July 28, 2006

What makes someone unemployable? Is it just the complacencies of the businesses, uncaring to whom they are giving hiring preference? The inferred answer seems to be more often than not that the potential employee is “over-qualified.”

Just whose decision should it be that the job you are applying to do is too menial for you the guy behind the desk, with the power to hire and fire, secure in his job position?-Or the person who needs a job so badly they can’t afford not take whatever work they can get!

The reason I am concerned about this is my mother is currently in this position. She left her previous employment under duress from unreasonable management and has been unable to find new employment. Not only can she not get someone to give her a job, it seems that interviews are off limits too!

Now, let me explain something to you. My mother is not your average, hum-drum, moron looking to stack shelves and make a few quid to pay for drinks on Friday night. However, she is willing to stack shelves to make the money she needs to survive. The truth of the matter is my mother returned to college at forty years old to study child development. She earned the qualification, Associate of Arts, this is a highly respected degree in American education, but she didn’t simply graduate, she graduated Summa Cum Laude!

At this point you are probably wondering what makes this person so unemployable – A bad CV presentation, poor employment history? The answer to both of those questions is a bold no. Her employment history is flawless, my mother has run her own business and worked as a supervisor in a busy, over-demanding, underpaying post office, and yes she has even stacked shelves at a supermarket. She always writes sophisticated covering letters to accompany her CV when she applies for the various positions. We have speculated that my mother’s gaps in employment history due to her staying home and raising a family have influenced potential employers’ negativity. This should be simply the opposite as her commitment to family shows reliability, respect and most of all the ability to undertake the greatest responsibility of all.

So why is my mom unemployable everywhere she applies? Why doesn’t she even get an interview?

With the characteristics that I have outlined above she would be nothing more than an asset in any department in business! A visit to the job centre leaves my mother feeling like an under-achieving, borderline criminal, due to their “friendly” atmosphere.

What’s wrong with this picture? So tell me again, who’s unemployable?

I am frustrated and worried about this situation – Who can actually help us?

-A Concerned Son…



10 Responses to “Unemployable?”

  1. PJ Blue Says:

    I have been in this situation a few times myself. The only real answer is for your mom to employ herself or form a business with like-minded people.

  2. The Rooster Says:

    It still seems a little stupid that you have someone that will do ANYTHING that is not allowed to do something. I have known people in this position as well and it does not seem logical, when you have no-hopers out there that don’t want to work and knock back job offers.

    Here is Australia, you loose your unemployment benefits if you knock a job back. Now there is some logic.

    Seb I hear you mate and you have confered it well.

  3. Kate Says:

    I spent the past three years in precisely the same situation as your mom. I have a resume with 35 years in music and television production and apparently I’m too bloody overqualified to even get an interview. Here is what overqualified often means: It means we are older than the interviewer, or the people we will be responsible to, and they fear our experience in a host of ways. Sometimes they just plain aren’t secure enough to have an older person subordinate to them – they feel we may patronize them or just not take them seriously. Perhaps they are afraid we will correct them or have suggestions that will make them look bad or feel insecure. It also may mean, especially in a twenty-something environment, that they don’t want anyone with a potentially parental vibe judging them or even being around to ‘bring them down’. I finally found several people thrilled to utilize my experience, but I damn near starved to death while sending thousands of resumes to agencies, companies, etc., and networking relentlessly. The only hope is starting your own business or selling your own services freelance while you keep making as many contacts as humanly possible. Unfortunately, I not only have dozens of friends in this situation – people who have had terrific careers now considered unemployable – but I will never ever feel secure again. I will never trust where the next check is coming from again. It is a truly obnoxious way to live. It should be really entertaining when the idiots in Washington raise the retirement age to 70, but no one over 45 can get work.

  4. Ike Says:

    I too have been in the same situation. Made reduntant (together will all my colleagues) at the age of 50 and well qualified.

    Am I too old? Is it my Cancer history?
    After 6 months I had the choice to go to Social Security or to start my onw business. A business was the obvious choice which I haven’t regret for a second although my current income is – still- not much more then SC level. But I will get there, I am not going to make myself redundant! Now I am the boss 🙂
    The third option, any job, was just not available. Why? I am still as puzzled as your Mum.

