How to Handle the Dreaded “Over-Qualified Objection”

Standard

unemployment11As I continue my seemingly-Quixotic quest of finding meaningful employment at the tender young age of 55, I found myself becoming more and more critical of my search methods and my impressive (if I have to say so, myself) resume.

My self-examination has left me wondering, could my resume be too impressive? Am I coming off as “over-qualified”?

Mmmm. could be.

According to Miriam Salpeter, in an article posted on AOL.com,

While you may think employers should be happy to have overqualified candidates fill their positions, the opposite is actually true: many employers won’t even consider a candidate with too much education or experience. Why?

  • They worry the candidate will be “too expensive.”
  • Employers assume (probably correctly) that the overqualified applicant will leave at the first chance to land a better opportunity.
  • Hiring managers may be concerned an overqualified candidate would become easily disgruntled and unhappy in the job. No one wants to bring on a potential “grumpy Gus” or “sad Sally” to their team.

How can job seekers address these concerns?

Target appropriate jobs. Apply for jobs well suited to your background and work experience. Now that you know that getting a job beneath your qualifications isn’t necessarily easier than landing a more fitting position, stop wasting your time applying for jobs that hiring managers don’t want to hire you to do.

If opportunities well suited for your are few and far between, consider investigating other industries that require similar skills and write a great resume that proves your skills in another field are transferable to the new field. (It can be a tough sell, but it’s a better use of your time and more likely to land you an offer than applying for jobs below your grade.)

The best way to transfer industries is to network with people who work in the organizations where you’d like to land a job. If you can convince new contacts that you’re well qualified, they may be willing to refer you for a position, and studies show referrals are much more likely to land interviews than people applying for jobs online.

Address the salary issue. Maybe there’s a good reason you’re applying for jobs similar to what you did 5 or 10 years ago. If you’re purposefully ramping down your responsibilities, make a point to explain that to the hiring manager. Most applications list a salary requirement; make sure to fill it in with a salary range appropriate to the job. On your cover letter and in conversations with hiring managers and networking contacts, explain why, at this stage of your career, you recognize there are more important things than a high salary. Identify positives, such as work-life balance (if appropriate) and the opportunity to work for an organization with a good reputation and talented colleagues. Give good reasons for wanting the job that don’t make you sound desperate for a paycheck.

Make a time commitment. When you have a chance to speak to someone about the opportunity, make it clear that you plan to stay in the job for a certain amount of time. If you are committed to this type of job, make it clear that the opportunity is a destination, not a jumping off point for you.

Make a convincing case for why the job is a good match. It’s always up to the candidate to make a case for why he or she is a good fit, but it’s even more important for overqualified workers. Study the job description and be able to point out exactly why you’re a good person for the job. Make a convincing case that this job, at this stage of your career, is exactly what you want to do.

Ms. Salpeter makes some excellent points. As I have previously written, “business veterans”, such as myself, need to take advantage of any piece of useful information we come across, in order to remain a viable candidate for employment in this challenging economy and highly competitive job market.

Just as it has always been, when searching for a job, there are times when you may have to take a small step back in your career, in order to take a bigger step forward.

Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish. – John Quincy Adams

No matter what…

Never give up. Never surrender.

-Allen

Advertisements

Young Americans Are Dropping Out of the Work Force, Too.

Standard

unemployment10Over the past several weeks, as I navigate, as a 55-year-old, through what seems to be a never-ending job quest, I have chronicled various aspects of what is going on with America’s Labor Force.

Stephen Moore, who formerly wrote on the economy and public policy for The Wall Street Journal, is chief economist at The Heritage Foundation. In an article, originally posted on investors.com, reprinted on dailysignal.com, he looks at the disturbing trend of young Americans dropping out of the work force.

…The percentage of young Americans earning a paycheck or looking for work has fallen by 4 percentage points over the course of the recovery, and those between 16 and 25 have experienced the largest decline.

Those over 65, by the way, are more likely to be working today than five years ago. This shift has cushioned the blow of young people not working.

