Even when you have the education and professional background to qualify for the job, don’t count on it as a sure win that you will be asked to come in for an interview. In fact, your qualifications may hinder your chances.
It’s very common in today’s market for employers to dismiss a job applicant’s application and resume because they are “overqualified.” Yes, you read correctly. It’s not a matter of being under qualified, but overqualified. The fact is today’s market has an abundant supply of highly qualified candidates but not enough jobs to go around for everyone.
More candidates are resorting to applying for positions where the level of expertise required on the job is below their previous position’s requirements. Many candidates today are also choosing to change careers, starting at an entry level, where there may be more job opportunities.
The challenge for today’s job applicants is not simply competing with so many other applicants but finding a fine balance of information to place on their resume without coming off overqualified. Employers are mostly concerned that, if you take a lesser position, you will leave once your find a position that is more commensurate with your skills.
Here are a few tips to help guide you in preparing your resume for the next job opportunity and avoid coming off overqualified and ruining your chances at the opportunity.
- Only include relevant work experience.
Focus on what the employer is looking for and show them you can do it. If some of your management experience is not a part of their job description, then don’t mention it. This tip is especially critical for applicants moving from one career to another.
For instance, if you had your own mortgage or construction firm and are now just looking for a sales job, just speak to your experience driving sales. You can also change your title from Owner (no one searches for Owners) to Sales Manager. Consider having a Career Highlights section before your professional experience that showcases your very impressive sales results before they read about your career chronology.
- Highlight only degrees you obtained that are necessary to qualify for the job.
Many of today’s positions require candidates to have a bachelor’s or master’s degree. If you continued to pursue education to obtain other degrees, earning you the title of Ph.D., M.D. or others, don’t be so quick to include that information on your resume. You have to ask if it is at all relevant to the job you are applying for. It’s great if you moved on to obtain your Ph.D. in neuroscience, but if the employer’s business and the job is focused on finance and accounting for toy manufacturing/distribution, your additional education will be of little relevance and may sway an employer to reconsider whether you are relevant for the position.
- Work your cover letter to give a sufficient explanation as to why you want the job and how your experience, skills and talent make you the right fit.
The last thing an employer wants is a new hire who took the job because he couldn’t get anything better and is just settling. Give the employer confidence that you are challenged by the opportunity and will be there a year from now. If there is the chance your resume comes off as overqualified, in addition to working the tips above, make sure to provide sufficient explanation in your cover letter. Many people are focusing more on quality of life and are willing to give up the stress and long hours of management positions, so don’t be afraid to state that. The employer needs to know that you are not simply taking the job because you can’t find anything better. They also need to be assured that you aren’t going to be quick to run off to another job as soon as the market improves or another opportunity opens up that is more in line with your level of experience from your previous position.
Your resume is a marketing tool to help get your foot in the door for an interview. Placing too much information or irrelevant information will only give the employer more reason to dismiss you. Carefully review the job posting and do your research to really understand what skills and talents are desired for the position so that you present your resume and qualifications in the best light. Not everything you’ve accomplished, regardless of how significant it is, is appropriate to include in your resume. Think to yourself about whether what you’ve presented is too much information and not enough relevance. Employers review resumes to find a reason to reject a candidate.