    But with her positive attitude someone, sometime, will notice her. I wish her all the luck in the world.

  5. Thank you for your comments! We have certainly enjoyed reading them. Thankfully my mom has two interviews this week, so things might not be as horrible as we thought they were.

    I hope the newspaper still runs this story, I think it speaks for a fair few people in our community. The more people who are able to get something out of reading it, the better. If anyone wants to place the letter on their blogs for others to read, you are quite welcome to.

    To new readers: Continue to comment as you find this article, I will continue to respond to emails I get regarding this article.

  6. Randy Says:

    Bravo for Kate and her comments!

    I don’t interview well at all these days simply because I refuse to acquiesce to a “human resource” manager. I make it clear that my “humanity” is of far greater concern to me–and should be to their company–than is my perceived value as a “resource.” Put bluntly: Job interviews are patronizing, condescending, insulting, and generally conducted by someone whom I would never, ever employ if the situation was reversed. And I’m certain they can sense that from me just as I sense their complete ambivilence to my situation.

    I knew I should’ve taken “Sycophant 101.”

  7. Tim Says:

    Ironiclly my Mom, and alot of the older members of my family have this problem.

    My mom is currently a clerk at a shipping, and manufacturing company, and is close to getting layed off because of economical issues here in North Carolina(US.) She also had a career in retail merchandising for 6 years, as well as alot of other long term career references.

    My uncle was a forest ranger for close to 30 years, and is now in entry level construction which amazes me.

    I even have these problem’s at 23, but I don’t exactly have career expierience, or a 4 year degree(yet.) I usually work through temp company’s doing plant production to pay my way through school.

    Here in the US laborer work, and blue collar work is demolishing do to outsourcing, and poor managment by CEO’s.

  8. sal Says:

    sal 1, 17, 07
    i am in the same boat .i cant even get a damn job washing dishes companies look at me like im garbage. oh sure i go on interviews after words i get the we’ll call you crap!
    my issue is to do with gabs in work history. no one wants to take a change with me
    what is left is to just tell them all to go to hell and start a busness of our ourselves. here in america i have to compete with illgals for cooking and dishwasher jobs.gawd they cant even speak english.

  9. I’ve had the same issues getting a job in the past.

    I’m a radio broadcaster with a some expierience(2 to 3 years, FULLTIME). I’m not the best presenter in the world, but I sure know alot about the business and can hold my own.

    For example… I applied for a Part Time job at a Small station in an unrated US Market. I didn’t get it, but someone with not even a 1 year PART TIME expierience got the job. After about 6 months on that job, this person got a FULL TIME job in a MAJOR market. What gives there?

    It seems when I don’t have a radio job, it’s hella hard to find one. Yet, when I’ve got a radio job.. I seem to have an easier time of it.

  10. Jeff Says:

    I think a whole web site should be dedicated to this subject. It seems that the older, more educated and more experienced I become the less employable I am.

    I graduated cum laude from college, with honors from a prestigious business school and have earned a law degree. I have 15 years experience as a management consultant, software consultant, project manager, business analyst, European sales manager and senior corporate manager. I also have 8 years experience running my own legal support business. Although self-employed part time right now, I have sent out over 1500 resumes in the past three years and have only obtained 3 or 4 serious unsuccessful interviews.

    After graduating from law school (and not passing the BAR) I sent out over 4,000 resumes and finally settled for a very low paying job because I could not obtain an interview for a “real” job.

    I know you must being thinking there is something wrong with my resume but I have had my resume analyzed my numerous consultants and they state that my resume is state of the art.

    Obviously when I apply for low level “survival” jobs I’m rejected because I’m over qualified but when I apply for jobs more suitable to my education and experience I am also told I’m over qualified. If you had cancer; is there any doctor that would be too over qualified to operate on you? I don’t believe anyone can be over qualified for a job.

    I think it comes down to two things. First the old adage that “It’s not what you know but who you know” and second I know for a fact that I have not been hired for several jobs because the person I would be working for was afraid I would out perform them and take their job (and their right).

    I truly empathize with your mother because I’ve gone through the same situation several times in my life. The best advice I can give is “NEVER GIVE UP”.

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