I graduated from college and got a position in the accounts payable area of Fiscal Services for a Community College. I have been here for almost 8 years now. I decided in 2011 to go back to school while working to get an MBA. I graduated at the end of 2013.

Since this is an educational environment, everyone was supportive including my supervisor. Once I started my MBA program I was immediately treated very poorly. She gave me the worst projects and loaded more and more work on me until I was doing significantly more than my department colleagues.

Then the Director retires and through some miracle (my supervisor was not a good supervisor, she can't maintain relationships for longer than about a year, and unknowingly did nearly everything possible to destroy morale and motivation) my supervisor gets the promotion. When it comes to filling her position she chose someone who "needed" the additional money (he had a family and lived with his parents with his children and spouse, but belonged to the same religion as my supervisor). He is just as bad as my old supervisor. He has told me in private meetings about my religious beliefs that were disgusting and unacceptable. (no competent supervisor would do something like that).

So I realize I'm getting held down for some non-career reason. I'm smart, I'm well liked, I have a great attitude, I've been nominated for the annual employee of the year award more times than anyone in the 100 person division (3 times in my first 6 years).

I know I need to leave, I want out of government because many projects I have done have saved the college hundreds of thousands of dollars annually and no one in the "chain of management" acknowledges that I did it. I have significant evidence that my first supervisor is intimidated by me and does her best to dismiss all of my accomplishments.

Since I have been in accounts payable I reached out to one of my contacts at a vendor we use. I got an interview with the CFO of her company for a staff accountant position. He met with me and basically told me that based on my accomplishments he didn't think I was an accounting person (I'm not, I have a business degree and an MBA).

This CFO told me based on my resume that I should be making double what his position was paying.

The problem is that I have too much experience and education to get an entry level position and only experience in government (that most companies don't take seriously) and not enough experience in any specific position to get a management position.

I feel like this leaves me unemployable. I'm smart, motivated, work hard and get great results, and I get along with everyone but I feel completely unemployable.

Atypical IT Guy's picture

Job hunts take months.

I recently moved cities due to a job opportunity for my Wife, I was out of work for about 7 months. I was in a similar position in that I have 12+ years experience in my field with much of that experience being in supervisory, peer leader, and management roles all in academic institutions. I knew that I wanted to continue working at a academic institution so I narrowed my hunt down to just post secondary institutions. I was beaten out of several positions by people that have had more direct experience that related to that particular position. But each time the hiring manage approached me and told me that it wasn't because I was unqualified (much like the CFO told you) it was that someone just a little stronger was in the pool.

One of these managers liked me so much that they approached others in the organization about me, and it was through this that I got the connection that got me the job I am currently in. It is a more entry level that I wanted, but I am in the door. In the interview my manager actually asked me if I thought that the job was going to be too basic for me. I told him directly that I wanted to be in management (he knew this already) but I love this type of work and I am great at it. I also told him that I would come into it looking to make a name for myself so that in a years time (I am on a one year contract) I can hopefully move up.

If you think that being over qualified is going to be a issue, address it in your cover letter and again in the interview. If you are overqualified that you must first meet the requirements to be qualified. The main concern most people have with hiring some who is over qualified is that they will leave as soon as they find another gig, make sure that they know you are in it for the long haul.

After 7 months of being out of work, I can feel your frustration. Keep at it, you will find something better.

techmgr's picture
Training Badge

Hi there. Are you overqualified for a spefic type of job? perhaps. I second the advice above from chealey. Also there's a manager tools podcast about hiring overqualified people that would help you anticipate and address the concerns the employer might have about hiring you.

That said, I think your perspective on what you believe the problem is can be adjusted a bit. Are you really overqualified?

If you've only been working for 8 years you are not over-qualified for much. Take an entry level job in another industry or field if that's what it takes to build your career. I switched careers in my thirties, and it required taking an entry level job for 25k a year. It paid off. The MBA should get your foot in the door, plus the excellent references I assume you must have from your 8 years of stellar performance. Get an entry-level business job. Forget about the CFO advice of what you "should" be making. Figure out the minimum salary you need. And listen to the podcasts about changing industries, and how to decide on what companies to work for. 

Also, how do you know that companies don't take your gov work seriously? (I'm not sure why you call working at a community college gov work). Cost reduction is serious business, it's a fantastic achievement to have on your resume. Perhaps your resume just isn't very good. Are all those "extra projects" you were given highlighted on your resume? Buy the manager tools resume handbook. Rework the resume. Make sure you are tailoring your resume for the specific application. And the same goes for your cover letter. And broaden your search. Hope this helps.

Svet.'s picture

 I think the truth is in between and you have your qualities which are a good base and actually hard to find in an employee nowadays. I don't think you are overqualified but you will need to find a working place which will develop your capabilities further in a way which will be constructive for both you and the company. I agree that the salary is not the most important while it counts. It's important to keep learning in an environment which allows for that, you can't do it alone even with best effort. 

 My 2 cents.



kevin_cross's picture

I purchased the Manger-Tools interviewing series and followed the resume guidelines perfectly. I actually get many comments on how good my resume is. 

I spoke to a friend who is an executive at a local company. He told me that if anyone knew me like he does, nearly anyone would hire me. He showed my resume to his boss (a C-level executive) and their response was, "but what does he do?" Indicating my responsibilities are low level and not relevant to any job that two executives would be doing the hiring for and I don't have a specialty.

I think that response was a result of my position being "accounts payable" but my accomplishments list designing and implementing an information system that saved the school over $100k annually. There's not really a linkbetween my regular responsibilities and my accomplishments. The reason for this is because the only real accounts payable accomplishments are along the lines of paying bills on time and frankly, those are less impressive than my other accomplishments.

