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When is the doctorate worthwhile?

Can a doctorate be harmful - keyword “overqualification”?

A common problem for young professionals who have already obtained a doctorate is that they are often overqualified for their job. Fortunately, this does not apply to all departments. However, employers tend to look for young, affordable, affordable staff.

The previous chapter has shown: A doctorate can be a good investment in the future in the long term. But can the opposite also happen? Can a doctorate also be harmful because you are overqualified for certain positions? The answer: Yes, that is also possible.

The problem even affects natural scientists: According to the Association of Biology, Biosciences and Biomedicine (VBIO), many graduated bioscientists hear that they are overqualified when they start their careers. Corresponding reservations on the part of employers often do not relate to professional qualifications at all, but rather to the fact that doctoral candidates are older and are considered more demanding in terms of work and salary, says spokeswoman Kerstin Elbing. The Association of German Engineers (VDI) reports something similar.

Be patient when looking for a job

"Many PhD applicants, some of whom are repeatedly rejected with this phrase, are frustrated," reports Elbing. Either because they felt that the overqualification could not be the real reason, or because they thought they had done something fundamentally wrong and a doctorate would generally be detrimental to their careers. Another problem: After the first refusals, impatient young professionals apply across the board for a wide variety of positions - for which the qualification does not fit in the worst case. Elbing advises young life scientists to be patient and stand by their qualifications. "However, you shouldn't give the impression that you regret the qualifications that go beyond this and that the employer is not currently using," says Elbing.

No job after graduation: PhD as an alternative to unemployment?

If unemployment threatens after completing a master’s or master’s degree, a doctorate is often a means of avoiding it. Although the Federal Employment Agency recommends accepting doctoral positions, such an approach should be carefully considered due to the lack of alternatives.

The master's thesis is finally finished, the last exam passed, the diploma in my pocket. Now professional life can come! But then there is no suitable job in sight, the first rejections flutter into the house. It is not uncommon for academics to think about a doctorate under these circumstances in order to avoid (threatening) unemployment and a gap in their CV. In a HIS survey, almost one in ten doctoral candidates stated after receiving their doctorate that their own doctorate also had the benefit of not having become unemployed.

Doctorate definitely an alternative to unemployment

The quota for Magister graduates was very high at around 17 percent and natural scientists at around 14 percent. "In principle, employment is always preferable to unemployment," says Frauke Wille, spokeswoman for the Federal Employment Agency. If a doctoral student avoids unemployment, for example by accepting a doctoral position, nothing stands in the way of such an approach. "Even if the doctoral project is not completed, knowledge can be acquired during the period of employment that can be useful in further professional life," says Wille.

Not always the right way

Nevertheless, university graduates should think twice about whether a doctorate is really the right approach due to the lack of alternatives. Because a doctorate can, under certain circumstances, damage your own career. In addition, a discontinued doctorate can also have a negative effect on later applications, as future employers could, in the worst case, attest to the applicant's lack of stamina and indecision in career planning.