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So called overqualified Baby boomers are aging more slowly Click here to print out the content area only of this page
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Overqualified is an obvious oxymoron in a creative field. What does "overqualified" really mean? It's simply corporate-speak for too expensive!
Was Salvador Dalí "overqualified"?

Take, for example, Salvador Dalí. He would be classified as overqualified if he were alive today:

  • Over fifty
  • Higher health care expenses
  • Worth more!

Were he to rely on 'getting a job' the world would have lost a precious gift. The older he became, the more he understood his craft and the more valuable his work became.

 

employment is not an inalienable right - anywhere!

Before we even get to the opportunity over fifty workers present to the nation's workforce, let's look at the predicament American labor is in -

Although we have been conditioned to believe that employment is a protected constitutional right we are now chest deep in a global economy where this concept is rare to nonexistent. Americans are shocked when plants close down and people lose jobs. The fact of the matter is - if those companies had been profitable they would still be operating. How can they pay workers if they have no profits? And ironically, the worker's own 'cost of living' salary increases could have been the very thing that put them out of work.

American capitalism evangelists have spread the free market gospel to the third world countries that offer cheap labor, confident that they would never really 'get it'. But as the third world quietly slaved away to make our lives easier, they harbored a deep dark secret that is just coming to light — 'get it' they did, and now they are going for it. Now even the Chinese, who have lived to serve for thousands of years, are becoming members of the global capitalist machine.

American Workers If the American workers themselves don't feel enough loyalty to each other to absorb fellow worker's salaries when buying consumer products (AKA: buying American products) why should the employers feel any guilt over buying foreign labor? Reality is calling and big changes are on the horizon.

Young Chinese have a greater grasp of reality than our youth. They study, learn English and work smarter and cheaper and are utterly thrilled to receive a fraction of the purely material rewards we take for granted. In most "cheap labor" countries there is no welfare - it is work or starve.

American business must also do or die and the smart ones will consider all options. If we continue to fight by the Marquis De Queensberry rules and our opponents feel free to hit below the belt we haven't a chance in Hell of winning. To compete globally we must learn how to bring down the cost of our American labor or suffer the consequences of having low prices for consumer goods but no money to buy them. That would, of course, include adapting to a more globally compatible level of "creature comforts".

there is a solution

Companies can divide their work force into on and off site departments, only absorbing the on-site labor overhead when presence on-site is required to perform their job. Since creative talent produces tangible collateral each day it is perfectly suited to off site, virtual offices.

virtual office In a virtual office situation there are huge savings to the employer - which enables him to afford the heavier talent offered by the "overqualified".

Employees who have their worker overhead reduced can work for less and still live the same lifestyle.

worker overhead It is not simply what you get paid - it is what you have left over after the expense of showing up for work every day.

American business cannot compete globally by raising salaries to acquire greater talent, but it can compete by lowering the cost of maintaining currently available talent. America is the world leader in innovations. When a company peels away the tons of government regulated expenses, the actual salary buried underneath is always very reasonable by comparison. By working in his own home office a worker could likely pay for his own benefits package with unused gas money alone.

Creative skills are culture specific

Although this problem affects all workers the context here addresses web oriented creative talent. By that I mean web design, ad design, graphic design and editorial content, such as copy writing and editing. You can't outsource this to Bombay. The creative talent must intimately know not only our culture as a whole, but know how the diverse segments, sub cultures and demographics they are targeting actually think - and differ from each other.

A creative talent in his or her forties, fifties or even sixties is better than ever at assessing the target audience and producing more effective results in a fraction of the time it takes a lower paid newcomer. Experience is the greatest asset you can have. The less experienced worker is still trying to figure out the necessary approach while the experienced individual is finished and moving on to the next project. The problem is talented people are being riffed by corporations when they are the most valuable to them. All parties lose for lack of a creative solution. Younger biological age is a new phenomenon - people are not "old" at forty or fifty anymore.

our most creative generation is aging but “younger”

Is sixty the new fifty?
From CBS News Online

"Baby boomers will enjoy not just increased longevity but better health as well. Since 1950, the death rate for heart disease has dropped by 60% and for stroke by 70%, according to Health, United States. Since 1990 the death rate for cancer has dropped by 10%.

That suggests that many boomers may be aging more slowly than previous generations because of healthy habits, such as less smoking and more exercise. Maybe 60 really is the new 50."
Some employer views on hiring "overqualifieds" in the USA
"While some employers are making an effort to hire and retain over fifty workers, such as offering flexible work arrangements, most have not yet made these efforts a priority. Employers cite a number of barriers to offering more opportunities, such as federal pension regulations and health care expenses." (Read the full GAO report)

These barriers would not exist in a virtual office environment with 1099 workers - they do not fall under the same regulations as W2 employees. 1099 contractees don't receive benefits, ergo, the company saves big here. They can staff the office with pretty young faces for company image and making them coffee, but have serious pros off site making them money.
A growing and valuable resource - if you know how to deploy it.
There is a tragic lack of insight in the corporate human resources arena today. It fails to realize that there are thousands of very talented and productive people seeking work who are ready to compromise - if the employer is also willing to compromise.

There is no such thing as overqualified. The very use of the word "overqualified" tries to convince us that there is no need to progress beyond mediocrity. Anyone with half a brain knows the more qualified the professional is, the better the product he or she will deliver. This is all about money — and neither side will get everything it wants. Both will survive though, if they can agree to off site work on a 1099 basis. If, on the other hand, the hiring company wants an on site web staff it either pays the price for real pros or gets a group of amateurs to turn out junk.

The bottom line is the baby boomers are creative, clever and in better physical shape at fifty than their parents were at thirty five. The " Road Warrior" will soon be known as your best defense on the front line of the economic battles ahead.

Tips on effective off site staff hiring and management

...an article by Michael Walls+ © 2008
Michael Walls

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What does overqualified really mean?