Healthy and Fit Over 40

The Overqualified 40-something Bull Hits the Fan

woman scowling using laptop

I just finished a job interview for a position that I thought fit my skills perfectly. I provided the hiring manager with samples of my work and we had what I thought was a great interview. That is until the end when I asked him if he had any qualms about me being able to do the job. He responded by saying that I had great qualifications but that he was concerned that I was overqualified and may become bored with the job should I be hired.

At that time, I explained to him how the job wouldn’t bore me and that my qualifications were exactly what he needed for the role. Later though, the more I thought about what he said, the more I realized that those exact same words have been heard by many of my over 40 friends when they’ve also interviewed for jobs. “Overqualified” is simply the PC way to tell an older person, “You’re too old!”

What is this bull$&#% that is so present in our society that we don’t value the knowledge and experience than an older person can bring to not only an employer but society as well? When did experience become a liability instead of something to accrue and celebrate?

If you need to have your roof replaced, don’t you search for the roofer with the best and most experience? You don’t reject the roofer because he/she is overqualified. I doubt that people will tell the roofer:

“I see you have great experience in fixing roofs and you have wonderful references, but really, you have TOO much experience in fixing roofs. You’re overqualified! And another thing that worries me is that once you’re fixing that roof, you’ll be bored since my roof isn’t as complicated to fix as the Doe’s house that you recently repaired after the storm.”

I know that the above sounds ridiculous but doesn’t using the overqualified excuse for job candidates sound just as ridiculous? Let’s look at the positive areas of being overqualified:

  • You don’t have to babysit me! I know what I’m doing and therefore you, my supervisor, can focus on your work. This, believe or not will make your life easier!
  • You don’t have to train me! You don’t have to allocate additional resources, such as teammates and yourself, to get me up to speed.
  • I will be more productive because I have the experience. I can do the work faster and better.
  • I know where the bugs or issues are and know also how to deal with them before they even become issues.
  • And let me point this out. Most people have a boring day once in a while at work, even with a job they love!

This experience also had me reflecting on being healthy and fit over 40. We have a fear of aging, mistakenly believing that we can’t continue to be active as we get older; that infirmity and dependence are inevitable.

I want to live an overqualified life, filled with a multitude of past experiences, learning new things, celebrating what my body can do.
But actually a healthy life well into our 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s is within our reach. I think part of the fear and doubt we have about living full lives in our later years is because society and the media portray getting older as being “overqualified” for life. Overqualified meaning that the talents, skills and knowledge that you gained through years of living (and yes, even learning from your mistakes) aren’t something positive and wondrous you can give to the world, but rather something to be ashamed of. And since our talents and minds are seen as “overqualified” we think that our bodies too are “overqualified” because they’ve been through years of experience as well and have the wrinkles and gray hair to show for it.

But guess what, we’re all getting older; the teens today are no exception. They will enter their 40s without realizing what hit them. It may be a cliché, but they will also see, just like the rest of us can attest, that the years flew by.

I refuse to accept though that I can’t continue to live a life of deadlifts, hiking, kayaking and dancing into my 50s and beyond. I want to live an overqualified life, filled with a multitude of past experiences, learning new things, celebrating what my body can do and still holding on to my hopes and dreams until my very last day on this earth.

How about you?

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Wow! You totally explained what it meant by “over qualified”!! I am 40 yrs old and have been going on interviews for about a month. Alot of the interviewers have told me the same thing. I always thought I was over qualified cause tgey said so. But now you made me think about it more….it is about the age! Thanks for the realization snap 🙂

    • Hi Jenaleigh, yes, it’s unfortunate that some employers use the term “overqualified” to justify not hiring someone who is older. But we must not let that stop us from believing in ourselves, our talents, and what we can still contribute to society! Have a great day!

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