Resume Tips for an Overqualified Candidate

Resume tips for an overqualified candidateWhat good is a degree when there’s no jobs to apply?
And fast food won’t do ’cause you overqualified.
– Words from the song ‘Children of the World’, sung by Big K.R.I.T.
You strove hard all your life sacrificing ‘worldly pleasures’ that you could have enjoyed. While other kids spent time playing, you were studying; as a teenager you didn’t even go partying around like crazy when others did. As a twenty-something, you got the best job possible and were the shining star of the office, only to lose it one day, because the company downsized. You are out with no job. Out of desperation, you start sending your ‘power resume’ to each and every job available. Stepping up or down the career ladder doesn’t matter to you. What you want is just an appointment letter, but what you keep getting is rejection. And to make things worse, your rejection letters state that you are ‘overqualified’.

It’s a little difficult to understand and digest the fact that you got rejected because you were overqualified. But yes, that’s true! Companies think, rightly I might add, that overqualified people accept the job because they just want to be employed and take home a paycheck, and will eventually leave when they land a better job. Therefore, the time and money the company spends in paperwork and training goes waste. If you think from a company’s perspective, you will realize that their thought is also legitimate. But that doesn’t imply overqualified people cannot get a good job again. Of course they can, by applying a little smartness and editing their resume as per the resume tips given below.

Limit Your Goals

You may dream of becoming the CEO or starting your own company in the near future, but right now you want a job! Therefore, I would suggest that think practically and act likewise. You don’t have to forgo your dreams, keep them safe with you, but act according to the need of the hour. Again, I’m not asking you to be fake, but only a little selective while putting your goals down on your resume. If you are applying for an accounts executive position, keep your goals in line with the post, and write that you would strive to reach the top position in the field of accounting, and are ready to work hard for it.

Mention Only Selective Accomplishments

In your case, making a powerful first impression is not the issue. Your resume will ultimately do it for you. What you have to do is just the opposite; downplay your resume a little. By asking you to soften the resume, I’m not intending to say that you have to sell yourself short. You can very well go ahead and highlight your accomplishments, but only those that are relevant to the job you are applying for.

If the job profile is of a non-managerial level, and you mention terms that are in line more with a managerial level job, like supervision, policy making, or staff training, it’s likely that they might find you overqualified to fill the vacancy. Instead, focus more on work-specific points that are demanded of the position you are applying for. For example, if you tell them that your core strengths are bookkeeping, payroll, spreadsheet or database creation, it would earn you more brownie points. You have to research the job well and make a customized resume.

Add Only Relevant Work Experience

If your employment chronicle spans a whole page or more than that, then it’s high time you cut it short. Like I have mentioned in the previous sections, you have to be very specific as to what (not) to include. If you are switching careers, for example, jumping ship from HR to accounts, then it may be wise for you to drop the exhaustive HR role and responsibilities paragraph.

You may just write the name of the organization that you were working for and the duration. No need to elaborate too much. This is just to show the hiring company that there are no gaps in your employment chronology. If you feel that there are any coinciding points between the two jobs, like report and document preparation, keep them in mind and mention them in your interview, but not on the resume.

Highlight Only Required Academics

You may be a double post-graduate or may have earned the title of Doctor with a PhD, but if it doesn’t go well with the job profile that you are applying for, then you may have to omit these details. I understand that it feels awful to simply whitewash the hard-earned degree off your resume, but you have to do it. Let’s assume that the job profile in question is of finance and accounting in a clothing manufacturing company. You hold a master’s degree in commerce as well as business management, along with some short-term courses and certifications in accounting.

The HR department knows that you are ‘more than capable’ of filling the vacancy, but what they will also realize is that you are just trying to compromise for a short period of time, and may leave as soon as you get a better opportunity. It would force them to reconsider your candidature.

Customize the Cover Letter
I need not reiterate the importance of a properly-worded cover letter in the world of job search. Everybody knows that a cover letter sets the foundation before the resume is even opened. It acts as an advertisement for the resume. Therefore, if you want to walk in through the door of the employer, not only your resume, but also your cover letter should be equally impressive.
For the cover letter, I would say that you have to be straightforward instead of beating around the bush. Tell them that you want the job. Your experience, skill set, and talent makes you the right fit for it. Also, insist that you are looking towards developing a lasting relationship with the organization, and can see yourself with the company even 2 to 5 years from now. You have to remove the slightest doubt from the employer’s mind that you are just settling because you could not find anything better.

Even after drafting your cover letter properly, if you find that it may give a hint that you are overqualified, you can mention that the reason you want to give up your current job is to ‘improve the quality of your life, by reducing the stress and the long hours that are usually demanded by higher level jobs’. If you are pursuing any hobby, you can write that you wanted to give ‘your innate flair for writing’ a chance, therefore, want to opt for a less stressful job.

In summation, I would say be genuine and stick to your words. Be it any organization, you have to give yourself, as well as the organization, some time to develop mutual trust. Don’t just job hop if you find anything better. In today’s times, it is not difficult for one organization to cross-check or verify your credibility with the previous company. If they find that you keep telling the same story to every organization and then leave suddenly, you may land up in a situation where you may lose your current job, as well as get rejected from the applied job.

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