Under-experienced and overqualified. The graduate equivalent of a rock and a hard place. That nice degree you’ve spent three, four, or five years of your life slogging away to get, vs the lack of full-time experience you wield because education has been such a large part of your life.
It’s probably the most demoralising part of hunting for a full time job as a fresh graduate.
Feedback on job applications isn’t often given – number of applicants in this testing, testing time, the busy lives of HR people, and the fact that sometimes it isn’t necessary – but it’s something that I ask for if I’m told that I’m unsuccessful in securing that position I’ve been after. As in, they have notified me in some way or another, not the month of silence after an application. I never expect a response, but sometimes I do like to know what it is that I can tweak, or alter, or learn something that I was lacking for the next time. Most of the time, it falls on deaf ears (or, more likely, in the inbox of extremely busy people), but on the odd occasion I do actually get something back.
Which is fab, any feedback is good feedback, right?
Well. Yes and no.
Yes, when they give me areas that I need to improve, or strengthen slightly, or suggest areas to read up on. No when it’s ‘we loved you, you were a great candidate, unfortunately you’re overqualified/lacking the relevant experience for this position’.
I understand the underexperienced part. Not a lot of people want to hire fresh-faced (no matter how bright eyed and bushy tailed) graduates into a senior position. Most of the times for those positions I apply because they sound interesting and I learn things very quickly, but I know that really they’re looking for someone they don’t have to train.
It’s the ‘overqualified’ I have a problem with.
Most of the positions I’ve applied for are considered ‘entry level’: ‘assistant’, ‘junior’ type positions because I feel that I don’t really know what I’m doing in that field and they can train me up, a blank canvas, into what they want. They ask for a degree, which I have (yay), and I generally feel that I’m a good fit for the advertised place, which is why I apply.
To then be told that I’m overqualified for those positions leaves me a little bit flummoxed, to say the least. I’ve been told by some outfits that I should be aiming at more managerial, but for those kind of jobs I need way more experience than I currently have: at least 2-4 years in a similar position or team-leading endeavour.
Rock, hard place, it’s never nice to see you, but here we are.
I’ve been given various suggestions as to why ‘overqualified’ gets trotted out as a ‘soz we can’t hire you’, I think my favourite is that companies may have to pay you more than they were aiming to, but even then it feels a little hollow to have that as an overarching reason. It’s eating away little by little at that self confidence I’ve been building to get me to this point.
It’s frustrating to think that 4 years of a degree that you work hard to achieve could land you in ‘overqualified’, or that companies don’t want to take the chance to give you employment.
The struggle, ey. I wasn’t expecting to get a job straight out of uni, not by a long shot. The current economic climate isn’t exactly one for taking risks in, I also have alternatives and plan B’s to explore, but I thought I’d just share where I’m at at the moment in the Undergrad to (un)Employed status. And just reassure people in the same position that you’re not alone.
I guess it’s a numbers game, something’ll turn up. I just have to find it.
Have you ever been in this sort of situation before? How did you manage to stay optimistic (or positive) and keep moving forwards? Plz leave any help you have!