Too Smart for Your Job? Change Careers Before It’s Too Late.

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If you’ve been working for a year or so, arrived at work one morning and said to yourself, “I’m too smart for my dumb job,” you need to make a career change before it’s too late. (Or you need a session with a therapist on exorcising your overly developed hubris. Let’s assume it’s the former.)

Instead of sitting at your desk thinking how dumb your workmates are, or how much smarter you are than your boss, map out a game plan that will get you out of your current situation. Use that intellect you developed in earning your degree to appraise your maximum skillsets and knowledge. Once you’ve made a list of what you can bring to your new ideal career, temper your perceived qualifications with some objective appraisals. Take some assessment tests to discover your real talents and leanings--tests like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or Strong Interest Inventory (you can find and take these tests free online). Don’t rely on your buddies to tell you that you’re good with numbers, highly organized, or totally creative. Most of the time, you’re friends will tell you what you want to hear, so take the tests.

After you’ve gotten the results from your tests, try to match them with the jobs that are out there. Yes, times are tough, and you’re lucky to have gainful employment. But if you hate your job and it’s bringing your career to a stall, you may be hurting yourself in the long run. So take this next step and see what’s out there. Just don’t quit your job unless you get a firm offer from a new employer.

When looking for a match, stay focused and read each job description carefully. Google the employer, the key people who work there, and anyone else you can find on the company’s website. Scour the social media sites for comments from present or past employees. See what they have to say. Filter out the extreme comments—“fantastic place to work” and “I’m waaaay to smart for this job”—and pay attention to the average Joe or Jill working at the company. Some people actually share what their typical workday is like; others will evaluate their bosses or the company culture. Take notes. These are valuable clues as to what your workday would be like.

When you’ve narrowed your choice of employers down to three or five, prepare your cover letter and resume. If you land an interview, ask some really pointed questions to avoid getting stuck in the rut you’re in now. Some suggestions: “If I get this job, what advice would you offer? Tell me about the other candidates. What do you like about them? What happened to the person who held this job before me? What results do you expect out of the person who lands this job?

If the answers are vague or make little sense to you, it’s a red flag. Bail.


Image courtesy of Ambro/


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