How to get hired when you’re overqualified

Q. I have a doctorate in molecular biology. I was laid off this summer. I know I’m overqualified, but I’m applying to hourly retail jobs for the holidays. No one is contacting me — this is beyond frustrating. Again, I am overqualified. How can I get hired just to have this part-time gig as I look for my full-time one?

A. I’m sorry to hear about getting laid off. I hear your frustration and am here to support you. First, you are doing all the right things.

I would kick it old school and go into stores where you’re applying. Ask to speak to the manager and demonstrate passion for their store and products. Also, talk about your transferable skill sets that will translate well into these seasonal jobs. Soft skills are key such as communication skills, your work ethic, and punctuality and reliability.

Companies are hiring and need workers like you who are ready to go, diligent and ready to be trained and available to start working ASAP.

According to Reuters, Target is set to hire 100,000 workers and offer store discounts as early as now! According to another Reuters piece, Macy’s is set to hire 38,000 full and part-time workers and Amazon announced 250,000! Considering those are just three employers, there are many more possibilities.

One of the main aspects to keep front and center during your search is to remain positive. Employers need to find you. You are doing all the right things — keep going!

Q. I graduated in May, but hate my new job. I started in August. Is it too soon to start looking for a new one — will it look bad if I leave?

A. If you asked me this before the pandemic, I would have advised you to stay for at least two years to avoid looking like a job hopper. (Someone who bounces from job to job was a red flag to employers for the time spent hiring and training them. They’d like to think the new hire will stick around for a while.)

Ask me now and I say go for it. Your resume is still polished, your interview skills are probably still sharp. Depending upon the next job you end up landing, it could even be after the holidays, at which point you will have been at your current employer for several months anyway. My advice is to not leap into a new job just as a fast exit from your current one — you may find yourself in a similar situation.

I have additional questions though before you immediately jump ship: How do you plan on articulating why you’re looking to leave to prospective new employers? Is the job completely different from the job description? Is it a toxic, unhealthy environment? Did any of these red flags emerge, even ever-so-slightly, during the interview process?

I would do some introspection, not only to how you will speak about this current situation to future employers as you don’t want to badmouth your current employer but more significantly, why are you looking to leave?

So, yes you can start looking for a new job at any point, even now, but I would take time to identify what is driving you to leave to see if it can improve, and if not, identify that as something to explore and pay attention to on future interviews.

Tribune News Service

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