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Résumé Writing Roadblocks

Over-qualified Can Mean Unemployed

Job Seeker's Story

Bruce had negotiated an incredible compensation package in his last Director of Engineering position, where he had earned a six-figure income, and which had resulted in a three-year paid severance when he was downsized. However, it had now been three years and, though he had enjoyed the first year and been consulting for the last two, he was no closer to a job offer despite nine months of consistent job search. In frustration, he sought a career consultant to advise him on what he might be doing wrong.

The career coach, Misha, first looked at his résumé and noticed that he had earned his Ph.D., and when he introduced himself it was as “Dr. Seivers.” She asked Bruce if the positions he applied for ever asked for a Doctorate and he said no. She asked if his bosses typically had doctorates and he again replied no. She then explained to him that, although a doctorate was truly an impressive achievement and deserved recognition, it was most likely hurting him in his job search. She went on to tell him that if it was not a requirement for the job, he might be deemed as expecting too high of a salary, and if his superiors felt he was more highly educated than they were, that they might be intimated.

Bruce was unhappy and a little resistant to the suggestion but decided to give it a try on a few of his job applications. He removed the doctorate from his otherwise strong résumé, stopped introducing himself as a doctor, resumed his job search, and received an impressive job offer that represented a significant wage increase in less than 30 days.

Job Seeker's Stumble

As would most people, Bruce thought that advances in education would cause him to be perceived as a highly motivated professional focused on life-long learning. That is frequently the case in certain academic, scientific, and medical fields as well as for high-paid consultants and entrepreneurs, but in situations such as Bruce's, it just made him intimidating, potentially over-qualified, and possibly too expensive for prospective employers to consider.

Job Seeker's New Strategy

This is another easy fix. Be proud of the accomplishment but seriously weigh whether it is actually helping or hurting your job search candidacy. If, similar to Bruce, you are over-qualified based on educational requirements or always have a higher degree than the positions one to two levels above your target require, it is probably time to check your ego at the door and remove the degree from your résumé.

Should it be discovered that you have not listed your advanced degree you can explain that you left it off because it was not relevant to your job target: You pursued the degree for your own personal edification and felt it did not add to your qualifications for the position.

This same approach on disclosure can work on unrelated certifications and licensure (for another career field), early jobs that are several years old and irrelevant to your target, and sensitive items such as inappropriate hobbies.

Although it might feel little painful not to acknowledge your achievements, remember that the résumé is all about target marketing for your desired position. If you are not perceived as over-qualified, you will have a much greater opportunity to land the interview and get the job.

Job Search Bloopers © 2009 , Career Press, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesJob Search, Job Interview Questions, & Job Interview TipsRésumé Writing Roadblocks - Be Selective And Careful With Your Résumé Content, Caution: Résumé Typos Ahead!, Oh, The Tangled Web We Weave…