Overqualified Means Unemployed

I have two masters degrees, and had a decent job and was doing well in my profession. I was respected and well-known.

Due to illness, I had to leave my job five years ago, right before the economy tanked. I was treated for the illness, and recovered, and the economy has recovered some, too, but I am still unemployed.

I've applied for jobs in my field, but in all these years I've only had two face-to-face interviews, and both of those were for part-time, temporary positions, and two phone interviews. All of those jobs, and the many others that I never got interviewed for, were jobs that I was perfectly qualified for. Sure, I was also overqualified, but that doesn't mean I couldn't do a great job. But none of them led to a job offer, and most of them never even bothered to send a rejection.

It's humiliating to send a follow-up email or make a call, after a week or more has passed and you haven't heard anything. I mean, these are career jobs in the field I was successful in. Where is your professionalism, people? I never let a single person wait and wonder if they were hired or not, back when I was the boss.

I've applied for jobs in other fields - office work, cleaning houses, warehouse work, food service. I used to do food service, and was great at it and loved it, but can't get hired now for anything at all because it's been too long, or I'm too old, or who knows what.

I've had two interviews for food service jobs in the last 5 years. One was for a drive-up coffee place. I have a great deal of experience with coffee - was a barista and an asst. manager at a very busy, high-end place. I've applied for numerous cafe jobs in the past few years, so I was psyched to get a call to interview at this coffee shack.

I get all cleaned up and dress nicely, and drive across town to the coffee shack location, wait for the worker to finish helping customers, then go up to the window and introduce myself. She looks confused so I say I'm there for an interview and ask if she's the woman I'm supposed to meet. She says, "Oh, no, she's the boss. She's not around today. She had to work the other location because someone was sick." Then she goes back to cleaning and doesn't offer any solutions or offer to take a note or leave a message.

I'm surprised the boss didn't even mention that someone was coming for an interview, and I feel crushed that I got dressed up and drove all the way out here only to find out that I've been forgotten.

Still, I call and leave a message on the boss' cell phone. The next day she calls and asks if I can be at the other location in an hour and we'll do the interview then.

I scramble, but make it there a few minutes early. Someone else arrives for an interview a moment before I get there. She greets the person who got there first, and then I introduce myself and she says, "Oh, yeah." She asks us both to come into the shack and says we'll just do the interview together.

She asks me to describe my coffee experience first, so I start to, and get about a half a sentence out when a customer drives up. She turns to the window and takes the order. The other interviewee and I stand quietly and wait. After the customer is gone, the boss turns back to me and says, "Ok, well thanks for coming in. I'll get back to you in the next few days and let you know my decision."

I try not to blush but I feel it rising up my face. I'm being dismissed? Really? You are kidding me. She doesn't know anything about me. Why is she done with me already? I took a shower - my clothes are clean - I'm friendly - I'm not a freak or a tweaker. I'm no beauty, but I'm not ugly. This is not a bikini coffee place, or anything. The other interviewee is heavier than I am, so it can't be weight, but, then again, she's also 20 years younger.

I manage to get the nerve to say, "Great, I'll just finish what I was saying before I go so that you know a bit about my experience." And then I neatly summarize my coffee experience very quickly, shake her hand, thank her for her time, hand her my resume, and tell her that I look forward to hearing from her.

And then I never hear from her again.

At the other interview I had for a food service position, the manager, who was probably 15 or more years younger than me, asked me point blank if I have a problem working for people who are younger than me. I am surprised, and say absolutely not. I say I've worked for many people younger than me, and I that I am a loyal, dedicated worker, and that I follow direction well, do the job well, and don't get my ego involved.

Since I've been an assistant manager several places and have also been the big boss, in my other field of work, I understand how hard the leadership postions are, and I am always supportive of my boss. Also, I truly believe that every member of the team has an important job, and I don't think any less of a server or a dishwasher than I do of the manager.

She replied, "Well, I've worked with several older ladies who DID have a problem taking orders from me, so I just need to ask." She's cold and uninterested in anything I have to say.

I did get an email from her, at least, thanking me for my time and telling me they'd decided on someone who was a better fit for the job.

That was one of the few times I replied to a job rejection - I wrote back and thanked her, but also said I hoped she would be careful not to bring up age at future interviews, since that could end up with her and her employer getting sued for violating labor laws (age discrimination).

I was not a failure at any of my jobs. I did not screw up. I worked very hard at every job I've had. I've worked 2 or three jobs at a time. I have never been unemployed for more than a week or two in my whole life. Yet, when I went to a career counselor who supposedly specializes with career changes and getting people back into the job market, she told me that I will never get hired in my profession again because
a) nobody will want to hire someone with more experience than they have themselves
b) nobody will hire me for a lesser job in the same profession because they will think I'll get bored and leave
c) nobody will hire me because they think, since I used to be the boss, that I'd always try to tell them what to do
and
d) nobody will hire me for a job at the level I was when I left, because I've been out of work for so long

She also said nobody will hire me in any profession, for any job, because my career tanked and they will wonder what happened, plus nobody wants someone with my level of experience and education for any job because it's threatening and weird.

She told me my best bet was to try to get on Social Security Disability.

I paid her her fee and left, after which I sat in my car and cried for a half an hour.

I've applied to thousands of jobs. I've hauled trash for people and cleaned filthy apartments. I've typed documents, and done data entry.
Whatever I can find for $20 here and there.

