Overqualified Foreign Professionals

I’m a foreign professional in Canada. I had no problem getting job offers, the universities I studied at are accredited by Canadian professional societies, I communicate effectively and efficiently, and well to put it bluntly, culturally, I can fit in. 

An Indian-born scientist denied a job because he was overqualified is hoping a court decision to revisit his case will make it easier for other highly qualified immigrants to land suitable jobs in Canada.

On Wednesday, Federal Court Justice Yves de Montigny ordered the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to reconsider compensation awarded to Gian Singh Sangha, 57.

Overqualified immigrant scientist wins court battle

Sometimes the on paper stuff, the qualifications and experience looks good, but in a phone interview, or in person, it is obvious that they are not the right person for the job. Perhaps that’s why many companies now employ almost solely on the basis of EQ tests. The job that I’m in requires the ability to use the English language with excellence and with consideration to Canadian culture as well. Standing up in public forums, addressing municipalities, negotiating deals, explaining designs to contractors on site, these are day to day part of the job occurrences.

It’s possible in the case mentioned above, that the organisation thought they were being careful not being racist to this professional.

Racism is not acceptable, let me say that.

But a company or organisation should not have to sacrifice productivity, efficiency or clients by hiring anyone.


If I moved to Japan or India, I would not necessarily expect to get a job as an Engineering Project Manager, because culturally I wouldn’t be able to do things the same way I do in Australia or Canada. Saying that, I can see how an over-qualified professional could end up applying for lower paying or lower responsibility jobs, because they just aren’t ready for a more communication driven job. Language and culture are critical parts of management jobs, but how can someone get the experience without being part of the professional culture at any level?

So what do you do when an obviously over-qualified professional applies for the job? 


Published by Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of UrbanWorkbench.com and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada.