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Overqualified and frustrated

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
Aggh, some things seem like such a great idea at the time. I could have gone for proper jobs when I first graduated in 2004 when the economy was great and by now I'd have been doing proper adult stuff close on 5 years by now and well on my way up some kind of career ladder or other. But oh no, I decided to do an MSc and then a PhD and now I find myself having finally finished (oh yes, once I finish my amendments I can smugly use my Dr title :D) at THE worst time ever to get a job. Luckily I'm a part time extended schools administrator at a school, so at least that's bringing something in, but I can't work part time forever. I've been actively looking for jobs since June - admin jobs, research jobs, jobs working for MPs, non-academic university jobs, and finally now academic university jobs - but have got nowhere so far and only had 4 interviews. It's sooooo frustrating.It's just annoying that despite having done 3 internships for the Labour Party/an MP those applications are getting nowhere (I got a lot more interviews last time round I was jobhunting, about 3 years ago - this time, nothing) and despite having 3 years admin experience now, noone wants to take me on in these kinds of jobs either. Grrr.

I'm working on amending my thesis now - should be done in a few weeks - and also need to write amendments for an article I submitted to German History journal, and then plan to write a book proposal, so I suppose everything is kind of coming along nicely and in a month or two I will be in a stronger position again, and will be more of a catch for History departments, but that doesn't make the work situation any less depressing. Academic stuff is only really likely to arise for September onwards at the very earliest. I need something for NOW. I suppose I could find out whether the school would consider taking me on full-time, but I'm not sure they have enough in the budget to do that, and in any case I feel I want to move onto other things now.

Sorry for the rant, but please feel free to join me!


  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Hey Meryn
    First of all, well done on doing your PHD - what an achievement! It might feel a bit like you're never going to use it at the moment, but try not to lose sight of what an amazing thing you have achieved!

    In terms of your search for work, you're definitely not alone - there are lots of overqualified people going for jobs that are well 'beneath' them at the moment. Unfortunately there just aren't enough of the higher positions to go around, but that doesn't mean they're not out there. Keep networking and listening out for new openings so you don't miss out when opportunities arise.

    Have you thought about doing a few different CVs for different type of jobs? It sounds like you're applying for admin roles as well as roles at academic institutions, and those employers will be looking for very different things. For the admin role you could play down your academic achievements and focus on the admin experience you have. You could also try signing up with some temping agencies, who will understand that you are only looking for fill-in work until you find the right post to use your qualifications.

    Good luck, I hope you find something suitable soon :)
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Hi, thanks for that spanner.

    I have no problem with the fact that I'm looking for admin work and things, although I have to be a bit careful with what exactly I apply for - I suspect my application would be treated with suspicion if I applied for a job as History Dept administrator or with the company that I was given an interview for a higher up position a few weeks back for instance. I'm just worried that my applications for those kind of jobs aren't being taken seriously because they think I'll jump ship after 5 minutes. I've done an admin role for 3 years now, and have plenty of unpaid experience besides, so I've got proof I can do admin work, but I've still had no luck. I'm reluctant to join temping agencies although that would make jumping ship not an issue, firstly because in my experience they've all been useless anyway, and secondly at least my current job is secure: I'd hate to jack it in for a two-week stint only to find myself unemployed straight afterwards.

    Yes I do have two CVs, but I don't feel I can completely whitewash over my PhD. 3 years is a big gap and my part-time job is only 7 to 14 hours a week, so in an interview situation any attempt I'd make to make it seem like it's a full-time job would probably completely unravel...or *should* I actually be leaving my PhD off?? What do you think?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Just as an example, here's a supporting statement I wrote for a recent application:

    'I am applying for the post of Widening Participation Administrator at Queen Mary University of London because I am passionate about the aims of Widening Participation, I have considerable administrative experience, and feel I have the ability, commitment and experience to be the ideal candidate for the role.

    Having been Extended Schools Co-ordinator at Parliament Hill School for nearly 3 years, as well as having undertaken a number of internships with the Labour Party and within Westminster, I have considerable office experience and have carried out all sorts of routine office administration, for example answering correspondence, e-mails, and phone calls, filing, and maintaining databases. I have had some experience of financial management, as I set and monitor the Extended Schools budget. As a constituency secretary of the Labour Party, I also have experience of writing and circulating agendas and taking minutes.

    Throughout my paid and voluntary work I have worked with and alongside a wide variety of different people at all levels of seniority, from undergraduate students at Sheffield University to Martin Linton MP. For my current role as Extended Schools Co-ordinator I had to build good relationships with my line-manager, other staff in the school and within the London Borough of Camden, as well as other stakeholders, in order to maintain and extend Parliament Hill’s Extended Schools provision. During my internship with Martin Linton I communicated with constituents in writing and by phone, which included having to tactfully deal with distressed callers. I am friendly, polite, professional and relate well to people of all ages and backgrounds.

    Combining my doctoral studies with part time employment at Parliament Hill School and as a seminar tutor at the University of Sheffield, flexibility, the ability to work under pressure and prioritise different tasks that come up at different times have been vital. I have set up paper and electronic administrative systems, both in relation to my research and my work at Parliament Hill. My organisational skills have ensured that I have carried out all the strands of my work as efficiently as possible. My ability to prioritise and work productively alone enabled me to complete my thesis on target, just over 3 years after starting.

    Whilst I work independently on my PhD and at Parliament Hill I work my own tasks and projects unsupervised, I have worked as part of a team on many occasions, notably whilst a Student Ambassador and Mentor at Bristol University and UCL and regularly communicate with other members of staff at the school. I enjoy the sociability and opportunity to brainstorm ideas that comes with working with others.

    I have experience of regularly using MS Office (Word, Excel, Access and Powerpoint) through both work at Parliament Hill School and my studies. I have also used a range of different e-mail programs, including Outlook, and have experience of updating websites from my time with the eCampaigns team of the Labour Party.

    From my work as a Student Ambassador at Bristol University, and from general interest since then, I have kept up to date with debates and policies surrounding Widening Participation and have a good awareness of the issues involved.

    I am committed to equal opportunities - it is a vital part of the Widening Participation agenda - and would ensure that it is embedded into everything that I do. I also welcome any opportunities that come my way for training and professional development'.

    And my 'non academic job' CV:

    Do you reckon it's along the right lines? I've read that some people favour skills-based cvs? Might it be a good idea to change mine to that kind of format or is it all a bit gimmicky? I'm undecided....

    Thanks for your help, people!Attachment not found.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I feel your pain - almost 3 years after graduating with an MA I've been stuck in one dead end job after another! I can't really offer advice on the academic CV bit, but as for the non-academic/admin one, I've played around with my CV format a fair few times over the years. I would definitely think about putting your work history before qualifications, managed to get more interviews that way. Also, bullet points seems to go down well, I've started using this layout:

    Job title, employer - start date - end date

    Then a sentence summing up broadly where my position fitted into the organisation (try to fit in buzz words such as fast-paced, skilled etc)

    Then... Key Responsibilities and Experience

    5 or 6 concise bullet points, again trying to fit in a buzz word or 2 for each.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Thanks flibbertygibbert, maybe I'll try with that format next time - it seems kind of sensible to put work experience first - at least that way they can see what I've done before making judgements based on my qualifications.

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