Why is this trend so troubling? Studies show that teens who start working at a job at a young age have higher earnings later in life. One study found that those who work as teenagers have earnings that are about 10% higher at age 27 than those who did not work.

“When we hold young Americans out of jobs,” explains Michael Saltsman of the Employment Policies Institute, “that makes it more difficult for them to get higher-paying jobs later.”

The federal minimum-wage hikes that started in 2007 didn’t help. Teens were priced out of the job market. The overall teen jobless rate skyrocketed. For black males, it topped 40%.

The teen unemployment rate remains at 19.2% — even with the participation rate down sharply — so it would be hard to imagine a worse time to raise the minimum wage again.

…Saltsman’s research shows that a 10% rise in the minimum wage could mean a 2% or 3% decline in young Americans working. Seattle is raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour. A $10.10 federal minimum wage is being pushed by the White House. The current minimum wage is $7.25.

“When wages are held artificially high,” says Ohio University economics professor Richard Vedder, “jobs are a lot more scarce. Unemployment is negatively associated with the wage rate.”

High teen unemployment is a big problem in Europe, where wage floors are very high. In nations such as France and Spain, the young delay their entry into the workforce until their mid- or even late 20s. These workers’ wages rarely catch up to those who start working earlier. Europe has traditionally had a much smaller share of young adults in jobs.

“Where have the workers been going in the U.S.?” asks Louis Woodhill, an economist in Houston. “They have been fleeing into the arms of the welfare state.” Since 2007, 2 million more Americans have started receiving Social Security disability payments, and food-stamp rolls have increased by 20 million. This has substituted for jobs.

…One possible reason that the young are staying away from the labor force is student loans. Since 2007, student loans have risen by more than $500 billion, a subsidy that may be giving college-age students an incentive to take aid instead of look for work to become financially self-sufficient and acquire marketable skills.

We do no favors to the young by teaching them that they can consume or have a good time without first earning the money they spend. The decline in young workers couldn’t come at a worse time. At the other end of the spectrum, as the 80 million boomers move swiftly out of the workforce in the decade ahead, who will support them? Mick Jagger isn’t going to be playing forever.

It is a natural inbred desire of mankind, from our “hunting and gathering” days, to “eat what we kill”. IN other words, to be able to provide for ourselves and our family.

Of course modern man’s version of this, is to be a participant in the work force.

In 1993, multifaceted actor Kevin Kline starred in the movie, “Dave”, as the owner of a small town staffing agency, who is a dead ringer for the President of the United States. During the movie, Dave gives the following observation, which nails this innate desire I have been speaking of,

If you’ve ever seen the look on somebody’s face the day they finally get a job, I’ve had some experience with this, they look like they could fly. And it’s not about the paycheck, it’s about respect, it’s about looking in the mirror and knowing that you’ve done something valuable with your day. And if one person could start to feel this way, and then another person, and then another person, soon all these other problems may not seem so impossible. You don’t really know how much you can do until you, stand up and decide to try.

To get so down on yourself, so depressed that you don’t even want to look for a job, happens to all of us at one time or another. The important thing is, to fight through it, to realize that you are special. You are the only “you” that there will ever be.

Fight for your right to succeed.

Never Give Up. Never Surrender.

– Allen

Unemployment May be Hazardous to Our Health

Standard

unemployment 9How is our nation’s economy doing? Well, from my, and millions of other Americans who are unemployed, vantage point, not so hot.

But, hey, boys and girls…there’s Good News! According to “the experts”, the Recession was over in 2009.

So, what is this massive, painful unemployment our nation is still experiencing? A Hangover?

The New York Times reports that

Recessions are always painful, but the Great Recession that ran from late 2007 to the middle of 2009 may have inflicted a new kind of pain: an era of slower growth.

It has been five years since the official end of that severe economic downturn. The nation’s total annual output has moved substantially above the prerecession peak, but economic growth has averaged only about 2 percent a year, well below its historical average. Household incomes continue to stagnate, and millions of Americans still can’t find jobs. And a growing number of experts see evidence that the economy will never rebound completely.

