Overqualified?

Dear RSL,

I’ve applied for multiple jobs and keep being told that I’m “over-qualified” for the position.  I know I have the skills
needed and would do a great job and isn’t someone who has experience doing the same thing preferred?  What does “over-qualified” really mean?

Wow…first day back from vacation and you hit me with a good one!  Being considered “over-qualified” for a position can mean an array of different things.  A lot of it depends on what industry, type of job, etc.  Start by looking at the job description.  After reading the job description and matching it up to what you’ve done and where you currently are at in your career, how does it match up?  Would the position be a lateral move for you, a step back or a step up on the career ladder?  Most likely if you’re being told that you’re over qualified, it would be seen as a step back.

Why are you applying for positions that are a step backwards in your career versus a step up?  Are you not receiving feedback for positions that require experience more in line with where you are at in your career?  Perhaps
it’s time to talk with a resume writer or invest in a resume writing seminar.  Chances are; there is nothing in your resume that is catching the eye of the recruiting and/or hiring manager to make them want to jump at the chance to talk to you.  Are you customizing your resume and cover letter for each specific position?  Are you making sure that keywords and phrases used in the job description show up in your resume?  This is something simple you can do now that will make a huge difference to your future applications.

Getting back to over-qualified and how recruiters use it in communicating with their candidates.  Most times when a recruiter lets a candidate know they’re over qualified, it’s because the position would be a step back.  Even if a  candidate says they’re willing to take a step back it’s still considered a “risky” hire.  Why?  Because past hires have shown that hiring someone that’s overqualified often leads to an employee that’s unhappy in their job, bored and unchallenged.  Most companies are looking for those employees that are looking to continually improve their skills; which in most cases entails moving up within their profession or chosen career path.

If you’re being told why you’re not being hired, use this information to your advantage.  Update your resume.  Start looking for positions that are a better fit for your skill set.  Don’t give up, just tweak your search.

Are you overqualified for the positions you’re applying for?

Resume Survis Lady is written by Billye Survis. To have your resume or job search questions answered by Resume Survis Lady, send your questions to: resumesurvislady@gmail.com

Feel free to also connect with Resume Survis Lady:

Twitter:  resumesurvisldy

LinkedIn:   http://www.linkedin.com/in/billye

SOLVE THE RIDDLE: TRANSLATING A POSITION DESCRIPTION INTO SUCCESS

So you’ve printed out your resume, highlighted key phrases, and written some great questions for each
of the central bullet points. Now we need to take a deeper dive into the position description – section
by section.

The company description section of the position description is a great place to hunt for the values and
hints about the corporate culture. Remember that much time and energy has been put into mission
and vision statements and this is a big clue on how the company wants to be perceived. Think about
the difference between “customer-focused” and “results-driven” in the mission statement. Most
importantly – this changes the lens by which you will create your cover letter and what you will want to
convey during the interview.

The position overview will provide some details about reporting structure and general responsibilities.
One of the biggest flaws I see in position descriptions occurs in this section – it is often quite difficult to
determine what the actual day-to-day responsibilities are. The verbs, or action words, that are used will
provide some additional context. What’s the difference between “direct” and “oversee”? If you need to
pull out the dictionary and look the words up – there are subtle differences that may have some impact
on how you portray yourself.

Human Resources and the employment relationship reflect one of the fastest growing areas of litigation
in the United States today. And with that comes something most HR folks dread – compliance. If a
company has government contracts, they are required to follow OFCCP. Aside from sounding scary,
this alphabet soup has a big impact on your job search. If a company uses the phrase “minimum
qualifications” in the requirements section this means that they are truly minimum qualifications. The
HR representative is not allowed to consider you for the position unless you have these qualifications.
Do not waste your time on applying for positions that you only have 3 out of 5 the minimum
qualifications.

The additional requirements section is where recruiters puts the “nice to have” elements of a job. If
you have many of these skills and abilities, you have an increased chance to landing the position. You
will also notice that many of the “soft skills” of the positions are mentioned here. Be sure to use those
themes in your cover letter, resume, and for your interview preparation. Here’s one way to think
about it: If the company says they are “customer-focused” you will want to prepare an example story
to demonstrate of when you delivered exceptional customer service. Also, sometimes you will see
a requirement such as “must come to work on time and be ready to contribute” – which sticks out a
little bit or doesn’t have the same voice as the other parts of the description. This may be a clue that
the person in the role before you had problems with punctuality or brought problems at home into the
workplace. In these cases, be sure to highlight your punctuality throughout the hiring process.

In summary, use the key words and phrases used in the position description when you are tailoring your
cover letter, resume, and through the interviewing process. Pay particular attention to the verbs being
used. Make sure that when preparing for your interview that you are able to highlight examples in your
work history that reflect not only the tasks/skills of the position, but also the values of the organization.

And finally, remember to use the 5 W’s: who, what, where, when, and why to be able to ask exceptional
questions during the interview. Good luck!


