Are You Overqualified? Why Not Edit Your Resume?

Posted by in Career Advice




There are times, like when you are trying to make a career change, when applying for a job you're overqualified for makes sense. The problem is that it can be a challenge to be taken seriously for an entry-level job when you have a master's degree. As strange as it seems, in those cases, your past successes can be the very thing that's holding you back.



In general, it's not a good idea to apply for jobs that you're overqualified for. For one, it's not likely that you'll be happy with the job long term and many employers will be hesitant to take a chance on you. However, if you're changing careers, you have to start at the bottom. So what can you do to minimize the problem and get the entry level job you want?



It's simple - Edit your resume.



Your resume doesn't have to be a linear history of your job history. Instead, it can be a functional resume, which only lists your relevant work experience. If you choose this type of format, you can feel free to leave out the things that will hurt your chances at getting the job. Here are a few other things you can do:

 

  • Remove job titles - If your previous positions were significantly senior to the entry level position you're applying for, remove the job title from your resume. This way, instead of your resume stating that you were the VP of Sales, it will just say Sales.
  • Remove your highest degree - There are some experts who suggest that you should remove the highest level degree you have from your resume. By doing so, you'll lower your chances of being ruled out before you have had a chance to interview.
  • Don't lie - Never outright lie on your resume. Information is too easy to check and it will make you look bad. However, dumbing your resume down and leaving out information like your previous salary history might be a good option.

 

