I recently attended a Job Fair on behalf of Recruitment-Guru.com and got to talk to about 200+ attendees, and the message I received from the majority of them was Unemployable Me. This got me thinking. Why do individuals own the Unemployable Me label? Two primary factors were apparent, although there were others such as:

  • Their appearance
  • Their attitude
  • Their lack of enthusiasm

The first notable prime factor was:

The Over-Qualified Unemployable Me

If you are over 50 and you are a job seeker, you may have faced one of the most frustrating aspects of looking for work: being told that you are overqualified for the position. Recruiters and Employers use this ploy as a common excuse to overlook mature applicants in favour of their younger counterparts.

The reason is that Recruiters and Employers consider older workers to be:

  • Lacking energy and drive; just putting in time until they retire,
  • Reluctant to report to a younger or less qualified boss
  • Using the position as an interim step until something better comes along.

If you are an Unemployable Me and have run into the overqualified objection, here are 4 ways you can address this obstacle head-on:

1. Target Your CV to the Specifics of the Position and the Company

  • To present yourself as the ideal “Best Fit” Candidate, you will need to target your skill sets (both in writing and verbally) to match as closely as possible with the skills and achievements required in the Job Specification.
  • In addition to aligning your skills and achievements with the Job Specification, research the Company to determine its direction, culture, mission statement and overall goals. Ask yourself, “Why am I uniquely qualified to add value to this particular position? How will my personal strengths and qualifications match the goals of the manager, the department, and the organization as a whole?”
  • Your research will form the basis for how you will direct each of your verbal responses during a job interview.
  • Remember that whatever you claim on your CV or Résumé or refer to in an interview needs to be 100% truthful. It is your decision, however, as to which skills, achievements and experiences you choose to emphasize.

2. Be aware of the potential red flag

  • If the suggestion that you are overqualified is brought up during your job interview, it is a large red flag—and one you will need to address immediately by countering the reasons listed above – you should grasp the context and respond accordingly. Remember, you have already been screened as to your suitability for the position, and you have passed through to the interview stage, this mention is an indication that someone on the hiring team is feeling either concerned about the longevity of your employment or threatened by you.
  • If threatened, be prepared to explain that your intention is to act in support of your future boss and co-workers. You also want to indicate that you are willing to take direction. Consider saying something like, “My work gives me great satisfaction. I’m certain that working in a firm such as this will afford me many exciting challenges and opportunities for growth. Each company is different and I look forward to developing ways of performing my job and contributing to your team.”

3. Stress your enthusiasm, energy and eagerness to add value

Show how your years of experience will provide a substantial and real advantage. “I am looking for a position where my skills and background can contribute to the bottom line. Because of my years of experience, I’m sure I can hit the ground running and make a real difference in support of your goals.”

4. Use the phrase, “at this point in my career.”

  • Work/life balance becomes more important as we age. If, in fact, you have decided to step down somewhat and take a job with less responsibility, you want to represent your choice in a positive light. Say something like, “I’ve enjoyed my years as a manager. Yet, at this point in my career, I have come to the realization that I prefer doing the hands-on work myself. I get a real boost by producing a tangible result from my efforts, so this position should be a perfect fit for me and my current career path.”
  • Do not forget to underscore your enthusiasm for the job.

If you anticipate the potential objections you might encounter due to your age and experience level, you can prepare the appropriate responses to help you address these issues head-on. Despite the challenges, you will want to display a winning attitude, a willingness to learn and emphasize your eagerness to make a long-term contribution. These points will go a long way to help you overcome the overqualified objection and turn your experience into the asset it truly is!

The second prime factor was – “I have tried for months but I can’t get a job!”

The Long-Term Unemployable Me

Long-term unemployment can be contributable to many causes; however there are 4 types of unemployment, and the distinction between them is important:

  1. Natural Unemployment; where the economy is operating at full capacity, the supply of labour equals the supply of labour demand. If an individual works in a specific industry sector that has a limited capacity for a certain type of role, a surplus of labour will result in individuals remaining unemployed
  2. Frictional Unemployment; where individuals are between jobs. It is sometimes referred to as “Search Unemployment”. It is caused by supply and demand where a mismatch of an individual to a specific job will be based upon skills, remuneration, hours worked, location and seasonal demands and a multitude of other factors such as personal attitude, business culture, friction between management and the employee, lack of achievement or cost of employment often referred to a “Return On Investment”
  3. Structural Unemployment; where at a given wage the quantity of labour in the marketplace referred to as “supply” exceeds the quantity of labour required i.e. the abundance of better people to meet the needs of the job. Unfortunately, the unemployable me generally fits into this type where skills, attitude, achievements, experience and first impressions do not meet the criteria of the Employer.
  4. Cyclical Unemployment; the economy of any country is cyclical. Its seasonal trends consist of growth and contraction. When businesses experience production below its long-run optimal level, they require fewer worker

Being long-term unemployed is hard enough but there is also the stigma attached to the status. Some Employers reject Candidates outright who for probably no fault of their own haven’t worked for over a year.

There are of course individuals, who simply do not have a clue how to profile and position themselves for a job as observed by me at the Job Fair.

The Unemployable Me long-term unemployment solution

The most important thing you can do to boost your chances after a long spell away is updating your skills.


Enrol on – and complete – one of the many trade courses available and you’ll see an improvement in your employability. This extra training will help convince a potential employer that you have the drive and commitment to succeed, as well as having tangible and relevant skills. Simply do not just sit at home waiting for someone to help you get back into work.

Be Upfront with Your Situation

If you’ve been out of work for a long time, it’s absolutely vital to explain the reasons why to Employers. So whether you have had to stay at home to bring up a family, or you have had an illness, or took time off work to travel, or simply been unlucky in the jobs market, explain your absence in a few sentences.

Employers understand CV or Résumé gaps, and your explanation immediately transforms you from being a statistic into a human being with a personal story, and most Employers are happy to give a good person a chance.

Consider Temporary Work

This is often a great way of getting a foot in the door and securing a permanent post later on. It’s also an easy way to network and make contacts, which can be beneficial in the future. For people on benefits, this can be a hard choice to make as it’s currently difficult to sign on and off without losing money. Anyone choosing this route in the interest of gaining work experience will impress a future Employer.

Work is Work! Consider Unglamorous Sectors

The waste management and recycling sector will to grow by 7% per annum. It’s hardly glamorous but there are many unskilled and entry-level jobs that can lead to other jobs down the line. There are equivalents in other sectors up for grabs too, so look out for them when you’re searching for jobs.

Contact a Former Employer

If you have a former employer who you got on well with, get in touch and see if they’ll meet you to have a chat about the sector and work possibilities. Explain that it’s just a fact-finding mission as you’ve been out of the workplace, it takes the pressure off.

Plus there’s always the possibility that your former employer may know of a vacancy that’s just right for you.

Get Back into the Work Habit – Volunteer.

Get used to working with other people and at someone else’s pace again. Voluntary work, whether it’s helping out at a school, charity or church, will get you back in the habit of being at a certain place at a certain time. Experts often say the most essential skill for getting back into work is the discipline of setting an alarm clock.

Get a mentor or a Coach, such as Recruitment-Guru.com

Online mentoring can be a fantastic way to get valuable information on how you can secure employment by learning new skills and techniques on how to professionally profile yourself. A mentor will help you create a CV that will attract Recruiters and Employers, and help throughout the recruitment process.