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“Overqualified” is the last word that a job seeker wants to hear.
First of all, it’s hard to pinpoint why the job interviewer feels you are too qualified for the job.
Do they feel it is beneath you?
Do they feel that you are too old or mature for the job?
Is overqualified code for “I don’t like you”?
Most often (and when the interviewer is being sincere), overqualified means that the job is at a lower level than your previous experience or your education places you. It means that the interviewer feels that in just a short while you may become restless in your job and begin to look for other opportunities, or want advancement faster than they can offer it.
Usually, they simply don’t want to waste your time, or theirs.
While this is generally a compliment of your abilities, being overqualified in a tight job market means you are left jobless for an extended amount of time. It means that even though you know you are overqualified for a job, you may be willing to take a step or two back to feed, clothe, and house your family.
It also means you may have to dumb down your resume in order to get the job you want.
It Happens All The Time
I personally went through a very tough period after college where I was overqualified for all entry-level jobs and not experienced enough for jobs where I had an adequate education.
Eventually, I found a job with a small company for an employer with a huge ego who was not threatened by my education. Even though I hated the job, I remained for a couple of years until I had the experience and education to move up.
For most people on the job market right now, such jobs are hard to find — especially for more experienced workers. So the question is often asked, “Should I dumb down my resume to help get my foot in the door?”
Experts Advise Against It
I don’t advocate leaving off their degree, but I think it is important that they get across in a cover letter, and if it gets to this point, an interview that they are more than eager to roll up their sleeves. When hiring, I always appreciated when candidates were upfront that while they realized the day-to-day wouldn’t be the most glamorous of tasks, they were motivated by the fact that these are necessary steps in reaching the overall goals and missions of the organization. — Kate Warren, Recruiter
It has been suggested that if you are too qualified for the jobs you are seeking, you might want to change industries altogether.
Dumbing down your resume can be construed as dishonest, and then you might not get the job. We encourage applicants to be very honest on their resumes, because there can be many bad repercussions if you’re not. — Steve Pogorzelski, president of Monster.com
Personal Experience Says Otherwise
Still, after 2 years of job searching, a close relative of mine severely edited his online resume and suddenly the calls started flooding in. Initially, it seemed that no recruiters were willing to interview him because his resume signaled that he had a great deal of experience and might want big money. Once he was passed on to the actual employer however, he handed in his complete resume and landed a job rather quickly.
Another relative who was beginning a career as a nurse was encouraged to leave off all unrelated experience and education from her resume in order to land a job. She got no offers, probably because it looked as if she had done nothing for her entire adult life. When she finally did land the job she wanted, they happened to have one of her older resumes on file that included a full work history and education.
Therefore, I guess the moral of this story is to be careful when dumbing down your resume in order to get a job. Resumes that don’t oversell you may get you in the door of some companies, but to land the job, you need to be truthful and honest because character is more often sought over experience and education.
More About Dumbing Down Resumes
I have been a certified tightwad since I became pregnant with my first child and decided to find a way to stay home with him. I enjoy sharing my experiences in my journey back to financial health and planning for a future — which will include sending 2 kids to college and early retirement.