The Dangers of Being Under –and Over– Qualified During a Recession

We’re in tough times. With some calling Denny’s free Grand Slams akin to a soup kitchen, we know it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

As a result, you’ll notice some commentary from me on my blog that has little to do with corporate web strategy, but I know my readers, and these are the things that keep them up at night, well heck, just about everyone.

While some say that the ‘fat’ from the company is being let go, I am seeing some of my contacts and friends who I know are very capable transferring to the ‘mobility pool’. When you see thousands getting cut in single strokes, you know that very qualified professionals will be let go. Layoffs impact families, cause home stress, force individuals to rethink their expenses, and even make people move to less desirable areas.

Over Qualified Combat For Positions They’re Surprised to Consider
Some of these capable professionals will be applying to positions that they’ve never thought of before, perhaps jobs they would have been delighted to entertain these jobs 5, 10, or even 20 years ago but now, food on the table is top priority. Some will even fight for jobs in new industries that they’ve never considered before, perhaps in retail, food service, or other industries that are polar opposite of plush corporate jobs.

So what’s the challenge? It seems like they should easily be able to walk into any position and after the first interview land the job, right? Not so fast, employers will want to still hire the best fit for the job –not necessarily the most experienced or capable. Why? someone with too much experience or too much education for the position may demand a higher salary –or ask for more a few months down the road. Secondly, these overqualified candidates are flight risks, as soon as the economy picks up, they’re gone to find a more suitable position with better perks and pay.

This puts well qualified workers into a real dilemma if they need to find a new job, here are the options:

  • Suck it up and apply for less than desirable positions, but strut your stuff, hoping the employer will realize what a good buy you are
  • Dumb down the resume and interview skills not to let in that you’re over qualified for the position
  • Hold out for a job that suits their actual level of experience and education –despite that cash in hand may be slipping by.
  • Take a lateral move and go back to school and get that MBA you’ve always wanted
  • Create their own business, or simply move to beautiful Hana, Maui and live off the land. Really, traveling during a recession is cheap, I saw rates for Hawaii for $250 a round trip.
  • What’s the answer? Each individual will have to figure out what strategy works best for them, I’m sure we’ll see variations of the above.

    Under Qualified Battle Against Experienced
    My kid sister just graduated college, so I’m seeing how this impacts her generation.

    I occasionally get emails from college students that are reading this blog, and some of them are going to graduate and head into the workforce. They have perhaps equally a tough spot as the overqualified as they may be competing for positions with candidates that have actual work experience.

  • Some advice for you, you should be working in real world applications during college, part time, internships, or even at the computer lab on campus. While good grades and the diploma are certainly helpful, in corporate, there’s a reason why the education section goes to the bottom of the resume.
  • Secondly, read more and more free content online from blogs, trade sites, and industry news to pick up on the language and real world issues in the industry that you’re aiming for. Likely you have more time than money, so get really in tune with your market.
  • Go back to school and get that graduate degree –but run the risk of not having enough work experience when you hit the workforce.
  • The Kid Sister chimes in, and suggests students should take advantage of career fairs, read her thoughts in the comments.
  • Career Considerations for Everybody
    Here’s a few other things to consider during these lean times. Have you paid yourself first during the high times? Did you build your network before you needed them? You don’t want to be classified as a “nut”worker. Also, it’s not as bad as it seems (at least for people connected to me) read these survey results.

    Give some Advice in the Comments
    I’ve spelled out a few options and suggestions, but I’d like to hear from you, what should the under and over qualified job candidates do to succeed in a tough economy.