For more than a century, the pace of growth was reliably resilient, bouncing back after recessions like a car returning to its cruising speed after a roadblock. Even after the prolonged Great Depression of the 1930s, growth eventually returned to an average pace of more than 3 percent a year. But Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew, citing the Congressional Budget Office, said on Wednesday that the government now expected annual growth to average just 2.1 percent, about two-thirds of the previous pace.

“Many today wonder whether something that has always been true in our past will be true in our future,” Mr. Lew told members of the Economic Club of New York. “There are questions about whether America can maintain strong rates of growth and doubts about whether the benefits of technology, innovation and prosperity will be shared broadly.”

The most recent recession and the slow recovery have “left lasting scars on the economy,” the Labor Department concluded late last year in a report that declared slower growth “the new normal” for the American economy. The Federal Reserve, persistently optimistic in its previous forecasts, said in March that it no longer expected a full recovery in the foreseeable future.

Lawrence H. Summers, formerly President Obama’s chief economic adviser and now a leading member of this Cassandra chorus, has warned that growth may fall short of expectations unless the federal government increases its spending on things like upgrading deteriorating roads and bridges and the development of new technologies. “A soft economy casts a substantial shadow forward onto the economy’s future output and potential,” he said in a speech in April.

So, we’re presently peering down a long, dark tunnel, with a light at the end of it, that may or may not be an oncoming train.

And, to add to our misery, being unemployed can actually be detrimental to your health.

Many Americans become so depressed, that they find it extremely difficult to pull themselves out of the abyss of rejection and hopelessness.

Additionally, I am finding that sitting all day, searching the Worldwide Web for employment, can cause one to gain weight, simply from the lack of physical exertion.

So, with the economy in a slow (to the point of being lethargic) “recovery”, what can those of us trying to find gainful employment do to fight these personal challenges which accompany long-term unemployment?

Well, the bad new is: There’s no easy solution in a down economy. Everyone who is out of work suffers, even those who are young and well-qualified.

Perhaps the best thing to do is to focus on making the most of the job search, expanding one’s geographic and career horizons, and focusing on the specific steps it’s going to take to make something happen.

That could mean going back to school or learning some new skills, such as expertise in the New Technology, in order to be more attractive to potential employers and to be more competitive in the marketplace.

Improving your chances at employment may even involve moving to a city or state where the unemployment rate is significantly lower (if you can still afford to).

The important thing is to find things you can do that may help, and get started on those.

You are not your job. The sooner you realize that, the sooner you may find new work around the corner.

NEVER GIVE UP. NEVER SURRENDER.

– Allen

Ready to Go to Work…With No Place to Go

Standard

Unemployment9The Weekly Jobs Report, which was released on June 6th, showed that America’s Unemployment Situation remains at “Status Quo”.

Or, as a member of our Brightest and Best would describe it, “SNAFU”.

According to Forbes.com,

Jobs numbers released by The Bureau of Labor Statistics Friday morning were better than what economists were predicting, leading the markets to pick up steam in early trading.

Non-farm payrolls added 217,000 jobs in May, slightly above the 215,000 that economists were expecting. The unemployment rate, which is drawn from a different survey of households, remained unchanged at 6.3% and is 0.1% better than the 6.4% consensus.

The labor force participation rate also remained unchanged from the 62.8% rate reported for April, the lowest rate in decades. The BLS said Friday that the participation rate has shown no clear trend since this past October but is down by 0.6% over the year.

April’s employment numbers were revised down to 282,000 jobs added from 288,000. March payroll figures were not revised, remaining at 203,000 non-farm jobs added. Total employment gains those months were therefore 6,000 lower than the BLS — a division of the Department of Labor – previously reported. Job growth averaged 197,000 in the prior 12 months.

Ron Sanchez, executive vice president and chief investment officer at Fiduciary Trust (a Franklin Templeton company) said in a phone interview Friday that while not as robust as many economists would like to see, the results are positive because of the stability and consistency they show in the labor market.

