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I so often have frustrated job seekers contacting me wanting to know why when they have a degree, or in some cases more than one degree, can they not get a job driving trucks on a mine or as a labourer in the oil and gas industry, or in many cases any sort of job in the resources industry? After all logically, one would think that it would be easier to get a job if you are more than qualified, even overqualified for the opportunity. However, in reality, this does not seem to be the case.

There are professionals from various industries that decide they want to get involved in the resource industries. The biggest draw card to this industry are often around the extremely lucrative salaries paid in the industry. There is also a certain challenge and excitement associated with this industry, which makes it attractive to many job seekers from other industries, who want to get a foot in the doorway. When a job seeker who has a degree and a wealth of professional experience, gets turned down for a job driving trucks, they can get very frustrated, and insulted, and in many cases take it personally. To make matters worse, when they ask why they were not successful, they are simply told that it’s because they are “over qualified”.

So what does a recruiter generally mean when they tell a candidate that they are over qualified?

What it basically means is that you haven’t taken into consideration, the main criteria as to what the recruiter is looking for, for a particular role. This is normally around experience and qualifications. If you are an Accountant, with 10 years’ experience in accounting, this doesn’t mean that you have the right qualification to operate heavy equipment, nor does it mean that you have the experience and the right skill set to do so. Frustrating yes, but if you look at what is required for the job, then it is really understandable.

Another key factor that recruiters take into consideration is the likelihood of a person staying in the job once they start. For an accountant who is used to working in the corporate world, in comfortable offices, to suddenly find themselves in the middle of nowhere, often based in harsh terrain away from their family and comfort zone, the reality is that many of them will decide after some time that the job is not for them after all. Employers assume, often correctly, that the over qualified candidate will leave at the first chance they have to land a better job. Another worry for the employer is that they will become disgruntled and unhappy in the job, which may affect their work performance.

Candidates from other industries wanting to break into the industry need to also remember that even though driving trucks does not involve obtaining a 4 year degree, there are certain criteria that are required for the job, and companies generally also look for candidates that have the relevant experience qualifications and hours required, behind their names.

Taking all the above into consideration there are many job seekers from other industries that do get lucky and manage to break into the resources industry, even when they hold a couple of degrees and are generally regarded as “over qualified”. However it may take time, persistence and a bit of luck.

It is also important to tailor your application to suit the role you want to move into. Before submitting your resume, always attach a cover letter giving as much information on why you are wanting to make the move, what you can bring to the new position that would make you valuable, and ensure that any relevant experience that you may have is emphasised on your resume.

It will be up to you to make a convincing case as to why you would be suited to the job. You need to study the job description very carefully and to point out exactly why you would be a good person for the job. You may even need to consider doing some relevant training. You will need to be able to persuade the employer that you really want the job, are able to do the job and and to make a commitment that you would stay in the job for a certain amount of time.

You need to look carefully as to why you want the job. Simply saying “I need a job” is not going to be an adequate answer in the interview. You will need to communicate to the recruiter that you really want that particular role. For this reason you need to do your homework, and think about what you are going to say when they ask why you want the job.

At the end of the day you need to be able to show the recruiter not only that you can do the job but also that you want to do it.

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