A reader writes…
I am a 62 year old accountant former controller. I think it is time I dumb down my resume because I feel hiring managers think I am overqualified and/or will not stay when the economy improves. What do you recommend?
Don’t you just cringe every time you’re told:
- You have too much experience
- Your previous position was much more senior-level
- You’re too highly paid
- Or (another “classic”) you have too much education?
Being coined as “overqualified” (which, by the way, is code for “not a good fit”) is a problem that many people encounter. In fact, sometimes you won’t even know this is what a potential employer is thinking… you’re just simply never called back!
Now, should you “dumb down” your résumé?
However, you should ensure that your résumé is tailored for the specific position you are going for. I’ve written several posts that include résumé tips (take a look at this post I wrote earlier this month — “How to Tailor Your Résumé” http://anitaclew.com/2011/01/13/how-to-tailor-your-resume/#comments).
There are ways to get around this issue without discounting your previous experience or qualifications. Consider the following:
- Draw attention to your skills and accomplishments – NOT job titles
- Do not discuss salary. Make it clear from the beginning that your previous salary is not relevant to your current job search.
- Demonstrate loyalty. Let them know that you’re looking for a long-term career. Point out your longevity with previous employers, if it’s relevant. This may help overcome the fear that you’re going to jump ship the minute the economy changes or a “better offer” comes along.
Let’s do a little role playing, shall we?
The Interviewer: Thanks for your interest, but you seem overqualified for this position.
You: Can you please elaborate? What are you specifically concerned about? (Find out why they’re making this assumption and nip it in the bud right away.)
The Interviewer: We think you’ll be bored on the job.
You: Before applying for this position, I seriously considered the job duties and responsibilities. I actually think I would be a perfect fit. Here’s why….
The Interviewer: You have held much higher positions, including management. Here you would be reporting to a direct supervisor and would have to handle a variety of projects and tasks.
You: That is EXACTLY what I’m looking for. You need a team player, someone who is ready to roll up his sleeves, take direction, and contribute to a common goal… (Don’t get too carried away and overwhelm the hiring manager with your experience and qualifications – this can be particularly intimidating to younger hiring managers – remain confident and keep things in moderation.)
The key is to come to each interview prepared to address this concern. Be honest and upfront about what you’re looking for and why the particular position is of interest to you. Remember, you may need to adjust your résumé (emphasizing skills, qualifications, ways you generated revenue, saved money, etc.) more than job titles. You should be proud of your role as a Controller (for example), but seeing such a prestigious title in a résumé may prohibit you from being considered before you even have a chance to explain your situation in an interview.
Hey readers, have you been told you’re overqualified for a position? How did YOU overcome that?
Look forward to hearing from you!