GUEST COMMENT: I am not overqualified, I am over 40

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Over 40

When I was made redundant from my job as a middle office manager with a leading asset management company a few years ago, I didn’t envisage I’d have any problems finding an alternative position.

After all, I had nearly 20 years’ experience within the investment business, many of them in a managerial and training capacity. I had an array of qualifications and a useful network of contacts. With a reasonable redundancy package to fall back on, and the recession yet to bite, my plan was to take some gardening leave for a month or two, enjoy some quality time with my family and start job hunting thereafter. However I had overlooked one factor - I was over 40.

Once I started job hunting in earnest, my attempts to find work seemed to follow a pattern resembling Groundhog Day. I would register with agencies, which almost invariably would be very positive at first. Their standard initial response was: “Yes, great CV, loads of experience.”

Thereafter, however, job interviews were very few and far between. The feedback, when I obtained it, didn’t really tell me anything. It was always: “They really liked you, but there was another guy who……”

Fabricated excuses

Two occasions particularly stand out.

In one, I was going for a six month contract role at a custody bank. Without wishing to sound big headed, this was something I could have done with my eyes shut. The interview went very well, but a few days later when I rang the agency for some feedback I was duly informed that the position had been withdrawn “since no suitable candidates were available!”

The second involved sitting a lengthy aptitude test which I scored very highly on, but was subsequently rejected through being….. OVERQUALIFIED!!

From reading blogs on other websites, I am clearly not the only person who has had this experience! Applying for jobs directly met with equally little success. Networking generated a lunch or two, a couple of interviews, a few days’ work here and there, but nothing more.

When I suggested to a number of recruiters the possibility of retraining in a different discipline within financial services using transferable skills, I was usually met with something along the lines of “they haven‘t got time to train people“ or “they only want graduates in trainee roles.”

I reluctantly concluded that all of this was coded language for being considered too old and duly made a career change which has thankfully worked out very well.