Help address specific job qualification feedback & relevant open role
September 21, 2022 1:09 AM   Subscribe

I've written here before and regarding challenges with changing careers and too much job experience for entry-level roles and not enough for the mid-level. I have a specific hiring manager message to have a response to in the future & a related "feeder" job example I'd like advice on. Also, I have new personal insight. Help me get ahead of the assumptions about experience and interest in a job.

You've helped me make interview presentation corrections and you've given advice on this before. This question is less so about interview performance, less so about general qualification mismatches. Recently, I have been able to dig deeper and get open and transparent feedback from hiring managers at a more granular level. I have a specific hiring manager message about my qualifications and perception of interest in an early-career role to answer to and a new position posting from another company to show what I am realistically hoping to get hired for. Also, I have some new insight about my passion for the field that should be useful to explain why I want to get my foot in the door.

I’m in the United States, male and 45 years old. I have 15 years’ experience in an unrelated field doing client facing business development. I worked with multinational companies on go-to-market strategy and consumer brand development. It was sales, marketing and exporting physical goods. The new field is management consulting services requiring discipline-specific subject-matter knowledge. Associate consultant roles are entry-level and mid-level roles require 3-5 years’ experience. I had expected that out of grad school that with my prior client facing experience that I could start at a mid-level role which hasn’t been the case.

My resume apparently works. I get interviews for mid-level roles, but get turned down for not enough field specific experience. When I interview for associate level roles, I’m told that I have too much professional experience and would not like the work, remain engaged and even once told that I’d be flat out bored.

This consulting industry is somewhat small and people are transparent and willing to help. For example, I had a good interview last year for an account manager role with a top target firm, but didn’t get the role. Later, I took a chance and wrote the talent acquisition manager explaining that I was really looking for a consulting role. She kindly wrote back the following in a private email:

I understand your frustrations in trying to find the right fit in a new job. Full transparency on the Teapot, Inc. Consulting Associate position you applied for: We usually fill those with people who are fresh out of, or completing their Tea Pot consulting master’s degree or people who don’t’ necessarily want to move up to a Consultant position but want to remain in a support role. The max starting compensation is $xx,xxx annually. The good news is, these positions are a launching pad to move up within our consulting ranks. We are close to making an offer for one of the Consulting Assoc positions we have open. I’m meeting with the hiring team for the Consultant and Sr consultant on Monday. I’ll get more information on those then. Let’s stay in touch.

That was incredibly nice of this person at Tea Pot, Inc. and it was even more helpful. I hadn’t realized that I wasn’t even being considered for associate roles. After knowing this, I’ve asked for feedback from other firms and received similar messages since then. I previously wrote about one of these. So confirmed: I’ve fallen in that mid-career changer crack - too much professional experience and not enough directly in the field. But this time I’m not concerned about not getting a mid-level role because I was not competitive enough. This time I want to express genuine interest and go after the entry-level role and proactively addressing the assumption of my lack of interest or doubts about future job satisfaction..

I have no problem paying my dues, and that’s all I want to do. How the heck do I get ahead of that message in both a cover letter and interview? How do I use my words to address this going forward?

Coincidentally, yesterday another favorite firm posted an associate level position. Check it out:

Espresso Machine’s, Assoc. Consultants will be agile resources to partner closely with Sr. consultants to facilitate superior client value. They will demonstrate adaptable consulting capability, are technically conversant, and can work fluidly within strategic account teams (consulting, sales, project management) to deliver solutions with impact to Espresso Machine clients.

A key component of this position is helping to support those managing large consulting portfolios, to empower those resources to engage clients for high-impact situations. This position is viewed as a “feeder” position to more advanced roles within Consulting function. With time and progression, there will be opportunities to expand into more wide-ranging consultant opportunities within Espresso Machine that are focused on driving value to customers as Italian coffee business and management advisors. This will include deeper contact with other solutions (including, latte, cappuccino, and others) to create a unified experience for leaders. This can also include engaging with Espresso Machine’s largest multinational clients.

I applied with a cover letter brief addressing that I’m looking for my foot in the door, and it was probably just ok. “Feeder” is the key word. I’m believe that this job description is representative of most associate level roles and can inform my applications for future applications for similar looking jobs.

I am 100% passionately in love with this field. I left a great career behind to do this. It was an act of self-actualization. I’ve sacrificed and invested blood, sweat and literal tears to get into this field.

It’s so incredibly frustrating to hit this wall of needing 3-5 years’ experience for a mid-level role but being overlooked for the entry level because of a perceived potential disinterest in foot-in-the-door roles.

UNEXPECTED INSIGHT ALERT! As I’m writing this, I’m realizing that I have not done enough to demonstrate this passion. It’s a missed opportunity for why I absolutely want work at the entry-level. As cheesy as it sounds, I should probably be addressing my passion directly in cover letters and interviews. Sometimes being a little cheesy works. (Sometimes just writing this stuff out is helpful).

I thank you in advance. I hope that all makes sense and I'm going to watch Cassian Andor now.
posted by Che boludo! to Work & Money (2 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
There's some good advice here: Overqualified for a Job? Use This Strategy.

Mostly, I think it comes down to acknowledging that you're overqualified, and then addressing the concerns employers have.

Those concerns mostly boil down to making sure you stick around long enough for them to get enough return on the investment it took to hire and train you.

So address that. Point out you're passionate about working in the industry, which means you're motivated to stay in the role for 3 years or more because that's the amout of experience you need to step up to a mid-level position.

I changed careers recently, from general IT to being an academic librarian. That change involved a step down in both salary and responsibilities - I went from from being a team leader to being a team member. One of the ways I convinced the employer to consider me was that I called them up before I submitted my job application. We talked about my reasons for changing careers, why I was so passionate about this new industry, and how this lower-level role fitted in with my long term goals.

So that would be my advice to you: Call them up. Discuss their concerns. Reassure them you'll stick around long enough to provide value. Don't leave your career up to the assumptions recruiters make about you based on your resume.
posted by davidwitteveen at 2:49 AM on September 21 [1 favorite]

that I’m looking for my foot in the door

As a hiring manager, that tells me that you're not interested in the job you're applying for, and likely will leave the position as fast as you can.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 5:02 AM on September 21 [2 favorites]

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