Once, I agreed to rake a double-size lot, completely covered with large-leaved trees, for a fixed amount. There were a lot of leaves and they were heavy and packed. It was a couple years' worth of leaves, and it had been raining a lot for about a week. The leaves had become a dense layer cake and we ended up using shovels more than rakes. The guy had to go back to the store 3 times for more yard debris bags.

It took my friend and I three hours working non-stop to get the leaves raked, and then the guy still wanted us to get up on a ladder and clean his gutters. I told him that my back was killing me and we'd just made $5/hr each, and that we couldn't do any more for that price. He said, "You shouldn't have come out here to do the job if you can't finish it. I had hundreds of replies on craigslist and I picked you because you seemed honest."

I thought he wasn't going to pay, but I pointed at the 30 bags of yard debris and said I thought that our work was worth $30 he was paying for the job, and that I was sorry we couldn't do the gutters, too, but could come back the next day and do those for another $30, and we could also haul all the leaves away, if he would like. No extra charge. I said I doubted many other people would've done the job for that little, once they saw the size of his lot.

He paid us, but didn't seem happy. He said he'd get his friend with a truck to take the leaves and help with the gutters.

We put gas in the tank with part of the money, and ended up with $11 a piece, blistered hands and sore backs.

Another time, I agreed to haul junk from a house that was being remodeled. It was another fixed-price job. The ad said he wouldn't pay any more than he was offering, so don't even ask. The guy sent a pictures so I could see how much stuff there was, and I thought it would be ok, but when my friend and I got there, we realized that underneath all the wood and other debris was the wall-to-wall carpeting that had been covering the entire inside of the 2-story house.

It had been raining for weeks, and the carpets were soaking wet. Not only that, but it turns out the previous owner had been a cat hoarder, and the carpets reeked of urine and feces and that horrible hormone spray that cats do.

There was so much more stuff than I first thought that we ended up doing 2 loads, packing my truck way above it's capacity. When we loaded the carpet, it was so sodden that my truck was barely clearing the ground. I thought the axles were going to snap. The dump fees were really high because the carpet weighed so much, and because we had to make 2 trips. The dump was pretty far, so I had to put some gas in the truck, and we walked away, after 4 hours of work, clearing $37 bucks. $12.50 a piece.

Not only that, but I had to take a bunch of wood debris to my place because it wasn't a full load, and going to the dump again would've cost another $25. I saved it until I had some other stuff to take in and some money to pay the dump fee. That wood was in my driveway for a couple months. Every time I saw it I felt mad at myself for agreeing to do the job after I saw the amount of carpet there was.

I've sold things, pawned other things and have moved into my basement so that I can rent my bedroom and the other bedroom to pay the mortgage. I've had the electricity and water shut off several times. I've gone two winters without heat because I couldn't pay the bill. I've gone without garbage service. I've gone to food banks. I've gone on food stamps. I've cried on the phone to the utilities begging for a few more days. I've laid in my bed under 6 blankets in a dark house, listening to the radio get quieter as the batteries died, smelling the frozen food from my freezer go bad, on the 3rd day without electricity.

I've returned bottles and cans to get bus money to take 2 buses to the charity where you can get utility assistance, only to be told that they filled all their slots at 9 am (I got there at 9:05) and I'd have to come back the next day. But, of course, I had no bus money to come back. So I had to scrounge around for more bottles and cans and sell some things to a second-hand place just to get money for the bus to come back the next day.

I've got so many bills that I don't even open them anymore. I owe credit card bills for credit cards I haven't used in 6 years - and now they've sued me for the debt and put liens on my house for them. So those debts will never go away.

I've thought about illegal ways to make money but I don't have the nerve.

I've applied for every type of job I can think of, that I'm remotely qualified for. I've written every kind of cover letter - witty, dry, to the point, brilliant, whatever. I've started telling employers about my illness, and my recovery in cover letters, even though you aren't supposed to.

I've recently sent a cover letter where I out and out begged for work. I did get a call for a phone interview on that one, but the call came the one day I had no cell service that month, because I had no money to pay the bill. I tried to call her back the next day, once I got the message, but it was too late.

And now, I just apply to a few a week. It doesn't feel like I'll ever work again. I've almost given up. Every now and then I get excited and work hard on an application. But, when a week or two goes by and I hear nothing, my mood tumbles down so low that it almost hurts, physically.

I'm so discouraged that I can barely stand to get up in the morning. I don't know how much longer I can keep going.

When I was a kid, I remember hearing about the 1929 stock market crash. There was this one detail - about men jumping out the windows of their offices to commit suicide because the crash took all their money. I never understood that. How could they do that to their families? But now I get it. It's so hard to keep going without work, without money. I can't even describe how down I am, and how little I believe in myself anymore.

But, at least I have my student loans.

So, to hell with education. I firmly believe that unless you know exactly what you need the education for, and you know that there are jobs in that field, and that you can make decent money at it, there is no reason to waste money on a college education.

I've got three degrees. All of them worse than useless.
sharinall sharinall
41-45, F
3 Responses Nov 29, 2012

That hurts just to read. To live it must be hell.

I am told all the time I am over qualified I put it on the business not my education I love my education and always want more if the business owner or boss is off put by my education thats their problem. But, yes its complete bullshit means overqualified means unemployed I have suffered the sam problem.

Oops, my math was wrong on the hauling job. We each got $17.50 for 4 hours of work. And we smelled of cat pee.