What overqualified really means

Okay, if you have been searching for a job long enough chances are you will hear this dreaded phrase, “Sorry, but you’re overqualified for the position.”

Sure on one hand it is a compliment that someone thinks you are too good to be working for them, but on the other hand you still have to eat and being overqualified is not putting food on the table.

In case the term “overqualified” has been an enigma wrapped up in a mystery for you, let me tell you what employers really mean when they throw that word around.

Let the demystification begin… (Insert the sounds of monks chanting here)

  • You’ll be harder to get rid of if things don’t work out because of discrimination issues. Gee, its difficult to get more blunt and to the point than that. A lot of times, it all comes down to prevention. On down the road if the powers that be want to use their mighty axe in cutting jobs, it is to their advantage to let you go in favor of someone cheaper and umm… more easily bossed. Of course there are certain agencies such as the EEOC that would have a field day with this, so why even create a minefield to step into later?
  • You’re going to drop them as soon as a better job comes along and no employer wants to get somebody “broken in” only for him or her to leave in a short period of time and go through the process all over again. (If you are single and looking to get married, you may be able to identify with this one better than the previous example.)
  • With your experience, no doubt you would be an expensive hire and they are not trying to spend any money, especially on your paycheck. If it’s not your paycheck, then raises designed to get you back to the compensation you are accustomed to or even sick leave.
  • You’ve been there and done that and you’re going to get bored with the job as it is beneath your talents. Not only will that make it hard to motivate you, but also you might become something like an apathetic virus infecting the rest of the crew.

Dealing with these issues and fears will take a great deal of tact and care, but remember that you have the upper hand; you just have to convince them of that.

Tell them how much money your experience will save them and give examples where you improved profit margins and business processes. Point out that you are looking for a “home” and not a “job” and that you believe in what they are doing so much that you are willing to take a cut. Stress how much of a team player you are and how that as an “overqualified” worker you overwork to get the job done, something exemplified in your resume, references and letters of recommendation.

Like anything else it is a sales pitch

But at least by addressing the four issues mentioned above, you can muster a good defense with a strong first striking offense.

Get ready to rumble!!!!!!!!

Whoops, sorry, forgot myself there…. Next topic please.

I Can’t Hire You if I can’t Find You

If I wanted to hire you, could I find you?

If I looked on Monster, CareerBuilder and HotJobs, perhaps I could; but what if I did not look there, or on any other job board for that matter?

Here is an ugly little truth that jobseekers do not think about.
When a company posts a job description on Monster or searches its database for resumes, it costs money. So, you know what happens? Large companies look for free resumes on the web to save the money they would have spent on job boards and smaller companies that do not have accounts with these job boards, look on the web to find free resumes.

The bottom line is that if your resume is not online, you are doing yourself a disservice.
If you search the web for “free web hosting,” I dare say that you will find plenty of resources for posting your resume (or any other content) online for free.

To be sure, positioning your resume where all recruiters will have free access to it is imperative, yet that is only part of a winning strategy.
Recruiters look for resumes using a series of specialized searches called “searchstrings.” Searchstrings are based on keywords that the Recruiter thinks would be on your resume. For example, a Recruiter looking for a Programmer in Atlanta might visit Google and enter the following searchstring:

intitle:resume programmer education atlanta | GA 678 | 770 | 404 -submit -apply ext:doc | ext:pdf

To explain the searchstring above,
I am looking for documents formatted in Word or PDF that have “resume” as a title with the keywords “programmer” and “education” mentioned in the document. I am also looking for the words Atlanta or GA as that is the preferred location. Furthermore, I added area codes specific to the Atlanta area as well. Why? Candidates often list their phone numbers on their resumes. To see the results of the search above, please visit: http://tinyurl.com/6b23h4 and you will be redirected to a Google search results page.

Now that you know how Recruiters search the web for resumes, why not make it easy for them to find you?
I suggest that you create a Resume Profile page in lieu of a cover letter. What is that? A Resume Profile page is a keyword list a Recruiter can scan to get a quick understanding of what you have to offer. When I was looking for work in 2002, I created an HTML version of my Resume Profile page and placed it online. Today, I am still being contacted by Recruiters who have found my Resume Profile from a Google search.

(See it for yourself: http://jimstroud.com/resume.htm )

The moral of the story is simply this, if you position yourself to be “found,” you will not have look so much. (Smile)

How to prospect the hidden job market

Okay, let’s get this blog post going with a simple multiple-choice question.

When picking up a newspaper, you search for jobs in:

A) The Classifieds Section (Want-ads)
B) The Business Section
C) The Front Page
D) The Entire Paper

The correct answer is… E, all of the above.
Okay, so maybe I did not list an “E” as a selection, but that was because I wanted you to think about it. The first answer was probably the most obvious answer to most of us, but was it the only answer? Was there another way of judging the question? If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, would anyone even care? Probably not, but I digress…

Everyone goes to the classifieds when looking for a job.
It is a necessary step (didn’t I already say that in chapter one?), but only the beginning. Keep in mind that these are the jobs EVERYONE else is looking at as well. I suggest that you put your major focus on every other section of the paper that reports real news (failed celebrity marriages obviously would not apply), and in particular business news; primarily because that is where the real jobs are!

