An Interview with Michael Marshall, ‘The Business Doctor’ July 2010
Again, it has been many months since we last spoke with you.
With the US economy being in the poor condition affecting businesses and employment; what have you encountered out in the business marketplace regarding job positions, employment and hiring practices?
What I have encountered has truly amazed me.
My personal experience with the current state of the US business marketplace is very concerning.
We have heard some surprising things from other sources, as well.
Please share with us some of your experiences.
Much of my recent personal experience with the business marketplace is rather disappointing and not the most progressive side of things where I normally keep my experiences and personal attitudes.
Like I said, we have heard from many about some shocking things happening in the business marketplace regarding retaining and hiring business professionals.
Sharing your observations and experiences that may not be the normal positive and more progressive level can be of benefit to others, as well.
Please do not hesitate.
Please share what you know and what you have observed and experienced.
So many of the business position openings are often over inflated and misrepresent what the position and situation is actually.
Sometimes it is so extremely misstated, it is a lie.
In many business positions, even when the position and situation is stated more accurately and does reflect a professional position; individuals with skills, expertise, experience and education are being viewed as ‘over-qualified’ and then aggressively discriminated against.
Wait a minute.
Are you saying that businesses are not hiring the highest skilled, educated and experienced individuals that they can find and who wants the job position?
Yes, that is correct.
There seems to be three main reasons for this.
The compensation and wage may be low even though the position with responsibilities and the higher qualifications that are needed warrant higher.
Such businesses have many job seekers to pick from so they look for those at lower levels of expertise who have been at lower level wages that may be able to stretch to accomplish some part of the position.
This seems to be more preferable to businesses than hiring individuals with more skills, expertise, experience and education that can easily perform the position and also able to contribute to the business in many ways.
So, as individuals gain expertise, skills, experience, training and education, this can lead to undesirable positioning in the eyes of businesses.
Businesses and their management want to have a strong level of control over staff and employees.
Hiring of the higher skilled individuals that are now readily available for the middle to lower level positions creates business dynamics that many businesses would rather avoid.
I often hear, ‘we want to control staff and employees and their stability here: We do not want them to have this control by leaving us for better job positions at higher wages once the economy improves’.
Of course this is the ‘low road’ from weak mind sets but it is reality.
Often with businesses and companies, their current management staff are not as skilled, trained, educated and experienced as they should be.
The current job market in the US is flooded with highly skilled, educated and experienced individuals that are available.
Many businesses and management at all levels do not want to hire those with more expertise and knowledge than themselves because of personal ego, their own job protection and their discomfort of trying to manage those that have far more knowledge, experience and expertise than themselves.
You have confirmed what we have heard from so many others.
Please share with us some actual examples.
I can do this but will avoid giving you the name of the businesses and companies.
Of course, we understand.
I spoke with their Senior VP of Sales from a company that shared with me that she disliked sales and feared that highly skilled and educated individuals felt the same.
She stated that she would not hire the highest skilled and educated individuals due to this.
She went on to say how she noticed on my personal background, the importance to develop referrals and create a good brand in the marketplace to help increase sales and grow the company.
You will be surprised to hear that she stated that she did not believe in none of this and their business had no referrals and did little to create brand recognition in the marketplace.
After I explained more details on these fundamentals, she said that she still did not believe in any of it.
Obviously, she fails Sales and Marketing 101 on the fundamentals of sales, account management, marketing and growing the business.
Yet, she is their Senior VP of Sales.
I never heard back from her after our conversation.
I spoke with a Senior VP of Human Resources of a company that insisted that I tell him my compensation and wages of every position that I ever held; contract interim advisory and special project assignments, and full time positions; for my entire business career.
His bio on the company website mentioned that he had a bachelor degree and masters, in some subjects not stated. When I asked him what his subject areas or majors were, he would not tell me.
When I hesitated and told him that this financial information was private and personal between me, my accountant and the federal and state government; he boldly said that if I did not give him this detailed personal information that he would not forward my background and availability on to the president who was the key decision maker.
