Linda Hertz Group

My Medical Device Sales Career

I Have All The Qualifications! Why Am I Not Getting The Job?

l am in Michigan this week on vacation and I was visiting an old High School friend named Marty. Over a glass of wine we were discussing the difficulty in the workplace and how her daughter, who just earned an Ivy League MBA, was making it to the final interviews and not getting the job (although well qualified since she also had a few years working experience before she went back to go full time for her MBA).

I reflected on that situation and said, "Yes, I have that happening all the time in my medical sales recruiting business. It is stunning to have 5 great, ALL well qualified, candidates interview for the same open position. Four years ago you would be lucky to find one fully qualified candidate going to the interview"! I then went on to say, "But there is something else that is going on this year that is even a little different than last year" as I reflected on an earlier article I wrote in November of 2009, Why Is Getting Hired So Hard Now?.

As that earlier article states, companies were waiting for the "perfect candidate" to come forth last year for their job and interview AGAINST a promotable internal candidate. No surprise, the internal candidate almost always won the job! Almost one year later, most companies are back hiring external candidates; perhaps most companies have already placed or exhausted their own internal candidate resources? So what is different this year, why are qualified people still coming up short of getting hired?

After reflecting on the last few job openings that I have been recruiting for, as well as pondering Marty's daughter's situation, a thought occurred to me, "There is something going on different this year Marty, the perfect candidate it now being upstaged by the OVERLY perfect candidate!". Miss or Mr. Perfect is not good enough anymore to get the job! Marty looked at me like I was crazy, afterall, how was "perfect" not good enough?

I went on to explain, "I use to tell candidates that they must look hard at the job descriptions MINIMAL job requirements. I would tell them they must have ALL of the stated requirements. I would then tell them to look at the DESIRED or PREFERRED requirements and the more they could check off each as something they brought to the table, the greater the chance they would get the job". As I thought about it, that no longer holds true. You could be perfect, you could have ALL the minimal AND preferred requirements and appear to be a great culture fit for a company too and still not get the job. In fact, these are the candidates that do obtain that coveted and critical FINAL interview to only find they do not come home with the grand prize: THE JOB!

The last few candidate searches that I have conducted the MINIMAL and PREFERRED requirements are only the starting point. They are no longer "good enough" to get the job, people are applying to positions that they are overqualified for in a "good way". The overly qualified I am talking about are not the ones considered TOO qualified in the wrong way (you know, the guy that has been a Vice President of Sales for 10 years, use to make a 300K income, unemployed for 1 year and interviewing for an entry level sales position). Nope, we now have the overly qualified candidates in a good way coming out of the woodwork for a single job!

You should see the shock when one of these types of overly qualified folks goes to the final interview only to be knocked out by another of their own kind! As one hiring manager told me this week, "Hey I would like to bring all three on board, but I can only pick one!". Wow...three overly perfect people for one job!

What does a qualified person in a good way look like? First of all it is someone who is currently employed, still plugged into the workforce and not making a tremendous amount more money than the open job position. In addition, their career stage is not WAY beyond the current position offered (ie; a medical sales position that is really meant for an entry business to business sales position, but a currently experienced medical sales person is applying).

To increase the understanding of this trend:

PREFERRED OVERLY QUALIFIED CANDIDATE (OQC) EXAMPLES

  • A Job ONLY requires a 4 Yr. Degree; our OQC has an MBA
  • A Job Prefers a solid financial background with only a BS; The OQC MBA in finance and/or worked in the banking industry prior to their medical sales background.
  • A Job Prefers Medical Sales with strong Clinical understanding; The OQC has a 4 Yr. BSN with an MBA and medical sales experience (or a 2 Yr. RN with a 4 Yr. BS in business and sales experience).
  • A Job Prefers top sales experience; The OQC has won 4 consecutive Presidents Awards.
  • A Job Prefers 5 years of medical sales management; The OQC has 10 years managing the same type of product or disease state products, while leading team to top Presidents Award Performance.
  • A Business to Business Sales required only; This is a TOP issue right now, BtoB people are getting blown away with all the currently experienced medical or pharma sales people getting the jobs..period!
  • No need to go on, right? Put the Minimal AND Preferred Requirement of a Job Description down and you can come up with its OQC counterpart.

Of course I did not go into this type of detail with Marty, but I did review a bit of the above experiences with her. As she took another sip of wine, she contemplated this scenario possibility as it relates to her daughter's situation and then asked, "So what is she supposed to do, just give up?". Of course we both laughed, we knew that was not the best way to address this or any situation! I told Marty, "I will write an article on this topic this week and let me get back to you with the best job hunt strategy given this new trend".

So Marty, here it is; your daughter must make herself the overly qualified candidate in a good way. In her case, she may need to go back and interview for the type of job she had before she attained her MBA. She then can earn her promotions into the higher level MBA required or preferred positions; she will be the favored internal candidate (a position of strength) in a few years or less.

This approach can be used by almost everyone; seek out the position that you not only have ALL the requirements they are looking for BUT MORE....just enough more to be considered the preferred overly qualified candidate! Yes, this will require you to look at positions that are clearly NOT a step up from your previous position, BUT may provide a way for you to transition to another career or simply to change your unemployment status to employed!

I know this not a desired approach to finding a new job, but if you are having difficulty finding a job and you REALLY NEED to get plugged into something new or have no job at all, then add a few jobs to your search bucket that would place you as the overly qualified candidate in a good way. I hope this earned me another glass of wine Marty!

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