How Do You Know If You’re Too Good For Your Job?

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And if so, why do you stay?

Provocative question, eh?  You might wonder why I ask it.  Don’t most of us naturally gravitate to a job that approximately fits with our level of knowledge and ability?

Perhaps… or perhaps not.  All I know is, it sometimes seems as if, whatever workplace I’m currently working in, there’s a woman who holds the place together.  She’s not paid like it, and she’s not appreciated like it, and she doesn’t have any fancy job title.  But the place would pretty much fall down without her efforts.

So, how do you know if you’re one of those women who are just too good for their jobs?  Perhaps you’re the go-to person in your workplace, the resource of whom everyone says, ‘Oh, just go and ask Janet about that… she’s sure to know!’

Or perhaps your job has a thousand and one different responsibilities and areas of expertise (despite being regarded as low-status and commensurately poorly-paid).  Yet you have every one of those areas, functions, responsibilities down.  You have that job under your thumb.  In fact you have excess capacity despite your crazy workload, and often spend spare minutes feeling bored and under-utilized or restless.

Or maybe your boss finds reasons to discuss with you the exact reasons you didn’t get that position.  That new manager’s job they brought a young graduate in for?  You know, the one it hadn’t even occurred to you to apply for?  Then he tells you how much the company values you – although a rise sadly won’t be on the cards this year – you know how the industry/economy/iChing is this year… But they really, really appreciate you!  And wouldn’t want to lose you!  You’re so valued!  (And the place would fall down if you weren’t there two days running).

Let’s say you are too good for your job – not paranoid, not deluded, not overambitious.  If so… why do you stay in it?

Well, there’s the economy.  Even when not in the midst of a recession, sheer caution is always a good reason not to leap out of the safe harbour of reliable employment.  Not without something else to go to, anyway.

Or perhaps you have  self-esteem  problems, or you have trouble objectively evaluating your performance.  You know you’re good at your job… but are you really?  Does that mean you’d be any good at anything else, anyhow?  Could you cut it out in the big cold world, away from your cosy little known quantity/devil you know?

Perhaps it’s your lack of ‘formal’ credentials that bothers you.  Sure, you’re competent.  You can do the job… and a lot more besides.  You just don’t have the pieces of paper with fancy educational establishment names on, to prove it, to make it… official.  

Or perhaps there’s a specific job you’ve always wanted.  You’d really love to try for it.  But you don’t have the experience – because you’ve never done the job.  So how can you apply?

Whatever the circumstances of your particular case, if you’ve read this far, then you’ve analysed your own situation.  You know if you think you’re capable of something more demanding, higher status, better-remunerated than your current post.  And if so – you also know what’s holding you back.

So now all you need to do is to decide on one of two courses of action:

I)To stay where you are.  Because of the economy, because of the state of your industry, for family reasons, because you’re too tired to get started in a whole different industry… there are any number of reasons.
And  sometimes this is the best decision.  Only you can know, for yourself.

2) To work on your next step, to get where you’ve decided you really want to be (rather than where you currently are).  To fulfil your potential.  That may involve job applications, vocational courses, on-the-job accreditation, voluntary work in a relevant field, investigation of self-employment possibilities and funding.  It will involve whatever you decide you need.

Sometimes this is the best decision.  Are you too good for your job?  What are you going to do about it?  Only you can decide.


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