He went on to say that anyone making less than what their compensation is, will be viewed as ‘under qualified’ and those who have made more will be viewed as ‘over-qualified’.
He went on to explain that he believes in this approach to keep control of staff and employees.
Reluctantly, I gave him a range without specific details to help satisfy him but I have not heard from him again.
I spoke with a Manager of Human Resources of a multi-billion dollar US corporation who told me that he was under a corporate directive to screen out highly qualified and educated candidates and only hire those with lesser qualifications, skills, experience and education that fits the positions and lower pay levels.
He acknowledge that this was counterproductive and against basic human resources principles.
The person went on to say that the corporate level even went to the extreme to also have a directive prohibiting hiring anyone who graduated from college three or more years ago.
He went on to acknowledge that this is age discrimination but many other companies are doing the same these days and the US government cannot do anything about it.
He commented that if the US government tried to correct this discrimination, their company would just rewrite their policy to get around it.
A Senior VP of Human Relations from a medium size company called me about a management level position that I applied for to tell me that my expertise, experience, skills and education were more than all of their current management combined. He went on to say that even though from his perspective that the company could utilize my expertise to help grow the business, having to report to those far below my level of knowledge and expertise would not be comfortable for their current management; and so I am viewed as ‘over-qualified’ and not a good fit.
I just got spoke with an acquaintance. She told me that she recently went on two interviews for an office level position at a small business which she had experience and skills in and well qualified for. On the second interview, the owner of the business told her that she was ‘over-qualified’ and feared that she would eventually leave for a better paying position because she was taking some part time college courses locally to improve herself.
This same acquaintance told me about another office administration job position opening that she interviewed for. She was told that she had more knowledge, skills and experience in doing the job than the three management people currently employed at higher wages and that are struggling. She was told that they cannot hire her at half of their wages in a junior level position and she would do all of the work easily and proficiently and make the three others look bad.
Numerous executive recruiters have confided in me that their corporate clients are telling them the same with all of the above information.
This is frustrating and disheartening.
This cannot be good for US businesses and the culture, here in the US.
There are many skilled individuals if hired that could contribute to improving business and help grow the business in many ways, well beyond the current capabilities. Most welcome any job position at lower pay over the gloom of unemployment.
This is absolutely correct but the current general mindset in the marketplace is hindering this.
This is ‘Chaos’ that hinders US businesses, hinder economic improvement and hinders US businesses from improving their competitive edge globally.
This is all counterproductive in so many ways.
Yes, your comments are true but you would be surprised to know that this is also happening globally. This is not just an issue in the US. It is a global issue.
I am surprised to hear this.
I have spoken to numerous young adults who work in retail and fast food.
Many tell me about how they had to lie on their job application to avoid being viewed as ‘over-qualified’ They denied having completed education degrees so they would be hired for the hourly job.
Some also mention that they do not know how they can repay their college loans.
They tell me about their parents that are college educated with skills and considerable experience that are struggling seeking a position.
These college students tell me about how they are personally experiencing the effects on their parents and their family.
They worry about how they may be in the same situation as their parents are, one day.
We have heard this as well.
All of this is very concerning.
What do you think will happen with this situation?
I believe it may correct itself but I do not know when, how, to what extent or what will happen to encourage the improvement and changes.
Of course, a healthier US economy with more jobs creation will help.
To accomplish this there are many fundamental improvements and changes that are needed in the US.
1. Update international trade laws and regulations to stimulate fair and equal trade
2. Review of international trade organizations and membership of
3. Tax reforms of all types to help the business sector
4. Immigration laws and regulations reform and updating which is a sensitive issue
5. A true partnering effort from federal, state and local governments with the business sector
6. Reform of federal incentives of all types that are counterproductive for business, international trade and jobs creation
7. And several more fundamentals that are long overdue
I have this discussion with many people that have great insights, are highly educated and numerous others.
All are saying the same.
They just do not know when the needed changes and improvements will happen and to what extent.
All are amazed at the current situation and chaos.
I have had this discussion with many business owners and corporate executives.
They confirm that their organization do the same as what has been mentioned here and put the blame for their actions on the economy.
