By Lisa Parker

I know I’ve blogged about this before, but it’s worth another go. A week rarely passes without me hearing a job seeker lament about being over qualified. Employers aren’t giving them a chance, you see. They are being passed over for that $30K job because they made $75K in their last position. Well, duh. Of course they are. Can you say “flight risk?” Put yourself in an employer’s shoes. If you can pick between someone whose skills and income expectations line up perfectly with the job and someone whose ability and experience goes well beyond what’s needed, who would you choose? Don’t paint an employer a villain for being logical.

There are ways for job seekers to make a convincing case to be hired when they are overqualified. I’m saving that bit of advice for another day, however. Today’s focus is on the tendency for those looking for work to immediately aim low in their efforts. The economy is bad. There aren’t any jobs. They are going to have to settle for something and find a way to be happy. Blah, blah, blah. I appreciate things are difficult and a certain degree of settling may be necessary. To jump to that conclusion without even trying to secure employment at your true professional level is unfortunate. And I mean really trying, not just sending out a few resumes to internet postings and giving up when you don’t hear back.

So this is what happens. Individuals find themselves unemployed and immediately start applying to whatever they can find. Often times the positions are not a fit for their backgrounds and much more entry level than their previous dealings. They get rejected. They get frustrated. That rejection and frustration starts to plant the seed their situation is hopeless. Their shattered egos convince them if they are getting rejected for jobs they are overqualified for, they’d do no better if they were applying higher up the ladder. That, my friends, is bunk. Pure and simple. The opposite is true. The more in line a position is with your background, the higher your odds of landing the job. I don’t know about you, but I like higher odds.

What to do? It’s important to refrain from letting Chicken Little Syndrome hijack your job search. The sky is not falling. It may be cloudy and stormy at times, but that is the extent of it. Challenge yourself to keep a majority of your focus on securing employment at your most recent level or above. That’s right, I said above. If you are prepared with the skills and experience necessary for a promotion there is no harm in making it happen with your next position. Notice I said “majority” above. If you need to give consideration to more entry level work, do so. Just don’t let that become the primary focus of your search.

Believe it or not, professional level job seekers may have better odds landing a job now than they did in a more robust economy. Shocking, I know. Consider the fact when economies are more stable employers can count on those who are currently employed throwing their names in the hat. Not so right now. Those with jobs consider themselves fortunate and are less likely to make a move. For that reason alone, employers have fewer qualified applicants to consider. Add to the mix all of the unemployed professionals aiming low, and the problem worsens. I regularly hear employers complain about not being able to find people qualified to do their jobs. I live in Michigan, the state with the highest level of unemployment in the nation. Ironic, isn’t it.


Lisa joined the Michigan State University Alumni Association as Director of Alumni Career & Business Services on May 1, 2012. Her primary focus is to develop effective networking and resource channels for experienced alumni interested in professional development and job search strategy assistance. Additionally, Lisa works directly with corporate, education, foundation and government partners seeking to attract qualified talent, retain and develop good employees, and establish collaborative relationships in line with their established goals and objectives.

With 15+ years’ experience in third party recruiting, Lisa offers a balanced understanding of both employee and employer perspectives.

Lisa is a firm advocate of the networking process and considers it a vital element in a successful job search. In addition to helping job seekers develop and best utilize networking contacts, Lisa shares her knowledge and insight-gained aiding corporate recruiting efforts-to give Spartan job seekers an edge in terms of lead sourcing, resume presentation and interview strategy.

Among Lisa’s notable accomplishments: Prima Civitas Foundation Scholar; Michigan Works Association Volunteer of the Year; Pink Slip Mid Michigan Planning Committee; career content blogger.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Michigan State University.


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