't I?) and goals, look out for roadblocks and remove or bypass them, and so on and so forth. In the end he simply stated, "Dammit Chief, your job is now to lead and manage and develop your team until each member is as good or better than you ever were. Not to do technician tasks yourself. You'll know when you're doing your job right. Because when you do, they're not gonna need you for anything except making sure they have those things they need to get the job done, and to keep the friggin Officers off their backs and out of their way. When you can just point and tell em what needs to be done in what priority, and then come down here to sit, get fat, and drink coffee with 100% confidence they'll get it done and get it done right ... THEN you've done your job correctly. And at least a couple of them should be able to step right into your job if you up and drop dead, or you're not doing justice to the best of the lot." You know something? He was right. I learned and changed. For me personally, the problem came when I moved on up. Became a Senior Chief (and at one point was frocked to LDO). I could do the job, and do it well. But grew increasingly dissatisfied with the daily work. The dissatisfaction continuing when I retired from the Navy and became a manager with a large corporation. Okay, I could do it, and knew what needed done, why, and how. But it just didn't have the personal satisfaction at the end of each day I got from being a more hands-on type. From my earliest memories I was always the inquisitive sort. Wanting to know how something worked, how it was made, how it was put together, how to put it together, how to make whatever, and so forth. Science and technology were my favorite subjects. Took every such course I could in school. And every "shop" course they let me take. Didn't matter what, wood working, metal working, electronics, whatever. MAKING something, or fixing something, or designing something was just .... soothing and satisfying to my soul. Providing a satisfaction I just did not get from dealing with budget spreadsheets, project management files and paperwork, dealing with personnel issues and conflicts, attending seemingly endless meetings, and so forth. So one day I finally decided I'd had enough. Hung up my "manager" hat and announced to one and all I was going to go find a job where I could fix, build, design, or break things. Boned up and got current on my technical skills and went back to work in that capacity. I note that another poster implied that the difference between a manager and somebody like a tech or engineer was that the first was a leader, the second a follower. I don't think I can agree with that assessment. In my current position (tech/engineer/programmer) my boss, a manager, doesn't actually do much "leading" so to speak. He prioritizes jobs. Tells me what priority he needs em done in, and gives me the spec info ... the criteria the contract sets out for the job to be considered successful enough so we get paid for it. Then he stapes aside and gets out of my darn way and leaves me alone. The ball is now in my court. I figure everything else out and get it done. He couldn't do MY job if he was even inclined to try. And he's not. Nor would he make that claim.

jmarkovic32
jmarkovic32

As such, your concern as a manager should be "winning", however your company defines that. A great coach wins games by surrounding himself with great players. Do you think Phil Jackson was scared that Kobe would take his job? No! That would be silly because being a coach and being a player are two different things. Likewise, being a manager and an engineer, for example, are different positions with different requirements. We would hope that a coach selects a player that can shoot the jumper better than he can. Why wouldn't a manager select someone who was stronger than he was technically?

jmarkovic32
jmarkovic32

These days it's all about the bottom line. IT is seen as a utility and a cost so the reality of the matter is that managers are looking for the cheapest/most-qualified person out there. So Toni's suggestions have weight. Just let them know that money isn't your primary concern and if it was, you would have stayed where you were. Right now, especially in IT, we're a cost. When I left my previous company, they couldn't afford to hire someone else because no one with my experience could afford the 50% pay cut.

DaemonSlayer
DaemonSlayer

It is a sad state of affairs indeed. Too many people in management have become blind to the real benefits of hiring the intelligent worker. As you said, I'd rather hire a bunch of competent and intelligent employees to work under me, so I don't have to babysit them every second, thus making my job easier. Nope, instead they'd rather hire those barely competent and in need of hand-holding. While they look like Einsteins in comparison, they have actually increased their own work-load 10x. The cost of these incompetents is usually cheaper labor though, and that's all the bean counting MBAs look at.

philip_jones2003
philip_jones2003

Hello Eoghan, At first reading I saw a hint of bitterness yet on subsequent readings I see its not the case. The idiots often do get the recognition. An application or modification goes live and a week later goes pear-shaped. Panic all around. Idiot has to sort it out and does what should have been done in the first place...ask for help from those that know. Shared knowledge again? Problem solved and idiot gets recognised for having fixed a problem that put 'X' people off-line for several hours/days or even longer. There are plenty of other scenarios for this. No one asks who put the code up in the first place and if they do then someone else gets blamed for moving the goal posts. I guess 'anticipate' has too many syllables. Write a piece of code that runs forever (like all those that an-tic-ip-at-ed the year 2000 for example) and unless you shout about your efforts then 'it must have been easy to write'. God forbid that personal satisfaction for doing something well should ever be reward enough. For those of us that prefer something a little more than 'hello world' programs then personal satisfaction for having done a job well does rank high. The need to shout such achievements off the rooftops is just not there. Restless? Absolutely. No one company is going to provide an everlasting stream of challenges.

mbrown
mbrown

Someone sounds bitter...ok, breathe deep and pursue a job working for a company that actually values employees that contribute to their bottom line, usually small to medium sized private companies. Totally agree on your managemnet style. My boss is frequently saying that his primary skill is hiring good people to make him look good...it actually works!

Eoghan
Eoghan

Dear Earl... I am not new to the field, I have 40+ years experience. If one expects to get recognized for a job well done, one will always be disappointed. It is the idiots that are recognized, and promoted. Don't say anything bad about them though, they will soon be the president of your firm, because they have nice hair and know how to order camel testicles in Latvian. I have held management jobs for over 30 years. I keep up on all things technical, but stand back and let my staff do the job. On occasion only will I voice an opinion. So what IS my job, you ask? To train my employees to do my job. I believe that knowledge MUST be shared. People that work for me train their own backup. No backup, no vacation, no time off. The same goes for me. I train the managers that work for me (I'm a Director) to do my job. Always hire the best person for the job. Experience is temporal anyway. Hire the person who can adapt to the job, not the fellow who has sat complacently at one company for a dozen years. That person is only moving on because he knows his time is up. Hire the restless, they want more, they want to know more. Compare it to the United States. If ALL the invading Europeans had been satisfied to plant roots along the Atlantic Coast there would now be one solid city from Maine to Miami, 1 mile deep and probably with buildings 1 mile high. No one would have gone any further away from the safety of the coast. The restless and curious are the ones that created this nation, not the complacent.

Editor's Picks