I think I get told I'm overqualified because I list accomplishments that should be goals of people several levels up. At my school, a person 3 levels up from me is in charge of "organizational advancement" (he'd normally be in charge of new systems to make the department more efficient). I was told last week that I could do half of the CFOs work and that makes me overqualified.


Svet.'s picture

Hi kevin_cross,

If so the problem is in you - you should never exaggerate in your resume. I have seen people exaggerating vastly their skills and previous experience on resumes - it is never a good idea. Better have genuine lower level than fake higher level accomplishments. I have seen several people shamelessly exaggerating - they cannot deliver results in the long term. "Fake it untill you make it" is a very wrong advice in my humble opinion and having all the buzzwords on resume without being able to apply in practice and deliver results is useless.



kevin_cross's picture

Hi Svet,

I agree that resumes shouldn't be lies. The problem I laid out is that the "responsibility" of improvements belong to someone three levels up (director level), but I (I acutally did this) identified a bottleneck and implemented a solution that reduced the labor required to operate mydepartment by 34% (over $100,000 annually). The project also greatly improved reporting and information to management regarding department performance.

I actually did this project.

I identified the problem and an acceptable solution. I presented it to my boss. My boss said to move ahead with the project. She didn't really understand the purpose or what the project was actually capable of (because govt workers don't understand anything about organizational growth). I truly believe I was given the go-ahead on this project even though my boss had no understanding of the benefit of the project but thought we should use the computer instead of manual invoice tracking because of what year it was (She was heard (by me) saying, "it is 2013" indicating she didn't understand why such a project was valuable). I went on with the project and eventually created a system that reports more information than the management could have imagined and often doesn't know how to interpret or use for any useful purpose

I took on a project that I loved doing and enjoyed that has had a significant impact on the department. Normally this project wouldn't happen at my level. It is a project that would come from the Director level or higher.

I actually did every single project on my resume. My regular responsibilities are boring so I took on as many extra projects as possible. As a result, I have a low level job with a lot of high level projects that all had positive results.


techmgr's picture
Training Badge

Please re-read the advice you've been given. You have worked in one place - your perspective is limited. Just because you delivered on projects that you believe at your company were "director level" doesn't mean other companies see it that way. There are many individual contributors reporting to managers in this world who reduce bottlenecks and automate tasks that save their company money. You took on challenges and got things done. Well done. But you've convinced yourself that you are seen as overqualified based on very limited feedback.

Getting compliments on your resume means nothing if you aren't getting job offers. What jobs have you applied for? Why are you asking c-level executives for jobs? Are you expecting them to find VP positions for you? The fact that they asked "but what does he do?" means that your resume isn't all that great. 

Im not sure at this point what problem you are trying to solve. You seem to be insisting on a problem that might not exist. My advice is stop the feedback loop in your head and get real feedback by applying to several dozen jobs, making sure that plenty of them are at the same level that are currently working, plenty are entry-level positions in a different field. And apply for jobs just one level above where you are currently working. Don't assume that you are overqualified. Only 8 years of work experience at one place will make you plenty under qualified for most jobs. Find something that is a match for your actual experience in years and tasks and skills. 

And I say this to help - your posts are full of put-downs about the people youve worked with. Get that out of your system and make sure that none of it comes through in your cover letter, resume or interviews. Declaring that all government workers don't understand organizational growth is good example of exactly what not to say. 

kevin_cross's picture

Hi Techmgr,

It looks like there may have been some miscommunication due to the nature of text conversation. I wasn't describing the project i worked on as a "director level" project. I was describing who has "process improvement" next to his name in the company directory. Where I work, this is the director of my department.

I think your statement about compliments on my resume is off topic. You're saying it should get me jobs. I don't believe that is the case. My resume is to get me interviews, it does that and I get positive feedback on it, I'm not seeing a problem here.

I have never personally asked a C-level executive for a job. I have however had friends and colleagues suggest I apply for a job at their company. I apply and end up in interviews with C-level executives. Regarding C-level executives, I have seen dozens of companies with over 500 (some up to about 1100) employees where VPs and C-level executives are involved with front line hires (I'm not saying I think that's the best way to do things or that I agree with it, but that's the fact).

My experience isn't as a single thing (accountant, programmer, etc). I worked in accounting but did projects to implement information systems and improve reporting, this says I'm not an "accounting person" (I've heard that one a lot). I have a broad range of experience and as a result I can solve problems that often no one in my departament or area can solve. I think that one person doesn't see things the same way. This isn't a sign that my resume isn't good, I think it's a sign that that person doesn't value a broad range of experience.

Put-downs - I phrased my comment about government workers not knowing about organizational growth incorrectly. I meant to say, management where I work don't understand the concept of organizational growth. I realize this may sound like a put-down but I only intend it to be a favorable assessment of the skill of managment where I work.

Svet.'s picture

My 2 cents are that managing organisation growth is a very big task and there are many problems around it. The challenges in front of management are huge. I think employees should give contribution and report what seems not well and leave it there. Whether or not this is welcome depends on the type of the organisation management aims to build.

kevin_cross's picture

Hi Svet,

I agree that managing organizational growth is huge.

I understand why you'd say to report and leave the solutions up to management but I don't agree with your thoughts on arbitrarily limiting the role of individual contributors. Managerial economics says that everything should be done by the lowest level person it can adequately be done by. Meaning a front line employee should be doing the hardest or most complex work they are able to do. If an employee understands what the goals of the organization are and knows how to meet those goals, they shouldn't "waste" talent.

The other point I'd like to stress is that I got approval from my supervisor before doing anything on the project. Management thinks the system is great, and they love what it's done for our organization. If they hadn't thought the results were acceptable, they could have stopped the project part way through or simply reverted back to the process we used before the system existed.