Yesterday, as I was in the office of a local veterinarian, filling out an application for a vet assistant/technician job (no experience necessary, will train the right person, must love animals) I received a phone call. As it was about a job I applied for a few weeks earlier I stepped outside to take the call.
Sorry, I was told, we didn’t select you for the position (administrative office job). I asked why since during the phone interview it seemed as though I was perfectly well qualified. The prospective employer paused and then told me that yes, I was perfectly well qualified, actually over qualified and that was the problem. Although I had assured them that the salary was not an issue they just could not believe I would stay in a job that paid less than one-third of my last wage. And she told me, before I could get a word in, speaking to one of my prior supervisors only confirmed her belief. He had told her he just couldn’t see me doing the job and was surprised to hear that I’d applied for ‘such a low level position.’
This is not the first time this obstacle has arisen in my job search. Employers find it hard to believe that someone would willingly back down the ladder to a position and wage they passed by decades ago. They assume you are only taking the job as a stepping stone and that you will give notice the minute something better comes along. They worry that you will be bored, or resentful in your new position and that hiring a better educated, more experienced person might create conflict or concern amongst their current staff. One employer told me that they couldn’t hire me at a lower salary (for the mid-level position they had open) because the senior staff objected to having a more experienced person making less money – it made them worry their own worth would be devalued.
I ended the phone call and went back to filling in the application for the vet tech position – honestly answering the questions about my education, past wages, and years of experience, all the while feeling that each answer was a nail in this job’s coffin. I sometimes think I need a new identity to go with my new career!