Let me give you an example of what I mean.
I pick up a paper and I flip through the business section of The Atlanta Journal & Constitution. I notice an article about some company in Alpharetta that just closed a deal on a new facility, where construction will begin in one month. One person may look at that and say, yeah, whatever… but I would look at that in several ways;

“New facility” implies:

  • some construction workers will be needed
  • electricians
  • eventually some LAN/WAN networking will need to be done
  • interior design so the office would look nice
  • expensive pictures on the wall to impress perspective clients
  • lots of computers will be needed for the workers to do their work on
  • phones would be needed
  • who is going to manage those people?
  • who will manage the managers of those people?
  • and of course the obvious for me, a new facility means new workers will be needed, so I better hit them up early before the other recruiters catch wind of this as well!

So, from that one article, there are at least 10 jobs
that have not been announced or even written up yet.

So by acting early, I could call and find out who is in charge of that facility, who is in charge of hiring for that facility and proactively send my resume in. This way, I could be the first-in-line for a position, before a job description is even conceived or written. And why would a company even write a job description if your resume is already there and you are a perfect fit for their need?

Here’s another example:
I read an article about a charity function where the purpose is to promote technology to high school students. (For those who feel charity begins and stays in the home, a big “I gave at the office” expression may appear on your face). But you could be missing out on an opportunity. Reading deeper into the article, it is discovered that Earthlink is one of the major sponsors and so is Coca-Cola. Hmm… those are some big companies that hire in big numbers, when they do hire.  Hmm… might be worth a visit to their kick-off party. It might also be worth it to volunteer a few hours here and there as it may get you closer to an executive with pull within the corporation, or at the least another name that you can call on. What’s the worse that could happen in volunteering for a charity? You help somebody in need, besides yourself. (Ahhhh… I just want to hug myself for that one.)

How to embed your voice inside of a resume

I really wish I could take full credit for this, but truth be told, this strategy is a knock-off of an idea I picked up from Eric Jaquith. (If you were among the fortunate few who attented SourceCon 2007, then you know what a whiz he is.) The idea is from the viewpoint of Recruiters, but I think jobseekers can see the potential in this strategy as well.  In a nutshell, one can add an audio clip to a resume as a way of promoting a candidate to a potential employer.

To demonstrate this, I have addded an audio clip to an outdated version of my resume and am availing it to you (again) for demonstration purposes only.  So without further adieu, click here to download my resume and see this trick in action.  (Be sure to double-click on the speaker icon and turn your speakers up.) But I digress…

How to embed your voice inside of a resume

Let’s imagine that you are a TPR (Third Party Recruiter) or a Corporate Recruiter or a Retained Searchfirm, or whatever and you are SOOOO excited about a particular candidate that you will just bust if the hiring manager does not review the resume. However, the Hiring Manager is very, very busy and does not have the luxury of time to look at the resumes he asked you to produce, much less listen to all of the reasons why they should interview your candidate right away. So what do you do? Well, you might want to try embedding a voice message into the resume you send in; that way they can hear your excitement and pay closer attention to the document that were planning to quickly scan over.

“So Jim,” you say, “That sounds interesting, but I don’t know how to do that.”

“No worries, all you need is a copy of Microsoft Word and a microphone,” I reply, “Let me show you how to do it.”


1. Make sure you have a microphone that works with your computer. No biggie, as you can pick one up at Wallmart for $10.00 (more or less).

2. Open up a new Word document

How to embed your voice inside of a resume

3. Pull down the Insert Menu and click on: “Object”

How to embed your voice inside of a resume

4. From the Object window scroll down to “Wave Sound.”

How to embed your voice inside of a resume

5. Highlight “Wave Sound” and click “Okay.”

6. A little window that looks like a tape recorder pops up.

How to embed your voice inside of a resume

7. Click on the red dot button and begin recording your message. By default you get sixty seconds, but if you stop the recording before it gets to the very end and start recording again, you get sixty more seconds.

8. Once you’re done recording, close out that window.

9. Like magic, a speaker icon appears in your Word document.

How to embed your voice inside of a resume

10. To play back the sound file, simply double-click on the speaker icon.

11. Add a message next to the speaker to remind the reader that an audio message is embedded. (You might also want to mention that they should be sure to have their speakers on.)

How to embed your voice inside of a resume

And that’s it! Pretty cool huh? *(Now I started this demo with a blank document and then I cut and pasted my resume in, but that does not matter as the resume could have been there the whole time.) I would very much like to hear your comments on this and (even better) solicit your testimonials on how this strategy has worked for you. If you would, simply leave a comment below. And again, to see a working demo of this: Click here to download my resume, double-click on the speaker icon and turn your speakers up.

