Project jobs: Problems ‘overqualified’ job seekers face

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DENVER -- The slow job market has created a new category of job seekers. The “overqualified.” May sound like a contradiction, but it’s a growing trend as layoffs can affect the most experienced employees.

Dan Tye went from earning a six-figure salary in sales and marketing, to getting denied work as a dishwasher. “I worked for the Canadian government for about 12 years as a business consultant.  I’ve helped large and small.  I’ve done world traveling, I’ve done trade missions.”

With his experience, it’s hard to believe a company wouldn’t want to hire an employee like Tye. But after applying to thousands of jobs in the past year, he’s only had a handful of callbacks. Tye says he’s applied for everything from, “Director of sales, down to dishwasher at a local restaurant.”

He says, the higher paying jobs just aren’t hiring, and the lower level jobs tell him, “You’re just not going to be happy here.”

Tye says the problem is companies are afraid highly-qualified people will leave a lower-level job as soon as something better comes along. “I’ve been there and done that as a manager, it’s a big risk.  But in the same token, if you put someone in who you know will do good for your business, how is that ever a bad decision?”

After more than a year without work, Tye is running out of options, and says he would cut his neighbors lawns just for the cash.  “I will do just about anything to get going right now.” Everyday Tye spends hours searching online for jobs through various websites, filling out dozens of applications, but still no bites.  “As a person, the ego is gone.”

Even more humbling for Dan, his wife supports him and their children, and over the past year they were forced to move into a smaller home, and make tough sacrifices. “My youngest son, his prom was this past weekend.” With tears in his eyes Dan says, “He didn’t even ask.  So that’s a pretty tough one.”

While it’s been hard on the family, Tye remains positive that something will eventually come along. Ever the optimist, he even jokes his experience. I’m old enough now that I saw how the dinosaurs died, but I’m young enough to be hip…I just have to be conscious of not breaking it.”

When asked if he ever wants to be deemed overqualified again he says, “What I will say to them is never tell people that.  Never make them feel disregarded because they worked hard.  And that, in essence, is what they’re saying to me.”