The Degree Dilemma

So, you’ve retired from a traditional job and have either a pension or some income through your personal retirement funds.  Or, you just live really frugally.  Either way, you need more moulah, but you don’t want to tie yourself into a traditional management or other job?

Piece of cake, right?   Just go get a job as a greeter at Walmart or a Barista at Starbucks.

Not so fast if you have a Bachelors degree, or heaven forbid a Masters of Anything.

It’s a strange employment market out there these days, for sure.  On one hand, there are underemployed recent college graduates slinging coffee everywhere.  On the other, both I and several of my acquaintances of a certain age have received flat out rejections from companies without even being granted an interview.    Reason?

Overqualified.  Or, the real head-scratcher…not qualified.  Seriously?  To scan bar codes?

As frustrating as this is, there are a few ways to circumvent the plethora of “apply online” processes that are ridiculously complicated,  and impersonal.  Here are some of my suggestions:

In-Person Applications

Go TO the store or business where you would like to work and ask to speak to the manager.   It looks much better if you ask for that person by name, so calling ahead to get it, or asking while shopping there is worthwhile.

Introduce yourself, and explain that you understand they are seeking XXX employees.  You have applied online, but that you realize they likely receive hundreds of applications and you want to take the time to come in personally and distinguish yourself from the crowd.   Does he or she have five minutes for a brief introduction?

Be ready to counter the “overqualified” argument.  Keep in mind that many managers are anxious about hiring someone with more qualifications than they possess.  This isn’t always the case, but sadly does happen.  Reassure them that you understand the job responsibilities and have done your time in their shoes.  You are just looking for some extra income and benefits, or something to do, or you love books or crafts and want to be in that environment….just be ready to address the issue.

It should go without saying that you dress the part, right?

Strategic Timing

Right now, many businesses in the US are gearing up for summer hiring.   Even if you want a permanent job, be willing to start with a temporary one.   Again, apply online, but follow up with an in-person visit.

The same applies in the Fall for holiday hiring.  But keep in mind, most companies post in the positions NOW for summer, and in September for holiday season.  Don’t wait too long.


I’ll be honest, I have REALLY mixed feelings about this one.  I am big on honesty.  And also tired of being told I am overqualified because I have a Masters degree.  Yes, I’ve been tempted to simply leave it off an application.   I can’t advise you to do this or not.

My absolute advice is to never, ever, no matter what, never FALSIFY an application with credentials you don’t have, or failure to report a firing or criminal situation.


Do you know anyone who knows anyone who knows the hiring manager or someone who works there?   See if you can get an introduction or someone willing to run interference.    Some positions are just bombarded with applications and the manager would love a candidate to stand out.

Follow These Steps:
  1. Make a list of the ten places you would most like to work.
  2. Check all the local job boards, national job sites, and the corporate web page under the link for “careers” for posted openings.
  3. Contact your friends, acquaintances, club members and see if you can find a contact link.
  4. Get the manager’s name.
  5. Put in the application online if required.
  6. Make your in-person contact.

Don’t give up if you don’t hear anything back, or receive a rejection.  If there is somewhere in particular you want to work, frequent it as a customer and keep trying.  It’s trite, but businesses want people working for them who like their products.


Recovering MBA. Writer. Photographer. Scanner. Learning Addict. Airplane Geek. Teacher. Certification Collector. Serenity Seeker. Semi-retiree in training.