Two Master’s Degrees, No Job. What am I doing wrong?

Workplace expert Jane Harper says that when you have two quantitative master’s degrees and can’t find any type of significant employment, the best thing to interview effectively. But, that’s just not it. You’d better have more skills to go along with the degrees. Hi Jane, I have a master’s degree in mathematics and one in financial mathematics, both from outstanding institutions. That being said, it looks like my GPA and the college I went to are irrelevant. At the beginning of my job search, I applied for competitive jobs only. Gradually, as time passed, I realized I must apply for anything where a degree is necessary. Lucky for me, I have been living off a small inheritance, but the money is almost gone now. Two weeks ago, I applied to be a teller at a local Target. I haven’t received a single email or phone call for an interview. I’m 29, and I have no relevant work experience apart from the two internships that I did during my degree program. What am I doing wrong? I couldn’t be the only one with two master’s degrees and no job. Perhaps, you could share some tips on how to interview effectively?

What Jane Harper has to say…

You were auto-disqualified for the teller position and probably plenty other entry-level positions because you’re overqualified. The basic thought process is that you’re going to be dissatisfied with the position and won’t stick around. For starters, here’s what you need to do:

One, insurance companies and banks hire people like you. I recommend you look into private investing funds, real estate investment funds (REITs), and all those types of companies that need people who are excellent at math. You could apply at Colliers International, Jones Lang Lasalle, and CBRE, which are some of the biggest names in the real estate investment industry.

Two, you need to be aggressive in sending out applications. Try submitting at least five applications each day, across all industries and sectors. Tailor your CV to match the job, instead of sending out generic CVs to different employers. You never know how and when you end up with a well-paying dream job offer in hand.

Three, get in touch with people from within and outside of your professional network. Also, optimize your LinkedIn profile and start making connections with recruiters. Hiring managers no longer wait for resumes to pop up in their email. (Did you know that nearly half of all hires are made from job referrals?) Managers go out and find people like you on platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter and Jobs on Facebook. The new jobs feature on Facebook is a long shot, but it’s worth trying.

Four, work hard on your interviewing skills. If you’re a clueless candidate, learn the basic tips on how to interview effectively. While you’re at it, you should also invest in some interpersonal skill building. You may also take classes in things like Excel, SQL, programming, etc. You may also take up actuarial exams. Some of these credentials will prove to be a huge advantage in any analysis-based field. Job hunting sucks, but you’ll get there. It’s just a matter of time and getting the information into the right hands.

Q&A with Jane: The brutal and straightforward answers to HR-related queries and concerns. Send in your queries with the subject line ‘Ask JANE HARPER’ at

Jane Harper
Writer. Human resources expert and consultant. Follow @thehrdigest on Twitter

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