Good luck!

-Jim Stroud

Jobseekers! Seek smoke! Not fire!

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always received,” said some wise person.
This is certainly true when it comes to job-hunting, especially during a “sucky” economy. How many times have you applied to a job on Monster.com? Now ask yourself, “How many other people have applied for the same position?” The numbers are discouraging I assure you.

Should this keep you from applying to jobs online? By no means!
Job boards are a necessary part of the process. However, if you limit your job search to seeking only those jobs that you are qualified for then you are making a mistake. Am I suggesting that you do a “shotgun” effect with your resume and apply to as many jobs as you can hoping that by some miraculous twist of fate you catch a recruiter’s eye?

No… and yes, in a way…

Let’s put on our imagination cap for a minute and think of a horrific fire in a subdivision at the peak of rush-hour traffic. What is your immediate focus? The fire blazing bright? Sure… Are you concerned for the people in the subdivision? I hope so…

“Now breathe deeply and concentrate,” I say in my Yoda voice. “See more, you will, young Jedi.”

Could it be that you see smoke? Could it be that you hear a fire engine? Then, perhaps a helicopter with a reporter giving the TV viewers a scoop on what is happening? Perhaps there is another chopper for radio listeners? Perhaps in the distance are people who don’t know about the fire yet and are honking their horns and cursing the 5 o’clock commute? Perhaps all of this and more? Now, why are they all there? Well, duh… they are all there because of a fire.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, “What does all that have to do with my getting a job?”

“Everything,” I say smugly.

Let’s say that you are looking for a job as a network engineer.
So what do you do? You look for Network Engineer jobs, which is a good start but not the finish. Consider the events and surroundings concerning your job and imagine what surrounds that job. Let’s see… to network computers, there must be a group of unconnected computers somewhere. For a group of unconnected computers to be sitting somewhere, that would mean that some salesperson had to sell them to somebody else.

So, who sells the computers that I am qualified to connect? Why “Computer Company A” sells the kind of computers I am qualified to connect. Why don’t I call Computer Company A and ask for a friendly sales person? Perhaps with my powers of persuasion (and a little bribery of lunch), I can get him to tell me who his best customers are. I bet his best customers could use a network engineer to hook up all the machines they just bought!

You like that? Let’s go deeper…

New computers being connected suggest new office space.
If I was going to buy new office space, who would I go to?

  • Maybe I can call the leasing office of some business complexes and ask who handles their leasing.
  • Maybe they can refer me to someone?
  • Maybe they lease their own space and will give me a tip on companies looking to move into their space, a possibility…
  • Better yet, I could pick up a copy of “The Atlanta Business Chronicle” (assuming you are in Atlanta) and review their real estate announcements to see who bought what.

Whoever is buying lots of office space is someone I would want to talk to.

Do I have your wheels rotating yet?

The trick is not to look only for the fire (in this case, a network engineering job), but the smoke. (those people who operate on the periphery of that job).

Let me go a step even further. What happens after a fire has been put out?
There is water damage, smoke damage, and medical issues on occasion and so on. There has to be someone or some group of some ones to clean up the mess left behind. All that to say, as soon as one person gets hired somewhere, there is a possibility of an opening behind them. So, when you read in the paper about Company X has just signed on a new CIO formerly of Company Z, my advice is to call Company Z for a job.

This is an especially good technique if you are an Executive, because many senior management types foster a “cult following” and bring other execs with them. (Happens all the time…)

Does this go for executives only? No, this would be a good heads up for techies and marketing types as well.


New leadership means new processes and new processes often demand people to adapt or stand aside for new personnel who can.

“Now let’s go deeper into the force,” I say in a bad Darth Vader accent.
And imagine that you cannot imagine other positions that are connected to the job you are qualified for. Imagine that you are just clueless on how to think along these lines. (Anybody can draw a blank…)

For these folks I say, look for the recruiter jobs. If you see a company looking to hire Recruiters, Staffing Consultants, Internet Researchers (people who support recruiters by finding resumes online) or Online Sourcers (same thing as Internet Researcher), then that should sound like a cowbell at dinner time.

If you are thinking to yourself, “Why should I care about HR jobs? That’s not my background.”
I suggest that you slap yourself.

Why would a company hire recruiters?
They hire recruiters because they are about to load up on new employees! What kind of employees? Well, look at the kind of recruiter they want! Are they hiring Technical Recruiters? Sales Recruiters? Executive Recruiters? Ahh… I see the light bulb has just flashed over your head, you’re with me now. (Glad to meet you-wink).

There is an old joke by a comedian named Robin Harris that says,

“If you cannot get to the man, get next to the man that is next to the man, and if you can’t get him, Get next to the man that is next to the man that is next to the man and so on…”

If you are feeling frustrated in your job-search, look beyond finding jobs that fit you, but rather seek out people connected to what you do. If you cannot connect with them, then connect with the person next to them and so on and so on and so on…