Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Overqualified, Undercertified

One thing that has resulted from my job hunting this summer has been a frustration at the endless need for certification. No matter what job you apply for, it isn't enough to have 4 PhD's and an MD, nono, you need to also have attained, at some point, a three to five letter acronym that people outside of the field don't realize exists. And of course these are all on limited time budgets and require some kind of prospective investment. I believe that those who find themselves in my predicament should have their own acronym on the ready just in case. Besides my name, I think I will start putting OQUC (Over Qualified, Under Certified). It means that I'm certifiably intelligent via my educational achievements and in-person charisma, but that I probably do not have that one niche qulification that a causes any given employer to overlook all sins.

It wouldn't be quite so nerve racking except that qualification and certification do not parallel one another. What's more funny is that they're not expected to. Employers don't actually think that the certification does anything - and they tell you as much! No, everyone understands that it's a hoop to jump through, and that any positive value of the certification could be gleaned from less than a month of work experience.

The whole phenomenon has to do with the proliferation of degrees and specialties. Academics provides the perfect example: Three generations ago a Master's degree was required to teach at an institution of higher learning - hence the title. Then, to be competative, you really needed a supplemental degree. Now, three generations later, it has snowballed into 1-2 Master's, a PhD, at least four published articles plus one (usually dull) book, and of course post-doc experience. I dread the thought of what university instruction will demand of its intellectual slaves in another three decades.

Why does our entire society have to be one prolonged credential pissing contest? What happened to the notion that once you were qualified to do a job as-stated, and once you proved that you could, in fact, do it, then it was the employer's responsibility as an intelligent recruiter to hire the best? People will now turn down far better candidates for ones with the proper "certification". Annoying.


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