Master's Degree: New Qualification for Scooping Ice Cream?

Master's Degree: New Qualification for Scooping Ice Cream?

It’s frustrating to be on the losing end of a job search—so frustrating, in fact, that people often expand said search to fields that they are much too overqualified for. People with decades of experience apply for entry level positions; people with master’s degrees apply to work at ice cream shops, only to be denied a position because they’re a “flight risk.”

Working at Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream and Yogurt in Virginia Beach takes 10 hours of job training, says the shop’s co-owner, and “That’s a lot of time. We get them to know what they’re doing. We hope they’ll stay with us and not walk out the door.”

Ten hours is a lot of time? This is probably news to the applicants—three of them with master’s degrees—who likely spent much more time on their education as well as any employment they may have previously held in this bleak economy.

While it’s fair to be discernable and picky with hundreds of applicants applying for a single job in many markets, is it fair to write someone off simply because they’re “overqualified”? Being told that the reason you can’t get a job—say, as a janitor, or as a store stocker—simply because you’re a “flight risk” due to your qualifications should surely be some form of age discrimination, right? Even the AARP says that if you’re younger, you’re more likely to get a callback.

The majority of employers—as well as temp agencies—are leaning toward the less seasoned when it comes to service and labor jobs. Plenty of consultant agencies even give tips on how to “spot” an overqualified worker to avoid a potential mess. Thinking that these employees will make a lifetime career out of a position—rather than use it as a solution to unemployment until the economy improves—they hire those with leaner resumes.

So where does that leave the MBA holder who is supporting a family, when he can’t compete with a teenager for a job grilling burgers and working the drive-thru window?

And it’s not just in these fields, either. Experienced lawyers are applying as paralegals in Norfolk, while accountants with years of experience are trying to get into entry-level CPA jobs in Richmond. What used to be a joke in films like Parenthood is now a reality—and while Steve Martin may have thought he would have had to start over, today’s workers aren’t even given the chance.