Targeting the Job for Which You're Overqualified

Scaling Back Your Credentials May Help Secure Work in a Tight Economy

You have found yourself struggling to gain employment in your career field and your efforts have resulted in constant rejection despite years of experience. The tough economy has led to downsizing, corporate bankruptcy, and significant changes in employer recruiting methods. The job market has never been more competitive and good paying positions are extremely hard to come by. You have come to terms with this economical reform and are now willing to apply for positions below your pay scale and welcome a significant salary decrease for the promise of a paycheck.

Due to the increase in the unemployment rate over the last year, the amount of job applications employers receive has escalated and continues to rise at an alarming rate. Current events have caused an increase in employment screening efforts and capitalization of Web search-optimization tools. Use of these recruiting software programs to facilitate the pre-screening process has helped employers keep up with the overwhelming reaction to posted job vacancies. These programs are designed to identify applicants who not only lack the basic qualifications necessary to do the job, but can also recognize professionals who appear to be overqualified for the position.

In light of these changes, career professionals are recommending that overqualified job seekers tone down their resume to increase their chances at getting an interview. Most resume writers would define this approach as “dumbing down a resume”. I choose to describe this process as “creatively targeting”the position. Most posted job vacancies will list the necessary skills and qualifications that employers are looking for in a prime candidate. Using these job descriptions as a guide to writing your resume, just as I would advise any applicant applying for a specific job, is an excellent opportunity to highlight your RELEVANT skills, education, and experience as they apply to the job you are interested in. Omitting a college degree, especially a masters or higher, can help if employers are only interested in a bachelors degree. If you are applying for a truck driver position and your achievements indicate that you are an expert at sales management and leadership, your sales and leadership success and accolades are not relevant to the job you are applying for, so it may be best to just leave out these types of impressive achievements.

Why all the effort to avoid marketing yourself as a shining star? Hiring managers are not comfortable with putting a high-level candidate into an entry level or lower level position simply because these professionals are more likely to jump ship to seek better paying jobs. This creates costly involuntary turnover for employers and more work finding a suitable candidate to replace the one that just left.

Your job is to construct a resume that will get you an interview, and if you are applying for a lower-level position, (1) start by creating a separate resume that targets each position that you are interested in applying for. (2) Review the job description and highlight applicable key words relating to skills and education requirements to incorporate into your resume. (3) Keep your bullet statements to no more than three items per job, (4) and leave off “lofty” or “prestigious” titles.

Keep in mind that your primary goal is to obtain immediate employment and these recommended creative edits help professionals to do just that. After you’ve achieved this important milestone, you can then focus on staying true to your experience and career aspirations by seeking your dream job.

As featured in Associated Content