Most are embarrassed to some extent.
We have heard from so many others this ‘over-qualified’ situation that seems to be a real problem and counterproductive.
How can this happen?
This ‘over-qualified’ situation that is so common right now is detrimental to our culture and the future advancement of the US. It is detrimental to advancement of knowledge and way of life.
Here in the US for generations, advancing ones education and knowledge has been promoted by all.
Parents tell their children of the importance of getting more education.
Technology and medical science needs people to advance their knowledge and contribute with new ideas, new knowledge and advancements of all types.
Business organizations traditionally seek out individuals with higher levels of knowledge and expertise to help contribute to business improvements, product and service improvements and business growth.
The schools and universities promote the importance and benefits of obtaining higher education and training.
This is how we advance our knowledge, technology, health and way of life.
Now, our businesses have changed their attitudes of such with ‘over-qualified’.
This ‘over-qualified’ attitude has become a cancer to business and our culture.
It has negative effects on so much.
What do you say when you hear this ‘over-qualified’ negative attitude.
I speak up boldly immediately about such being nonsense, counterproductive for businesses, our culture and advancements of all types.
I ask, ‘When you need better health and possibly you are not feeling well, do you seek out the best doctor that you can find or do you say that a doctor is ‘over-qualified’ to help you gain health and feel better?”
I ask, ‘When your automobile is not working right or needing body work and needing fixing, do you seek out a good mechanic , hopefully one of the better ones around or do you say the mechanic is ‘over-qualified’ to work on your auto to make it better?”
I ask, ‘At home when one of your appliances need fixing, do you seek out a good repair person and hopefully one of the better ones or do you say that the repair person is ‘over-qualified’ to repair your appliance?”
I ask, “With your children and school, do you want the best teachers possible to work with your children to teach them and help them advance with their learning or do you say that the teachers are ‘over-qualified’ to work with your children?”
The same applies for business organizations and seeking out those with the highest level of skills and knowledge, to hire. To progress and get healthier, businesses cannot have the negative attitude of ‘over-qualified’.
The problem with this is that business organizations are allowing their management staff to conduct this negative ‘over-qualified’ approach that is detrimental to the business and to our culture.
Until this ‘over-qualified’ negative attitude becomes more public and gains more social scorn, this will not improve.
I would love to see television and radio advertisement and discussions on this subject to stimulate more awareness and how unhealthy it is.
We see this with cigarette smoking and drugs; we should see this with this issue as well.
Looking at these problems and issues in this perspective certainly makes many look fairly sick.
Yes it does
How did so many highly skilled and knowledgeable individuals become unemployed and so many individuals with possibly not as high of skills, expertise and knowledge keep their job positions and now are in positions to be part of promoting this ‘over-qualified’ negative attitude that is frequently happening now?
This is a great question.
I have asked this question with many people: the unemployed, the employed, executive recruiters, human resource executives, business executives, and management staff of all types both employed and unemployed.
I have heard several reasons.
1. Many of the highly skilled and more educated individuals seemed to have focused on their job, performing and possibly keeping their own training updated to stay current, ignoring internal politics and building important personal political relationships.
Others put far more efforts and attention to the internal politics and building those relationships.
When layoffs, downsizing and possible promotions came around, many of those individuals who did not build these internal political relationships became casualties while the others that had developed the internal political relationships survived.
2. When business did have layoffs and down-sizing, the individuals with the higher level skills and knowledge that may have been paid more were some of the first casualties. Some layoffs were based on level of wages, leaving those with lesser skills and knowledge at a lesser wage level to be employed and manage the business. These are the ones now influencing the hiring decisions and they make sure to protect their own job position security from all possible threats.
3. Many business organizations had this negative attitude of ‘over-qualified’ for many years but those with the higher level of skills and knowledge were able to find employment with other businesses that welcomed them. Now that the US economy is struggling and there are so many unemployed, this negative attitude of ‘over-qualified’ is compounding the problems and now more noticeable.
This interview subject is quite different to those in the past that we have had with you.
I know you were hesitant to share information with us on this subject but we do appreciate your willingness to do so.