Ask James Caan – Issue 59
This week I’m jumping straight into the column as I’ve chosen to discuss issues facing experienced candidates in today’s job market.
Take Anita for example. She tells me she’s 33 years old, and has over 13 years’ experience in administration, management and project support – but can’t seem to secure permanent employment.
Despite holding numerous qualifications, self-funding courses and having her CV re-written – she finds recruiters aren’t getting back to her and when they do, she is told she is over qualified.
She asked me:
‘How does one play the recruitment market successfully to beat down the comments of “over qualified”, “under qualified” and “others are better suited”, and get that interview?’
Anita, I chose your letter this week as it addressed a number of much debated issues in the group at present: being told you are over-qualified and the lack of communication from recruitment agencies.
The issue of being told you are over-qualified is a term many job seekers in your predicament have been labelled. You only need to visit the threads within the group to learn that candidates aren’t happy with the excuses or generic feedback being delved out. Something has to change.
I appreciate you are in a very difficult situation. It’s one thing to amass a considerable working history only to be told you are ‘over-qualified’, but it’s also extremely hard to be out of work when you are desperate to pay the bills and eager to get working.
I find it is easier to assess each situation case by case. If you have been told you are over-qualified request tangible feedback. I know this isn’t as straight forward as it seems, but the good recruiters out there will tell you why you may have missed out.
If you have applied for a more junior position, then it may not come as a surprise. Many senior candidates apply for more junior roles in a bid to pay the bills, only to be told they are over qualified. But if you thought you were a good fit for the job – really push for feedback. Pick up the phone, email them – see if you can contact them via Twitter or LinkedIn. Try and find ways to get the conversation flowing.
I’ve read a few group members post their own recruitment PSL – what a great idea. Have a look at agencies that have been recommended by others in your situation and use their services. Whilst they may not have an opportunity at present, they can provide invaluable advice and perhaps contacts that you may find useful.
Your letter also touches on the lack of communication from recruitment consultants. From reading responses within the group I can see this is a much debated topic – and so it should be! If you have taken the time to submit an application, it is courtesy to acknowledge your effort.
It is not all recruiters – some of the smaller, niche agencies are really proving themselves, and others are working hard to improve – but those consultants who aren’t acknowledging the candidates must sit up and take note. The recruitment consultant / candidate relationship is symbiotic: we need each other, and must work together.
Anita, you are obviously an extremely passionate and talented worker with a breadth of experience, who I imagine would be an asset to any company. The key is communicating this to the employer.
Also, think about what your competition is doing, and how they’re preparing to give themselves the edge. The calibre of candidate is getting higher, so make sure you really stand out.
Recruitment agencies and employers:
If you’re looking for someone with Anita’s credentials, why not get in touch via the group? Please share any relevant vacancies in the below comments box and let’s help the group’s job searching efforts.