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Overqualified/Too Much Experience

It doesn't seem to make sense that you could have too much experience, but some employers may think so. They may fear you will not be satisfied with the job that is available and that, after a while, you will leave for a better one. What an employer needs is some assurance of why this would not be the case for you. If you are looking for a job with higher pay and you communicate this in some way during the interview, it is quite likely that the employer will not offer you a job for fear that you will soon leave.

After a period of unemployment, most people become more willing to settle for less than they had hoped for. If you are willing to accept jobs where you may be defined as overqualified, consider not presenting some of your educational or work-related credentials on your resume or at interviews although I do not necessarily recommend doing this. Be prepared to explain in the interview why you do want this particular job and how your wealth of experience is a positive and not a negative.

Go out of your way to assure the interviewer that you aren't a job hopper. Maintain high enthusiasm for the organization's future, and present ways you could grow in this position. Suggest how you could assist other departments, solve long-term problems, build profit, and use your experience to help out in other ways.

"Too Young"

Younger people need to present their youth as an asset rather than a liability. For example, perhaps you are willing to work for less money, accept less desirable tasks, work longer or less convenient hours, or do other things that a more experienced worker might not want to do. If this is true, you should say so in the interview. Emphasize the time and dedication you put into school projects. Above all, conduct yourself with maturity and show some genuine enthusiasm and energy.

If you are turned down in favor of a more experienced worker, don't despair. Keep hammering away at your particular skills, your trainability, and your available years of dedication. Keep doing this, and some employer will be happy to hire you.

Tip: Remember that interviewers are also calculating salary requirements during the interview. They don't want to waste their time interviewing someone who will not accept their offer, even though they may have some flexibility to offer more for the right person. Your task is to not discuss money until the offer is made. See chapter 8 for tips on negotiating pay.

New Graduate/Not Enough Experience

Every spring, newspapers across the country blast headlines about how difficult it is for today's graduates to find jobs in their areas of study. Before you start believing the bad press too much, keep in mind that such articles show only one side of the story. Yes, many new grads do find it difficult to find an ideal position with great pay. But this is also true for many more experienced workers.

Remember that small employers are where the action is. The Endicott Report from Northwestern University reports that small- to mid-sized companies tend to be the most active recruiters and large companies do less hiring. Smaller organizations are often more open to letting you take on new projects and directions. This openness allows many people to take one job and advance more rapidly to better ones.

Many students recognize that they must take control of their careers and make their own decisions. More than 8 out of 10 students surveyed in a Right Management Associates Career Expectations and Attitudes Comparison cited their own interests and skills as the major influence on their career choice. Other traditional influences, including family pressure, anticipated salary, and luck or chance, have dropped significantly in importance. When you interview for a position that matches your personality and talents, your natural enthusiasm for that job goes a long way in impressing interviewers.

An advantage that many younger people have is being more comfortable with newer technologies than their elders are. This important advantage helps many younger workers gain an edge over their older, but less technology-oriented, competitors. If you fall into the "not enough experience" category, stress any technical expertise you've acquired in school and emphasize the adaptive skills you identified in chapter 2 that would tend to overcome a lack of experience.

Again, consider expressing a willingness to accept difficult or less desirable conditions as one way to break into a field and gain experience. For example, indicating that you are willing to work weekends and evenings or are able to travel or relocate may appeal to an employer and open up some possibilities.

Tip: Don't overlook acceptable experiences such as volunteer work, family responsibilities, education, training, or anything else that you might present as legitimate activities in support of your ability to do the work you feel you can do.

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