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Overqualified - what to do?

(16 Posts)
vvviola Fri 07-Feb-14 07:22:04

When we moved country, I left a relatively high level job, very specific to where I was living/working. I can't simply transfer to a similar job here for various reasons, although I just completed a Masters in the area.

I'm looking for mid-level admin type work - for a bit of money, and to keep me sane.

I have all the skills - the nature of my previous work meant that one minute I was dealing with accounts, the next minute with IT issues, the next minute doing basic admin and reception type work... all alongside the higher level stuff.

But what seems to be happening (from the few places I got feedback from, mostly I'm just getting form rejections which is really disheartening) is that they see my CV (Masters, high level work, another high level job that sounds a lot flasher than it was) and just say "overqualified" and dismiss me.

Any tips (other than blatantly lying on my CV, leaving off my qualifications and pretending I've been doing admin for the past 5 years, which is what has been suggested) to at least get me past the first cut? I kind of feel I have a better chance of explaining that I really am interested in the work and want to do it, if I can get to the interview stage.

I'm finding it really hard. I've never had to look so hard for work before (and we're in a country that doesn't seem to be suffering massively from recession etc) and it's beginning to affect my confidence (and my waistline as I'm a comfort eater sad)

RalphRecklessCardew Fri 07-Feb-14 07:29:10

I guess you need to convince people that you'll stick around a while. Forgive me if you've done this already, but could your cover letter give a strong reason why you're looking for a lower-pressure job? I.e. that you've decided to go for a better work-life balance until kids are in school/secondary school, that you're doing another degree/ that you wanted to step off the crazy work treadmill and have a job rather than a career. Ideally, you'd come across as a capable person who'd made a mature decision. Good luck.

TiredFeet Fri 07-Feb-14 07:38:15

Have you done more basic work in the past? I re-ordered my cv so that my 'gap year' jobs and typing etc courses were most prominent. I kept my high level jobs and qualifications on but gave them less emphasis

Could you do a skills based cv? I have seen examples of these where people detail the skills with examples, instead of listing jobs done

It can also be a case of picking employers that are less likely to be intimidated- (for instance, I got an admin job in a university)

AllMimsyWereTheBorogroves Fri 07-Feb-14 07:49:29

I'd second the idea of looking at university admin work. Your mix of experience sounds absolutely ideal. There are umpteen people with Ph.D.s and/or professional qualifications working in admin jobs in higher education (HE) - for family reasons, or because they were unable to get an academic post or decided against that route, or like you, they've moved countries/continents and had to have a re-think about career paths. Salaries in HE are not great but on the plus side annual leave and pensions are very good and there is usually a bit of flexibility around working hours.

I would also make sure that your personal statement/covering letter explains briefly at the outset why you are looking for work that is so different from what you were doing before. I think part of the art of getting an interview is anticipating all the obvious questions and answering them plausibly (and honestly!).

vvviola Fri 07-Feb-14 10:37:26

About half of the rejections have come from university jobs sad. I guess if you have someone with recent specific admin experience they will always win out over someone who might be good at it but has no track record.

Will have to look at rewriting CV and cover letters a bit.

(Also - I always felt saying you wanted the job because you were downsizing/didn't want the stress etc would come across as "I think this job is beneath me, and I could do it with one hand behind my back, and am therefore not planning on working too hard if I get it". Or am I over thinking it?)

JeanSeberg Fri 07-Feb-14 10:51:43

I'm watching this thread with interest as I will also be 'downsizing' shortly, currently a company director looking for an admin role in the near future.

I'm hoping that temping will be one way round this.

vvviola Fri 07-Feb-14 10:55:18

That's what I was hoping too - but all the temp agencies I've contacted here (NZ ) have insisted on 2 years NZ-based work plus 2 NZ references. I just can't supply that.

Will keep looking in case one makes an exception!

CareersDragon Fri 07-Feb-14 12:37:52

Hi vvvviola,

It sounds as if your CV is too detailed and perhaps too long?

I would suggest that you go with a skills based cv, based on the skills required for the job you want to apply for. Don't give the impressive stuff unless it's relevant, & play it down if you feel you should.

Under education (towards the end of the cv), give the qualification level that they're asking for. By omitting the Masters etc, you're not lying, it's just not relevant to include it for that job...

Good luck!

titchy Fri 07-Feb-14 12:53:01

Can you go for maternity covers? They seem to be the hardest to fill, and you can say you want a temp role to get into the swing of the country blah blah blah.

FWIW I think emphasising your need for worklife balance is fine and doesn;t come across as you thinking a job is beneath you.

vvviola Wed 12-Feb-14 03:44:38

I've got a meeting next week with a temping agency (although current references may be an issue). It's not ideal, but a few longer temping jobs might be what it takes to get me into something a bit longer term.

vaseoftulips Wed 12-Feb-14 20:21:51

I'm a PA and there are fewer Administrators and PAs than ever. Companies just don't seem to value them and are expecting staff to organise themselves. It then falls on us to dig them out of holes when they cock up (which happens all the time).

Believe me, you will need the patience of a saint because you will realise that the most intelligent people in the organisation are actually as thick as two short planks and business travel agents do not understand the difference between the words amend and cancel. I seem to spend most of my time checking other people's work and asking them to amend it because they have made a mistake. You get my drift...

vaseoftulips Wed 12-Feb-14 20:23:34

What I meant to say was...

I'm not sure 'nice little admin jobs' exist anymore.

vvviola Wed 12-Feb-14 20:33:17

Oh yes, vaseoftulips, I get that! I'm certainly not expecting an easy ride in a job or that it will be easy. It's just that I can't do what I'm qualified to do/experienced at, and re-qualifying as something else isn't an option right now. So admin is my only option really, seeing as I do have some experience in the area (just not recent or explicitly spelt out as such).

Having been dug out of a few holes by various administrators over the years, I'm well aware of how difficult and important the job is!

vaseoftulips Wed 12-Feb-14 21:49:46

I think the problem you're going to come up against at the moment is that there are fewer admin jobs around and more people going after them.

So... the people getting the jobs will have recent experience and tick all the boxes for the recruiters.

I would advise anyone to do anything other than admin these days. It is a one way road to nowhere because if you're good, no one will ever want you to do anything else because you are the lynchpin of the team.

Sorry, had a particularly bad day!!!

Mojang Wed 12-Feb-14 21:58:53

I did it. I made a big thing on my CV about how stepping back had been a deliberate move to allow me to become more involved in the community and do some voluntary work in specific fields (a little bit) relevant to the new job

I got the first job I applied for, on approx. 1/3 of the salary of the one I'd left 3 months previously. That was a good thing, honestly hmm

All my qualifications were still there and they even asked what my previous salary had been on the appln form but they still interviewed me (and 10 others) At the interview I had to explain why they should think I would stay rather than leave as soon as a better opportunity came up. I was very well prepared for that question along the lines above.

Dilidali Wed 12-Feb-14 21:59:46

Networking? Go out there and meet people and sell your skills? And then network some more? Attend every party/event going? Volunteering? Library for some books on interview techniques, cv writing etc?

You've worked so hard finishing your masters, don't get disheartened now!
Fingers crossed for you at the interview. smile

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