Have you ever applied for a job that you were overqualified for? What happened? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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  • Brian M
    Brian M
    Two nights ago, I applied for an entry-level accounting services job. I hold a BA in Human Relations & extensive management level coursework. I'm currently taking accounting courses at my local vocational technology center  & have recently completed my A/P & A/R certifications that are on my updated resume, that i presumed would be helpful, but i was very wrong. The response I received was "i feel your overqualified". I found the email response to be laughable at best. How does one navigate through the career change water when the current seems to push you further out or away from reaching your goal of getting an interview? Thanks
  • Diane T
    Diane T
    I'm 28 and I have a MBA in accounting, 5 years in a nonprofit and 1.5 in a for profit. I have found that because nonprofit accounting is specialized, I don't have exactly what for profit companies are looking for. The for profit position was a "down grade" since I was just in Accounts Payable. They hired me anyway knowing that i was overqualified in hopes of moving me up but I got bored fast and long story short I didn't want to work for the company. Right now, I fall in the middle. Either I don't have enough skills for sr accounts and up or I have too much for entry level/bookkeeping jobs. I had one company that was very concerned about my masters degree because of the pay. I was honest and told them it was a goal I set for myself and I wanted to follow through with it but I'm not looking to be a partner in a CPA firm. I'm looking for something stable. They were satisfied with that but I still ended up 2nd on the list because the other person was a referral and they could pay her $6,000 less because she only had 2 years experience. It's who you know. Age is not a factor. Most of the time is pay. I shouldn't have to omit my MBA from my resume just to get a job. I should be hired because I follow through on goals and strive to be great at what I do. They don't deserve me if they overlook me for being an overachiever. Shouldn't that be a good thing to have someone who will work hard to make your company grow? I'm not the best but I work hard and have great work ethics and morals.
  • Eliza G
    Eliza G
    Yes - I have applied and been hired in a position I was overqualified for.  There was petty resentment and jealously toward me by peers - this was a retail job. ( I have a Doctoral degree.) I felt taunted - like I was the captive smart one, 'the bourgois' amongst the rebelling lower classes.  I liked and admired my co-workers feom day one.  But - I later saw they resented me from day one.
  • Melissa Kennedy
    Melissa Kennedy
    Thanks for sharing, Louis. It's a shame when things like that happen to good people. I hope you find a better company to work for soon.
  • LOUIS C
    LOUIS C
    I applied for a construction job as projedt manager with a large builder. I was told that my resume made me a threat to senior management because I have done so much and may try to move up and take their job.
  • Melissa Kennedy
    Melissa Kennedy
    @jason - it is a shame and I'm not trying to justify it. However, leaving off information on your resume isn't lying. A resume is simply a marketing tool. You are not obligated to include everything. If you were to claim to have a degree and didn't - that would be a lie. There is a new trend to streamline a resume in order to target your skills to the job. It's called a "functional resume". If you're worried that you won't get the job because of your over-qualifications, use the functional resume to your benefit.
  • jason s
    jason s
    Its a lie to leave out your highest degree and its a pathetic travesty we live in a country that has an economy in the gutter and people don't hire cause someone may be better at doing the mediocre job their forced into than they do. If you have to down grade your life's biggest accomplishments and accolades to get employment you might as well just off your self because if subpar is what American businesses are looking for in this economy than there is no hope for America, the future or anything of significance . Not saying something or withholding information is the same as lying. You can take my word on it, I am a 29 year old with 4 degrees and graduated top of my law class and also unemployed.
  • Melissa Kennedy
    Melissa Kennedy
    Thanks for the great comments. I want to be a bit more clear about omitting information on your resume. Leaving things out isn't lying, and when asked in an interview or after being hired, don't deny your experience. These days, a resume isn't a complete biography of your professional life. It's perfectly acceptable to only include jobs and education that are relevant to the position. If your resume listed everything, the employer might assume that you are just looking for any job. To fight this, leave out things that aren't important to the job and then write a cover letter that explains that you are looking for a new career, a new opportunity or have decided to take a step back. This will show them that you are serious about the job, in spite of being over qualified. The goal here is to get an interview. Then, you can be a bit more candid and explain how the company gets the benefit of your experience for a low price.
  • Miguel
    Miguel
    I have done it and am not ashame to say i have but i didnt go over the top with it like some pelope do. I never put a company i didnt work. I just filled in a gap or two!lol Sometimes u have to do what u got to do to make it times are hard and these companies r being to picky for this lil pay!
  •  Selina M
    Selina M
    Great article. The difficulty in omitting information on your resume and/or application is that you can't always do it. For example, some employers have computerized online applications where they ask you to list all schools, degrees, job titles, etc. Quite frankly, it can be difficult to leave some information out of your resume or application. I have been labeled "over qualified" at an interview.  The employer also asked me why I really wanted the job, as I have a masters degree and I was making significantly more money than the position I was applying to. During the interview, I felt like I had to work extra hard to convince the employer to hire me. I did not get the position. I know they didn't hire me because they believed that I wouldn't stay in the position. I thought they would hire me because I told them I was making a career change and I had the experience. Unfortunately, it didn't work out for me.
  • vernesia w
    vernesia w
    One site says dumb down your resume, another says don't!  This makes sense, because you are not dumbing it down, you are 'selectively omitting' certain things like say your higher degree you obtained thinking you would be able to get a better job.The generalizing of your work history is a good idea as well, simply because if you were once a manager, and now you are trying to get in at entry level - the hiring manager wont set your resume on fire because you are 'overqualified' for the position in question!