“This is the fourth consecutive month that non-farm payrolls increased more than 200,000. That is the first time that we have seen four consecutive months of 200,000 or more since October of 1999,” Sanchez said. “For a number that has a high degree of variability, this is notable for its stability. And markets always like to see a true trend, and this would appear to be a well-entrenched trend.”

The number of long-term unemployed — defined as those who have been jobless for 27 weeks or more — was essentially unchanged at 3.4 million in May, accounting for 34.6% of the country’s unemployed population. Over the past 12 months, the number of long-term unemployed has declined by 979,000. The BLS also reported that 7.3 million people were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

Of that 34.6% of our population, who have been trying to exist without a job for an extended period of time, 37.2% have just “flat-out” given up (Southern colloquialism).

So, just what is going on here?

The Christian Science Monitor reports that

Economists at the investment bank Goldman Sachs recently sought to estimate the size of the “participation gap” – the part of the participation decline that reflects a weak economy rather than other changes. Goldman economist Sven Jari Stehn reckoned the figure is about 2 percent of the labor force – which would be a stunning 3 million people.

Currently, about 10.4 million people are counted officially as unemployed (in the labor force and looking).

Whatever the correct answer to the participation mystery is, it could help determine the dynamism of the US economy in years ahead. An economy with more workers, for example, would mean more innovative talent and more national income.

For now, the economy still has fewer workers than it did in 2007, even though the working-age population has grown by about 15 million people.

One result: Where some 63 percent of all working-age Americans had jobs in 2007, the share with jobs is now just 58.6 percent.

Even as the economy has been in recovery mode, that number has barely budged for three years. Yes, several million jobs have been created during that time, but at a rate that essentially treads water with population growth.

Federal Reserve officials including the incoming Chair Janet Yellen will ponder this issue deeply as they consider when to raise interest rates.

If the Fed judges that lots of would-be workers will trickle back into the labor force, it may try to keep monetary conditions loose long after the nation’s official unemployment rate comes down toward 6 percent.

With the Fed’s foot on the monetary accelerator, more jobs might be created and more people drawn to participate in the labor force again. Inflation is a risk, though, if Fed policy ends up being too loose for too long.

The participation puzzle may take some time to solve, because discouraged potential workers won’t flock back into the job market all at once.

“In the current recovery, it will probably take a few years before cyclical components put significant upward pressure on the participation rate,” an analysis by economists including Mary Daly at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco concluded last year.

But they estimated that such a rebound in participation should come. “We find evidence … that the recent decline in participation likely has a substantial cyclical component. States that saw larger declines in employment generally saw larger declines in participation.”

According to Yahoo.com,

The biggest drop-off has come among young workers. The recession and subsequent weak recovery have cut sharply into opportunities for entry-level workers, in virtually all industries. Some simply can’t find work. Others have chosen to go to college or graduate school instead of looking for a job.

The job woes of this “Millennial” generation have garnered plenty of attention. More twenty-somethings live with their parents these days, which has torpedoed the rate of new-household formation and left homebuilders and automakers anxiously wondering who will buy their products in five or 10 years. The amount of student debt has mushroomed, as many students pay for college with readily available (and often federally backed) loans. Many grads are starting their careers deep in the hole, since they can’t find jobs that pay enough to cover their loan payments while still allowing them to live independently.

That’s all well and good.

I feel sorry for these “Millennials”, but what about the plight of those unemployed in their 50s, like myself?

Our parents have passed on. We don’t have the luxury of living in Mom’s basement, eating Cheetos, and playing video games all day.

We have families who depend on us.

Yes, we can hold yard sales. However, most of us average Americans, don’t have that much junk that we can sell.

After all, we have to sleep somewhere.

And, our “Savings” were spent taking care of our “Millenials”.

It’s that whole “Parental Love Thingy”.

Despite the common misconception, most of us actually have updated our skill set to be able to function effectively in dealing with the New Technology.

We even have cell phones.

And, no. We do not want to apply for disability.  Most “ol’ codgers”, like myself, can actually still outwork a “Millennial”.

It’s that whole “Old-Fashioned Work Ethic thingy..”

So, Mr. Employer. It’s up to you to give us “Veteran Business Professionals” a chance to help you grow your business.

