Downsized and Down-Trodden in this Job Market


Question: I was downsized last year and as a result have resorted to applying for jobs that are below my skill level and expertise.  I have been called in for three interviews for a part-time, minimum wage job and after several weeks of intense interviews they offered the job to someone else.  I am in my mid 40’s but feel as if I am back in college again applying for a summer job.  I am completely frustrated and depressed.  Please any words or encouragement out there?

~Brian T., Bend

Dear Brian

My guess is the interviewers probably sensed that while qualified, that you weren’t really “into” the job.  Many hiring managers know right when a candidate comes through the door what other baggage they are bringing with them.  If you have been laid off from a much higher-level job with a larger salary – it keeps the hiring team wondering why you are going for something below you. 

If you REALLY want the job then you are going to have to pull out whatever you can to make them believe it.  Sell them on your experience, maturity and critical thinking skills.  Skills that may make you look better than a younger, less experienced candidate.  An employer’s greatest fear is turnover. 

They are thinking – if I hire this guy – how long is he going to stay?  Will he jump ship as soon as the economy improves and he gets a better job?  What you want to do is eliminate any roadblocks, doubts and fears the employer may have about your candidacy. 

A good way to “sell” this is to say, “you’re not about the money,” but you are about lending your experience to a growing organization and being to offer immediate value.  If you are FEELING like the job you applied for is “beneath” you in some way – then I guarantee you are projecting that same vibe to prospective employers.  Employers don’t want to have to train a new person and go through the hiring process if you decide to bail. 

You need to convince them of your commitment and show them how you can affect the bottom line, the culture, the product, process or service in an immediate meaningful, lasting way.  I call this TRAIN YOUR BRAIN.  You need to train your brain before you go into an interview.  We all have baggage it is just a matter if it is carry on or check through. 

As, my father a 40-year HR veteran used to tell me, “Fake it until you make it.”  You act “AS IF.”  Imagine yourself in the role you are interviewing for and literally train your brain to become this ideal candidate.  If you are applying for a barista job at Starbucks well then damn tootin’ you become the best coffee slinger this side of the Mississippi.  You understand the product, the service and you sell the experience.  Whatever your dream, “ACT as IF”…act as if you are the king of the coffee campus and win them over.

Julie Leutschaft, MPA, MHA is the owner of The HUMAN Touch, LLC – Human Resources Consulting and Career Counseling Services. 

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