I Can’t Find A Job

Overeducated, under experienced, and unemployed

Overqualified? No Job For You!

with 14 comments

First, I’d like to apologize once again for the sporadic updates. When you hate your job that doesn’t pay you enough and depresses you (I know, I know, be grateful you have a job because plenty of people don’t have jobs blah blah blah), the last thing you want to do is do more work when you come home. And truthfully, I don’t have much time either, with all the little pleasantries (re: inconveniences) life throws at you. But I digress.

I came across an article from New Jersey’s Star-Ledger that might very well resonate with a lot of the unemployed across America. Basically, according to the article, experience can sometimes work against you. Maurice Paul, 37, worked in construction for two decades, and when he recently found himself out of work, applied to a local Home Depot as a cashier. He went in for an interview and followed up a week later when he found out that the person that he interviewed with felt he was “too qualified” and felt he would leave as soon as he could find a better job. Paul isn’t bashful about that fact either, as he frankly admits he would have done just that.

Paul sent out over 300 resumes in the last few months, including a toned-down resume that doesn’t make him appear overqualified. Paul just wants to get his foot in the door and doesn’t mind starting at entry-level.

The article goes on to say,

“Workers with years of experience, a master’s degree or doctorate, or coming from a relatively high position or salary, face a perverse situation: The characteristics that made them hirable in good times can be a hindrance when competition is fierce for positions at all levels, and workers such as Paul are finding that employers are wary of taking a chance on those who may quit as soon as the economy improves.”

The article points out that the theory that if you are breaking into a new industry or you are under qualified, and then get experience or training. But what do you do if you’re overqualified? The article recommends creating a resume that doesn’t scream that you are going to leave as soon as a better opportunity comes along. Taking a step down from your corporate job and getting into customer service? Emphasize your customer service skills instead of skills that would be relevant to a similar higher-level corporate job.

Lastly, the article states that you shouldn’t give off the vibe to employers or your network that you are settling for a job. Instead, make it appear you are willing to take a step down and you’re actually enthusiastic about your new lower-level role.

When I was on the job market, I endlessly applied to jobs. Although my field doesn’t allow me to apply for as many jobs as say an accountant, I applied for anything and everything. Low-level, mid-level, high-level, and everything in between. I couldn’t help but think my Master’s degree screwed me over as I was too qualified for low-level and under experienced for mid to higher level jobs. I even thought about taking my Master’s off my resume. Eventually I found a job that is probably below entry-level in my field. Although I’m grateful for the start, I can’t do this job forever as I would be undervaluing myself and what I’ve worked so hard to achieve.

Thoughts? Do you feel your experience and education are working against you? How has your job search been going in this market? Have you taken a step down from your previous role?

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Written by icantfindajob

March 13, 2010 at 10:47 am

Posted in Opinion

14 Responses

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  1. I was over qualified for a Tech position calling for FDA experiences. I am a tech for 20 years. Go figure.
    I think over qualified for those who are a flight risk, is a reasonable claim, this is why not good to hire a engineer for a bench tech position. In addition because of the job market employers can be choosey, If ten people apply to be a cahier do not be surprised one pass over a guy for a master degree for a guy with just a high school diploma. The later is most like to stick around.

    Sometime overqualified is just an euphemism for age discrimination


    March 23, 2010 at 11:55 pm

  2. This is why life sucks. All of the BS you have to go through only to die at the end of the race.

    Suckey McGee

    April 8, 2010 at 4:57 pm

  3. I, like you, went back to school to get my Master’s in a small college town in Louisiana. I desperately miss the city and I’m trying desperately to leave this God forsaken town. However my job search has come up short. I mean, I’m not applying for jobs in which I don’t have experience. At my current job I’m stuck at the entry-level (it appears it’ll be this way for some time) I’m applying for other entry-level positions with no responses. With over 30 applications nationwide I have not received 1 interview. I am considering not telling people I have a masters degree, maybe then I’ll get some consideration. I’ve been talking to people who work here and a lot of them came here and got stuck in their job/position for decades. The thought makes me cry. I have no idea how to get out of here, but at the same time I need my job. I keep hearing about a lot of people who don’t have jobs in their field with degrees. In a way I’m thankful I’m not one of those people. Still apart of me feels I’ve gone back to school to increase my knowledge and increase my debt without any rewards for my efforts. *sad face*


    May 4, 2010 at 12:58 pm

  4. My two cents:

    Its a buyer’s market for employers. That means they can afford to be pickier than ever before. That also means they can afford to be more insane. And the symptom of such insanity is the term “overqualified”. Show me an overqualified flightrisk and I’ll show you and underqualified flightrisk. Yet its the very experienced and/or educated who need the least amount of training and who tend to give superior results for the time they’re employed; who cares if they’re “bored” if they deliver and deliver well? Only an egocentric employer who’s had way too much job security and little imagination.

    Give the worker cake if you think he’s bored, or give him extra priviledges! Sheesh!

    “Overqualified” as a term alone illicits confusion from the candidate; that is enough to tell you that there is something seriously wrong with the HR professional that utters it. They are either backstabbing you in fear of their own positions or they’re delusional. In this economy, it could easily be both.


    June 7, 2010 at 11:38 am

  5. I just got my Masters, I mean literaly JUST got as in three weeks ago. I have a job that is way out of my degree fields (both BS and Masters)and I dread going to work every morning. I’ve only had this position since March and feel like an incredible ingrate since I went from a ‘clerk’ making half the pay and no benefits to this position. But I also really really enjoyed my clerk position and looked forward to going to work each day (well most days). I’ve applied to a few places and actually got a response back from a job that only required a bachelors and that I had previously done before, the outcome? I wasn’t qualified. LOL. I just didn’t know how to respond….not qualified…go figure.


