Wednesday, April 13, 2011

An Employability Quandary

My Scenario:
I recently moved from the Sunshine Coast (Queensland, Australia) to Melbourne, also in Australia, but a capital city rather than a regional location.  The reasons for the move are various, including proximity to a thriving Arts culture and a more cosmopolitan milieu.  As a bonus, I took for granted that it would also offer much more to me from a career perspective, though this wasn't one of the primary motivating forces behind the relocation.  And there I find the quandary...

Since moving I've managed to secure one interview.  The interview went very well; all participants found a comfortable rapport and the atmosphere was quite relaxed and conversational - I was even treated to a tour of the IT facilities (Data Centre) afterwards.  I took that to be a pretty good sign.  However, my potential new employer decided, after some reflection, that I was over-qualified for the position and wished me luck in my continued search.  

I've applied for numerous jobs through online job vacancy web sites and been cold-contacted by recruiters, presumably after they've viewed one of my online professional profiles (LinkedIn, CareerOne, Seek) and have still yet to secure another interview.

I know I'm a dedicated and valuable employee.  My referees will happily back me up on that.  Yet I seem unable to sell that message well enough to get past the shortlisting phase.  Is it my resume?  The recruiters I've spoken to say the resume is fine, good even.  There don't seem to be opportunities for Network Engineers advertised in the newspapers any more - or at least not where and when they used to be (Wednesday/Saturday, The Age; Tuesday, The Australian), so the online route seems to be the only one available.

My other concern, based on the content of the ads I find on Seek and CareerOne, is that perhaps I've landed myself in an experiential black spot:  too qualified for junior/basic roles even if I wanted to apply for them; not qualified enough for the enterprise roles being advertised.  I've just started studying for my CCNP.  I do have F5 experience.  But...the majority of the roles I'm finding in my searches are asking for multi-vendor (and multi-year) experience as a starting point.  Where do I fit in?

I'm no bullsh*t artist.  I don't believe in gilding the lily in terms of my value (considerable) and experience (3+ years).  But, am I too humble?  Where do you draw the line?  After all, what I'm trying to do is get the attention of an employer so that they will see me.  I firmly believe that once we've met, unless I'm totally unsuited to the role on offer (which fact was strangely missed in the review of my resume) that I have an excellent chance of being offered the position.

I need to get that face-to-face.

If you've had a similar experience, especially if you found a way through, I'd love to hear from you in the Comments.  Of course, you're also welcome to call me a whiner and offer [helpful] suggestions, but please keep them relevant - and PG :)

[Update (3-MAY-11):  I have a job!  I took to heart Katrina's advice (first comment below this post) and decided to try my luck.  I was in a similar position to what Katrina described:  Applied for a position, wasn't successful - role was already filled.  However, I was so inspired by the job advertisement and my subsequent research into the company ( that I decided to send them an email and see if they had anything else available.  After a couple of meetings, sort of informal interviews, I now have a full time position with them.  My heartfelt thanks to all those people who offered advice and encouragement via Twitter and such, it was greatly appreciated.]


  1. Ben, have you considered approaching some employers directly yourself? I had an instance recently where an agency put me forward to a firm, I didn't get shortlisted for an interview. I decided what the heck so emailed the managing partner to ask just to meet for a coffee and he was very happy to do so. The role available wasn't the right one for me, but at least it got me in front of the employer so that next time if something comes up I am one step ahead of the next person (& may also mean that the firm can avoid paying recruitment costs).

  2. Thanks Katrina, a really good point. I've not been put forward for too many roles at this stage due to, I believe, the "experiential black spot" I mentioned in the post. I'm now considering trying to find out who the employers are behind the ads to see if I can do something similar. It's not often easy to find out who an employer is though if the recruiter doesn't think you fit the requirements for the advertised role. I did, however, find an excellent opportunity on LinkedIn that I've applied for and I DO know who that employer is. Fingers crossed.

  3. fwiw: