Since doing a job that doesn't use your skills and talents can feel frustrating, overqualified employees are often bored and already shopping around. There's another solution, though, says Berrin Erdogan, professor of management at Portland State University, who has run several studies on overqualified employees.
"For the person who is overqualified, the feeling that one is deprived of the job one deserves is a disturbing feeling," says Erdogan. "We call this 'relative deprivation.' Even though the job is objectively not bad, it is beneath the skill levels and qualifications of the employee."
Over the long term, it can be bad for your sense of self, she says in a recent reddit Ask-me-Anything question and answer session.
"If the person ends up at a lower level position, they are thinking that they are deprived of something they should have had. It has negative consequences for well being, and health."
Here's what you can do to improve your attitude and your situation.
1. Look for ways to teach more junior employees
"Serving as a mentor could be helpful," says Erdogan. "Sharing your expertise with newcomers and other colleagues when needed is oftentimes motivational and counteracts some of the harmful effects of overqualification."
2. Pitch your boss new, exciting projects
"There is task crafting. It is not possible in every job and every company, but instead of seeing a job as something fixed, you could look for ways of enlarging and enriching the job," says Erdogan.
Think creatively about how you can do more in your job and approach your manager with ideas.
"This requires a good partnership with the manager and a shared understanding that crafting a more challenging job for you is appropriate," says Erdogan.
3. Seek support elsewhere
Just because you are bored at work doesn't mean you have to be miserable.
"What research shows that the negative effects of overqualification on attitudes and well being are not inevitable," says Erdogan. "What we know is that receiving emotional and social support from friends and family matters."
4. Find a side hustle or hobby that uses your skills
If you feel too good for your job, it can help to give yourself other opportunities to achieve. Find new extracurricular challenges to take on.
"Oftentimes, holding a job that is several levels lower than your skill level leads to status deprivation, so having other outlets off the job where you can meet your status, competence and growth could potentially be helpful," says Erdogan.