“You’re just not qualified!”
The really confusing art of job-hunting

So you think you’re doing everything you’re supposed to do.

College? Check. Grad school? Check.

Really important job that catapults your new underdeveloped career: …

Unfortunately, that box remains empty, because (gasp!) while you were busy enrolling in schools and accepting degrees, you foolishly forgot to get the experience you needed to actually get a job once you’ve finally graduated.

See, you — being the driven, educated person you are — truly believed that in order to develop the right skills, you needed the education and degree titles to help you even get your foot in the door of an established, well-known company; the company where you would build up the very experience that employers are now telling you that you don’t have, which means that you and can’t work at their company, because you’re not qualified.

Corinne Edelin
Photo courtesy of Corinne Edelin

“Wait a minute,” you’re thinking. “I’m confused. All I’ve been told all of my life is, ‘If you go to school, you’ll get a good job,’ and now you’re telling me that because I was in school, and didn’t work full time at a demanding, super-important advertising firm or law office, that I can’t have that job because I’m not qualified?”

That’s when you might really start ranting.

“You people need to make up your minds,” you seethe. “Do you want someone with tons of education and no work experience, or someone with work experience but minimal education? Or is it both? But if you want both, at some point in this circle of confusion, shouldn’t you hire the educated person so that they can get the work experience you so adamantly require?”

Whatever. At some point, someone has to take a chance on that bright-eyed, nervous, not-entirely-but-almost-clueless interviewee that steps in to their office, who is just looking for someone to believe in them. And contrary to some employers’ beliefs, we — the gaggle of grads — do actually learn and retain the information presented in graduate school and can apply it, quite well actually, to real-life workplace situations.

But more than that, employers, you should give that person a chance so they can continue to have chances down the road. We all have to start somewhere. Think back: There was a time when it was you sitting in your parents’ house in September, with no health insurance, after going to school for six years and earning two degrees, wondering what the hell the point of all that work was because you’ve had to move back home after college, and none of it made a difference anyway.

See yourself in the bright-eyed and nervous. Step out on a limb and say to them, “We believe in you,” and offer them the same life-changing experience that got you where you are today.

Remember: You can always fire them.

EDITOR’S NOTE: After months of job-hunting and interviewing, Corinne finally landed what she calls “an excellent position” as a field marketing coordinator in the Atlanta corporate offices of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc.

“Field marketing is a new division of Starwood that began a little over four years ago that is solely devoted to online marketing for Starwood Hotels. One of our main purposes is to help drive traffic to the hotels’ special offers [Web] pages and generate revenue for the hotels,” she explains. “It is a wonderful job and I am very fortunate to have landed the position I did, on the team that I did.”

So take heart, all you over-educated and under-experienced folks out there: Sometimes, finding success is just a matter of time.

“Although at times it seemed like I would never find the job that suited me just right, the job actually found me, and the interviewing and the waiting allowed me to recognize what was the best fit for me,” Corrine says.