Overqualified? What You Can Leave Off Your Resume

Susan Hall

In his post, "The Frustration of the 'Overqualified' Job Candidate,"blogger Don Tennant cites business consultant and author Maribeth Kuzmeski's advice to address the issue head-on, calling it "the elephant in the room."

 

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She said:

The perception is that they will want to make too much money and all of that. But if you have an open position at your company, and you're looking for a person who can come in, step in and do the job, then there really is no such thing as "overqualified." Either you can do it, or you cannot do it. The rest of it is just things that we're assuming or perceiving that may or may not be true at all.

I also wrote about research from the University of Connecticut that found that companies should not shy away from hiring overqualified people on the theory that they will get bored and leave. Greg Reilly found that many of these workers are in these jobs because of quality-of-life issues or other reasons and that interviewers would do well to delve deeply into those reasons.

 

All that, of course, takes place at the interview stage of the process. What do you have to do to get to that stage if your resume paints you with too much education or experience to be happy at this lower-level position?

 


I asked Alesia Benedict, president and CEO of GetInterviews.com about that. The question: Is it wise to leave education and experience off your resume if you think you'll be perceived as overqualified?

 

Her answer: Yes.

When we work with clients, we teach them that they need to see their resume as a marketing document that showcases their skills, accomplishments and value to the potential employer. The resume is not designed to tell the reader the entire history of the job seeker. Most hiring managers spend less than 30 seconds reviewing each resume, so it is critical to include material that will catch the reader's eye and sway him/her to contact the job seeker for an interview. ...
If you think of the resume as a "commercial" for you, you will see that it should be viewed as a tool for getting the attention of hiring managers, and merely the start of the job search process. Many people believe the resume is what lands someone the job, but that is not the case: the interview is what lands someone the job, and the resume lands someone the interview. Hence, you need to focus on the experience, education, skill set and accomplishments that show the reader why you should be considered for the position.

That echoes the advice of Intuit recruiting director Chris Galy who in an interview stressed the need to target each resume to the particular position for which you are applying. He said:

I always tell people that you really have to understand the company. You really have to understand the job description. They're telling you what their needs are in that job description. The things that are most important to them are the things they put up first, those are the largest gaps.

Benedict also espouses the philosophy of "when it doubt, leave it out":

Job search is undeniably difficult these days and putting "everything but the kitchen sink" into your resume is not a good idea. You always want to make sure what you are including contributes strength to your resume, not just fills it up. It is often frustrating for job seekers to write their resume because they lose their objectivity and often want to include too many positions or details about a specific project, whereas we might advise that person to mention something briefly or leave it off entirely.
Again, remember that you are marketing yourself to a potential employer, and that your resume is the tool that will open the door: the material you include needs to be hard-hitting, concise and relevant to the position you seek. If it does not add to strength to your document, you can leave it off.


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