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VOL. 35 | NO. 28 | Friday, July 15, 2011
Get a job!

Overqualified? What can I do?

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In today’s employment market, employers can be extremely picky in selecting job applicants to interview. If you appear on paper to be overqualified for an available position, many recruiters and hiring managers might not give you any consideration.

How can you determine if you are overqualified?

If a potential employer says “This job may not challenge someone with your qualifications,” that might be a good indication of over qualification.

Perhaps you not getting interviews for jobs you know you are more than qualified to fill.

Compare your credentials to requirements of positions for which you are applying. Are they more than required? If so, there is a good chance you fall into the overqualified category.

So, what can you do?

Making adjustments to your resume and, of course, accompanying cover letters can help.

Create a functional resume instead of a chronological one. This can be accomplished by sorting experiences into skill groups that focus on qualifications needed for the job, instead of emphasizing the length or extensiveness of past positions.

Place a little “spin” on your qualifications.

A good application and resume for any position should be created to match the employer’s needs as closely as possible. Make changes that are truthful, but mold your self into a more appealing candidate.

Consider not mentioning your advanced degree. Instead, list it as continuing education accomplishments. This allows you to mention the value of your training without appearing overeducated. And it is still truthful.

Make terminology changes and moderate executive-sounding titles, especially if extravagant. For example, use a heading such as manager rather than vice president. Or adjust the title of managing director to team leader. These changes are still in the spirit of your experience.

You can omit dates of graduation. By doing this you permit yourself to leave off years of later experience that may not be necessary for the position you are applying.

Candidates in most fields are free to present themselves in the way they see most fit (outside of lying). Don’t restrict yourself to some preconceived idea of how it should be done. Just like a product there is more than one way to sell your abilities.

Some job seekers, however, find it hard to sell themselves.

Be prepared in the interview to explain your resume and qualifications. Interviewers are looking for someone to perform well in the position. Stay focused on why you can do the job. Only answer about specific tiles, education or other adjustments if asked. Have a prepared response.

Some recruiters will suggest you not change titles or make these suggested adjustments. However, they are normally in the role of eliminating applicants. They are not in the role of obtaining a position. You are.

In some employment fields, such as law or medicine, leaving things out of your resume or not following a strict format may not be acceptable. This will not be an issue in most industries.

As is in most career decisions, there isn’t an easy answer about what to keep or delete on a resume. Reflect on how to make the document appealing to a prospective employer, while still painting a portrait you are comfortable with presenting. When you feel confident about your presentation on paper and in person, you have a greater chance of success.

M.B. Owens is a Nashville-based columnist and journalist with a decade of experience writing on employment topics and business. He can be reached at mariusowens@aol.com.

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