Perceived overqualification and withdrawal behaviours: Examining the roles of job attitudes and work values

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The current study examined a moderated mediation model of perceived overqualification and job search, with job attitudes as mediators and the competence and growth work value as a moderator. We also hypothesized a positive relationship between overqualification and actual voluntary turnover behaviour. College graduates from diverse occupations completed two surveys spaced 6 months apart (n = 368). Results suggested that perceived overqualification at Time 1 led to active job search behaviour at Time 2, both directly and through job satisfaction. The direct link was moderated by work values, such that the overqualification–job search relationship was stronger for employees who highly valued work which offered skill utilization and growth. Perceived overqualification was also predictive of voluntary turnover behaviour; those at the high end of the overqualification scale were over four times more likely to have left their position than those at the low end of the scale. Finally, those who left their original positions reported less overqualification in their new positions. The current findings extend the limited existing literature by establishing relationships between overqualification and withdrawal behaviours 6 months later, and also providing evidence that individual differences may influence reactions to being overqualified.

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