After all, you will be our age…eventually.

God willing.

Never Give Up. Never Surrender.

-Allen

Being an Unemployed Baby Boomer in a Busted Economy

Standard

unemployment2As I have written in the past, I am what the experts call, “A Baby Boomer”, 55 years young, born to parents of “The Greatest Generation”.

Finding myself unemployed at this age, has been a challenge. to say the least.

The big question that looms before me everyday, as I scour the Internet looking for a job, is: “Okay, Champ. Now What?”

The number of Americans in my “age category” now totals around 77 million. The oldest have already passed 65 and are eligible for Social Security and Medicare.

If these Boomers leave the workforce at the normal retirement age, currently set at 67 for younger Boomers, the labor force participation rate will continue to drop simply because of the sheer size of the cohort.

However, many of us, due to the vicissitudes of life, have no retirement fund to draw on. Additionally, most of us do not have pensions. Even those who were able to put back some money were hammered by a decade of meager stock market returns and, in some cases, bad luck or poor investment choices.

Of course, the state of the economy is not helping Baby Boomers, like myself, at all.

According to foxnews.com

The economy grew 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter—hardly the 4 to 5 percent needed to provide enough jobs and restore housing prices to pre-recession levels.

Throughout 2013, higher taxes on all income classes—President Obama’s levies on the wealthy, higher local taxes on the middle class, and reinstatement of social security taxes on lower income workers—depressed consumer spending.

The unemployment rate has become a meaningless statistic for evaluating the economic recovery, because so many discouraged Americans have quit seeking jobs.

Consumers coped by saving less but that dampened winter spending, and first quarter is expected to register at about 2 percent. Activity should pick up this spring to about 3 percent the second half of the year.

…The unemployment rate has become a meaningless statistic for evaluating the economic recovery, because so many discouraged Americans have quit seeking jobs and are not counted in jobless statistics. If the same percentage of adults were active today as when the recovery began, the unemployment rate would be 9.6 percent.

Going forward, the economy will create about 200,000 jobs each month, hardly the 350,000 needed to raise employment to prerecession levels.

But, what about all of those Americans who have dropped out of the Labor Force? Do they matter…and why?

Last year, The Washington Post’s Jim Tankersley and the Wall Street Journal’s Ben Casselman feuded over this very topic.

Tankersley sums up the discussion and answers the question which I just raised…

Why do we care that workforce participation is falling? In the column that sparked this feud, Ben Casselman gave us two answers. Both have to do with fear: We fear that the labor market is weaker than we think, and we fear that discouraged workers who left the labor force might, with enough time away, never make their way back into jobs.
J-Tank and B-Cass may not be getting along like Jay-Z and Beyonce, but after this feud can both agree that labor force participation is really important.

J-Tank and B-Cass may not be getting along like Jay-Z and Beyonce, but can they can both agree that labor force participation is really important?

Casselman tells us that the latter fear “may be exaggerated.” He also says, in his latest feud post, that I have outlined no real disagreement with his main points. So here’s a disagreement that’s crystal clear: That fear is not exaggerated. It is under-exaggerated.

Instead of thinking about falling participation as “structural” or “cyclical,” , as Casselman does. Instead let’s think of it as “inevitable” or “not inevitable.”

The “inevitable” decline in labor force participation is the one America has seen coming for decades – as the great mass of baby boomers begin to retire and mass of new would-be workers coming of age to replace them is smaller. (It also includes the shift in the economy toward more young people pursuing higher education.) If that group were largely responsible for the falling participation, Casselman would be correct. There wouldn’t be much to fear about more weakness in the labor market or the prospect of permanently unemployable people.

But the reality is that right now the “inevitable” group isn’t nearly as big as the “not inevitable” group of people who really would rather be working, if possible.

And, I am one of them.

To summarize, as the late great Rodney Dangerfield, said, in his role as self-made millionaire Thornton Mellon, in the movie”Back to School”,

It’s a jungle out there. You gotta look out for Number 1, and don’t step in Number 2!

Never Give Up. Never Surrender.

– Allen