    August 30, 2010 at 1:02 pm

  6. DW, I completely agree. Just got my Master’s and it’s almost like one has to apologise for actually spending the last four years studying. I would have thought that having a First Class degree and Distinction in my Master’s would suggest that I had the potential to be easily assimilated into most organisations.

    Anyway the Ashes is on so unemployment is a boon at the moment. Skint but happy watching cricket. 🙂

    Patrick Bateman

    November 26, 2010 at 9:15 am

  7. I would agree with completely with this article. I recently dumbed down my resume to get a job that I, basically, included NONE of my actual experience in the field, just to get the job. Why did I do this? Because I applied with the same company using my full resume a few months ago, the resume being sent directly to one of the owners, and never even got a call. Yet, I filled out a simple application listing no experience in the field, and was hired immediately! How’s that for irony??

    But, the REAL irony is that the President and all the “experts” constantly hammer on folks that EDUCATION (which includes actual experience) is the most important thing to obtain!

    Even the New Jersey Star-Ledger article mentioned above states you should “dumb down” your resume. Then, what the hell is the point of working your butt off to obtain such a resume and good credentials????

    This situation is NOT the fault of those with excellent resumes, it’s insecurity on the part of the employers. A fear that if you have a better resume than them, you might either leave or “steal” THEIR job! So it’s held against you that you worked harder / smarter than them.

    No wonder the overqualified person will leave as soon as the market opens up. The management at the “dumbed down” employer is too stupid to even realize that these “overqualified” people could help BUILD up that business, and make it even more successful.


    April 17, 2011 at 11:07 am

  8. Dumbing down your resume if you’re overqualified is of no help. It might get you the interview (as I have found), but once the hiring manager or HR does their detective work (usually an extensive written or online form requiring detailed information about your employment background) and run the background checks, the REAL YOU shows up. You’re over-qualified and a hiring risk. No donuts for you.


    July 14, 2011 at 5:33 pm

  9. All I can say is when I apply to any job I don’t have a chance in hell of getting it no matter what. Yet I know more about bartending then a deer does about antlers or a squirrel about about nuts. Instead I find. That if you barely know how to pour a drink your a garrenteed bartender.

    Jeremy Driscoll

    September 22, 2011 at 12:39 pm

  10. What does this teach our future generation. Other then whatever you do, do not get an education? So when we get to old to take care of ourselves we’ll have a bunch of retarded uneducated moronic idiots taking care of us until we croke.

    Jeremy Driscoll

    September 22, 2011 at 12:46 pm

  11. i am one of the 9% unemployed who still cant find a job – under-qualified or over qualified – sad thing is all the jobs i am over qualified for dont understand i just want a job – any job – but not debt collection!! debt collectors dont understand that some people cant pay their bills, not that we arent wanting to. i asked a state worker if they were hiring because she started to yell at me when i asked for assistance to pay bills. she didnt answer me – i am a US CITIZEN not an ILLEGAL ALIEN!! so US CITIZENS arent allowed to get help when we are the ones paying for the assistance programs in the first place?!! how many illegals do you know who pay income tax? NONE. But they are the first ones with their hands out. This country has gone down hill. One Big A** Mistake America!! I used to be a democrat, but now I see that the dems messed up this country.

    michelle lewis

    October 7, 2011 at 11:29 am

  12. Wow… this thread is scaring the bajeezus out of me. Dunno how you spell beheezus. Anyhow I am in school now, double majored Psych (BS) and Bio (BS). I have a 3.93 GPA for both majors and am on track to graduate summa cum laude (top 3% of my school, its a good school too and had to work hard for my grades). Nonetheless, I am looking to grad schools. I was so depressed because I was scouting the internet for jobs for individuals with just a bachelors degree. Turns out you can only get 11 dollar an hour paid jobs, or hell I might even get turned down for having 2 degrees and a whole lot of research experience. I don’t know if I want to get a PhD, I’ve read so many cons against it because it makes you overqualified and the job market is sooooo competitive. How sad… I’m tailoring my education based on the sad sad current job market. There’s no way in hell I am leaving school with just 2 bachelors and find out I can’t get a job after working so hard (those grades were not handouts). So options? I’m looking at a Masters degree or a professional degree. Either way, I am piling on educational debt like a good girl because that’s what I’ve been told while growing up: Get educated to open doors! According to this thread it sounds like I’m gonna get smacked in the face (by a door) before landing a rewarding job in my field.

    Blah anyhow… I’m panicking. I can barely afford to continue to go to school and I definitely can’t afford to leave school because ALL THOSE student loans will go back in repayment and I most likely will not be able to find a job in my field that will pay me enough to cover my living expenses.


  13. I’m nearly two years unemployed now. I’m both overqualified and underexperienced. What I don’t understand is how companies expect to continue finding people with experience in the future if they won’t give them jobs so they can get that experience in the first place. So much for that PhD in Chemistry. I feel like a lot of the career advice we are giving we are young is sugar coated and misleading. If only new then what I know now…..


    January 11, 2012 at 9:06 pm

  14. i hate my job, so have been applying for other jobs, I have 2 degrees (accounting & law) , it annoys me when I apply for a job & don’t get an interview, but other people in my department with no qualifications who spend all day on facebook get the job – I have tried taking my degrees off my resume & I have had a much higher success rate with getting interviews when I delete my education details!!!- so 6 years at university was a complete waste?????

    study for nothing?

    July 8, 2012 at 8:31 am

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