  • Tiffany B
    Tiffany B
    I have been trying to change directions in my career but no one will hire me because I am not qualified. It is so stressful. I can't get a job with what I know, and I cant get a job learning something new? Age too? If I say my age, am I too young and if I don't fill out my age, then do they know already I'm old? Am I not getting the job because I am not a certain nationality?  Here is the kicker, I know people who have no experience of that job what-so-ever and they are hiring them? When I do finally get called for an interview, they look and act like I have been laying around on my butt doing nothing. That isn't fair. I can't figure it out? What am I doing wrong?
  • Sharon D
    Sharon D
    I have one doctorate and  I think I have earned the equivalent of a PhD in resume writing due to my experience in applying for different positions. I finally gave up, spent a lot of money to have my resume professionally written, only to realize that the professional writers aren't that knowledgeable either. I have finally created a basic format that seems to be getting a few interviews. After the interview, I send in the requisite "thank you for the interview"e-mail and never hear back. They can see that I am not 25 years old with 10 years experience in (fill in the blanks). Possible temporary solution? I accepted a poorly paid part time position, with a local company doing telemarketing. when department closed down, I was asked to retrain for a customer service position. Now I can definitely claim that I have more than 2 years of experience in sales and/or customer service and two supervisors who haven't drifted off into the universe as so many others have. In addition, I can add to my list of software/technology, even if it is ancient.  Am I counting my blessings? You bet. In today's job market, being unemployed makes you a pariah! I can say that I am employed (even part time) which means that I have some value to some employer.
  • Carol D
    Carol D
    Good advice.  I have done this, and it works, but found I cannot make myself into a micromanaged, minutia loving, small picture thinker, so it is better to be honest on my resume and avoid working for people who are intimidated by ideas.
  • Elisabeth C
    Elisabeth C
    I have been looking for a position for several months. I was upset when someone told me to dummy down my resume. I have the experience and why would someone not hire me if I'm qualified. I have had to NOT include some things that I have done, which still upsets me but I starting to get replies back. It's stupid to me but if you want the job you have to think about what you are putting out there.
  • PETER O
    PETER O
    Thank you for the above article. I have applied for several jobs which are slightly below what I used to do and have always been hesitant in writing my full qualifications. Now you have given me confidence to edit my resume and tailor it according to posted job.But still it comes to one question,what if they  find out?Will they trust you?I think trust is one of the main foundation of any employer or what do you think?
  • Leann M
    Leann M
    I agree about dumbing down my resume and leaving out your highest degree. I want to change industries and can't even get an interview because I appear to be over qualified.
  • Ron T
    Ron T
    Question:  If you omit your masters degree from your resume, and they hire you, what should you do if they ask you to fill out an application  as part of their newhire paperwork?  Should you omit the masters degree from the application, also?  If they check your credentials, they will find out .
  • LaSonya S
    LaSonya S
    I have gained experience in my past jobs and I detail it on my resume but I don't think I'm overqualified for the job I really want.  I never get the  chance to interview for those anyway.  
  • Linda F
    Linda F
    I agree I was in management for the last 15 years and now that my job was eliminated cause operations sent to main corp in MA and I retired all I want is a part time job.  I am not good at simplifying my resume that a co did for us on a disc before we left.
  • Dennis M
    Dennis M
    My problem is not being overqualified because I have not listed all my background.  I do have a problem though and that is age.  When I go for an interview I get that look right away.  Also I have lost weight since i have been unemployed.  My wife says I look too thin.  I am about ready to just say "to heck with it and just retire".  I was a tire dealer for 25 years.  I kind of miss it but what can I do?      
  •  Wendy M
    Wendy M
    What an excellent idea, to edit your resume as not to overwhelm or appear as I was told in my last interview "exceedingly over-qualified". I was always trying to show all my skills, all my jobs, all my qualifications; to show the potential employer that I have many skills and an extensive background. But that philosophy backfired terribly. Though the interviewer had no concerns about me performing the job, he was openly fearful of leaving the job. Instead of me trying to convince the interviewer I could perform the job, I was trying to convince him that if he gave it to me I wouldn't leave. It was an extremely awkward situation. To avoid situations such as this in the future, I will definitely edit down my resume. This is an excellent article!
  • Mario S
    Mario S
    Wow, very interesting what people go through to get employed again.Although it isn't for everyone but the real thought is that while working for "someone else" we have relinquished control of our lives. We must save and save and do something on our own that we can control when we are "let go", even if we work 24/7 but it's ours.I believe education is something we owe to ourselves, it makes us better people, unemployed but better prepared to not take our frustrations on someone else.  We made that choice.  I do see what others go through despite all efforts to better ourselves.  Keep the faith in yourself, have integrity, that should NOT be negotiable.  I liked the response from the candidate that DID get the job " I am not overqualified - I am the best qualified".  Beautiful!  that's keeping your dignity and pride at a humble and yet realistic level.   MDS
  • Sudath Heendeni V
    Sudath Heendeni V
    Yes I have already started editing my resume to suit lower level jobs. Its a good idea to mention functional aspect and touch little on responsibility while omitting the high post/capacity we held. But at the interview too we have to adjust our experience and limit it to mild ones instead of explaining serious ones. I lost much opportunities due to this. But if the interviewer ask whats the post we held can we lie? That's the biggest issue for a genuine candidate.
  • Matthew W
    Matthew W
    I have been denied work due to being over qualified. During the interview, I was asked,  Do you really think you'll be happy working here ?  Will you continue to seek employment you have experience in ?  Long story short,I didn't get the position.

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