On Monday my expertise gave sound advice to a group of unemployed at a church employment networking meeting. For once in about a year I felt needed….like my expertise in recruitment was valued again. It was a great feeling!

As fulfilling as it was to be able to offer my knowledge of the job search process to those in need, it doesn’t pay the bills. It doesn’t change the fact that after working in the same field for 15 years, I feel I have been thrown under the bus! Too experienced (employer translation: too expensive).

I am still the same responsible, ethical and loyal person with the same passion to hire quality people as I had when I first started in recruiting. I have the same kind of bills as those younger than me who are on the receiving end of jobs that I once was the primary candidate for.

Is it right or acceptable for an experienced individual to accept a lower level job in order to keep the resume from having employment history gaps? This was the subject of some discussion on Monday.

Honestly, I used to be one of those that believed there is nothing wrong with taking any job because you have to be able to put food on the table. But in this new economy, employers are more careful in their hiring. They have the same amount of work to do; but less resources to do them. Even these employers with the lower level jobs are looking for people who will be loyal and stay for at least 1-2 years. I actually was told this by an employer. But then in a year what happens when you’re in demand again for your specific skill set in your chosen field? I have heard that some employers will walk you out if they hear or find your resume on the street! When did it become a crime to send your resume to another employer? In days of old, keeping your eyes on the job market was a way of finding out your worth.

I could capitalize on my prior administrative background which I left 15 years ago; but then what do I say about the last 15 years? How does that really look to employers? And honestly, I feel like I am doing a disservice to myself and the hard work I gave for the last 15 years. What are your thoughts?

Views: 93

Comment by Sandra McCartt on November 12, 2010 at 3:54pm
You might consider finding a smaller company where the office manager is also the recruiter /HR and does a lot of administrative work, then sell it that because of your experience you could take on other responsibilities as needed. This might offer you a reasonable salary range and an employer a comfort zone that you would stay and be able to become a key employee.

My answer to the employer who questioned you about leaving when things pick up would be to ask if he was making as much money as he did three or four years ago. If he says , "well, no of course not." Then ask if he is considering closing the business or is he taking less profit until he can build more? If that is what he is doing, suggest to him that you are willing to take less money to help him build the profit again and perhaps if you can do that there will be an increase for both of you and a real feeling of accomplishment for your that you were in a position to help make that happen. There is nothing more loyal than an employee who feels they were a part of making something happen, grow or recover.

As to being walked out the door when your resume is on the street. That has been going on some places since the dawn of time. Others encourage their disgruntled employees to check out the market and if they feel they would be happier someplace else by all means do it. Job hunting while employed is always something that should be done quietly and with great discretion. How would you feel about it if you found out your spouse or significant other were doing a bit of "looking" to see if they could find a better place to be? Not quite the same thing but the angst is very much the same and sometimes the result is the same.
Comment by Jessica Nicholas on November 15, 2010 at 10:48am
That is definitely frustrating and I've heard the same from friends and candidates. Personally, I agree that you have to take a job which will pay your bills. If it's of lesser seniority, then you can work your way back up. However, I think to be HAPPY doing that work (and convincing to a potential employer), you need to find something about each job that triggers your long-term interest in it besides just income. If you can go into an interview able to explain, "If I were to get an offer for $5K more the same day you made me an offer, I'd still want the job with you because..." that shows a little more planning than just reasonless assurances.

I don't think going back a few years means your well-earned experience is devalued. What things do you miss from the earlier days? If you took a step back, what would you get to do again that you haven't gotten to do lately? I think Sandra is on the right track of looking at companies that might let you utilize your recent and prior experience in a more general way. I'm sure you're still using the administrative skills you built 15 years ago today, so an Office Manager (or Operations Manager at a smaller recruitment firm) may not really be a step back, but more like merging your two experiences!

While this is probably not good interviewing advice, I think when you take a job, it's your responsibility to do good work while you're there, but it's your employers job to create a place you will want to stay. But that's a whole different post... :-)

I wish you lots of success. It's tough, but it sounds like you have some great experience.
Comment by Becki Dunaway on November 15, 2010 at 11:46am
Thanks for your comments Sandra and Jessica. You both have good advice. As a Recruiter, I have always admired the individual who took any job to remain gainfully employed until finding the RIGHT fit later on. I think it shows a willingness to 'do what it takes'. Someone like this, is a GREAT employee to have and the right employer would probably bend over backwards to keep such an employee (and they should).

As a person on the unemployed end of the market, I am finding that today’s market is VERY different than it has been in the past. Most employers have to run so lean that they don't want to hire someone who will take the job just to put food on the table for their family because they don’t want to be in the position of having to replace that person within the next year. I specifically had an employer ask me during the interview if I would COMMIT to staying 2 years. There is no law that says I have to stay anywhere for 2 years. However, if I love what I’m doing, the people I work with and the environment is stable, I will stay for a very long time.

My last employer told me the number 1 reason for my being layed off was “your resume is on the street and I asked for a 2 year commitment”. I never signed a contract that had any such verbiage. And never mind I was there on time (early actually) every day and never out sick. I put my all into this job even though I knew it was the wrong fit on many levels. I was giving it my all because you never know where it will lead. By the way, my resume was on the street for 6 months BEFORE I got hired by them and if an employer calls me to discuss a job, so be it. It doesn’t mean I am going to jump ship. I might not even be a fit for their job, but I could know someone who is a fit. I never turn down a perfectly good networking call.

So now, you can see why I am gun shy on taking just any job.
Comment by Russell S. Moon III on November 15, 2010 at 12:58pm
"There is no dishonor in honest labor."

Survive and live to fight another day, do what you have to do and in most cases whatever you choose will improve some dimension of your chosen profession.
Comment by Karen Swim on November 15, 2010 at 2:58pm
Becki, I completely sympathize and agree that this job market is very different. Over the years I've heard that desire to hire the committed from the employer and always found it funny. Without an employer contract, there is no guarantee that anyone will stay in a position for a given length of time. Employers would do far better at creating workplaces that made great employees want to stay than devising bully tactics. I agree with the advice you've been given to find an employer that will value the breadth of your experience - it may be a smaller company, or a hybrid position but search for a great fit. There may even be companies that you can approach to create that hybrid position - employers appreciate the opportunity to get their needs met efficiently so if you know of a company that can benefit from your admin and recruiting approach them. Whatever you do remember that you are experienced and valuable and someone out there is looking for someone just like you.
Comment by Julia Patterson on November 16, 2010 at 8:56am
I love the phrase 'hybrid position'... it is so true and relevant in today's world. The ability to do everything and have an area of expertise? Valuable to any employer... that creates the right workplace for success. And that truly is the key isn't it? To find the right workplace to match your skills, ability and potential. That will happen... keep doing what you are doing... committment is a two way street in the work world...

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