Angela Harris has a 15 year career in human resources, with several years in management consulting and quality. She current works at ASQ, the American Society for Quality, where she works on the development of ISO standards.  In addition to working at ASQ, Angela owns a consulting practice (ASHconsulting), is a Wisconsin Forward Award Examiner, sits on the SHRM Task Force for Metrics & Measures, is on the Board of Directors for the Wheaton Franciscan Foundation for St. Francis & Franklin, and was Executive Director of Milwaukee JobCamps.  She received her M.S. in Human Resources from Marquette University.

Feel free to connect with Resume Survis Lady:

Twitter:  resumesurvisldy

LinkedIn:   http://www.linkedin.com/in/billye

SOLVE THE RIDDLE: HOW TO READ AND ANALYZE POSITION DESCRIPTIONS

When I work with my job-seeking clients, one of the first skills I teach them is how to read and analyze a position
description.  This is a critical skill that all job seekers must learn.  Once you get the hang of it you will realize it is fun – like solving a riddle.  Think about it this way:  does your resume convey everything there is to know about you and your experience?  Of course not!!  The position description serves the same purpose:  it provides the starting point for a very important conversation.

There are many benefits to learning how to read a position description.  You will:

  • Only apply to those positions you are actually qualified for – saving time and effort
  • Save your reputation with recruiters by not applying to things you aren’t qualified for
  • Be able to better tailor your cover letter and resume
  • Discover what made your predecessor successful (or not!)
  • Be well-prepared for an interview
  • Be able to better guessimate the compensation range for the position

So with all those benefits, I know you are ready to take the first step.

STEP #1:  PRINT OUT THE DESCRIPTION

After a quick scan and interest, print out the position description.  This is not a time to worry about trees – most descriptions will be 2-3 pages and the investment you make here is well worth it.  Once you have a job – feel free to make a donation to your favorite environmentally-friendly group.  I have found that I can read more easily on paper versus the computer screen.

STEP #2:  ACTUALLY READ THE POSITION DESCRIPTION

I mean actually READ it.  Not skimming.  Not scanning.  Not reacting.  Read the document for COMPREHENSION.
Pay particular attention to the verbs being used in the general responsibilities section.  The verbs not only give you a clue to actual tasks, but also to the level of responsibility of the position.  For example:  there’s a big difference between “Manage multiple communications projects…” and “Deliver web-based content by target deadlines.”

STEP #3:  HIGHLIGHT THE KEY WORDS

Get out your favorite color highlighter and find the 5 or 6 phrases or sentences that seem to be central to the position.  Use a different color to highlight industry jargon, certifications, or buzz words. You should use these exact key words in your cover letter and resume.  For example:  if the position description says “Must be proficient in Microsoft Office” write “Microsoft Office” – if it says “Word, Excel, and PowerPoint,” write the same.  This will ensure that when a recruiter runs “Google-like” searches in an applicant database, your resume will come to the top.

STEP #4:  WRITE QUESTIONS ON THE DESCRIPTION

In the above example, I would want to know WHO I am managing, HOW many projects, and WHAT type of communications they are referring to.  Back in high school, I remember learning the 5 W’s – who, what, where,
when,
and why.  And let’s go ahead and add the how too.  You should have questions for all of the key bullets on the description.  Writing these questions down will have many benefits for the interview process, particularly with the hiring manager.   First, having this completed will show that you took the time to read and understand the role.  Opening the interview with, “I read the position description and I have some questions I really would like to ask you…” allows the interview to become less Q&A style and more like a conversation – which is better for everyone.

In a follow-up blog, I will show you how to look at each of the key sections of a position description and how to use that information to land your next job!


Angela Harris has a 15 year career in human resources, with several years in management consulting and quality. She current works at ASQ, the American Society for Quality, where she works on the development of ISO standards.  In addition to working at ASQ, Angela owns a consulting practice (ASHconsulting), is a Wisconsin Forward Award Examiner, sits on the SHRM Task Force for Metrics & Measures, is on the Board of Directors for the Wheaton Franciscan Foundation for St. Francis & Franklin, and was Executive Director of Milwaukee JobCamps.  She received her M.S. in Human Resources from Marquette University.

Feel free to connect with Resume Survis Lady:

Twitter:  resumesurvisldy

LinkedIn:   http://www.linkedin.com/in/billye

Hundreds Of Resumes And No Response….

Dear RSL,

I’m in the middle of a job search and I have sent out what seems like hundreds of resumes.  Other than a couple of interviews and a handful of emails letting me know I was not being considered, I have not heard
anything.  Is this normal?

Searching for a new position can be daunting and at times a bit frustrating.  You’re doing a lot of work trying to find a new position and would like someone to acknowledge that they’ve at least received your resume.
So why are you not getting a response?  There could be a number of reasons as to why you’re not hearing anything back.  First of all, take a step back and look at the jobs that you are applying for. Look at the job description and what is stated as minimum or basic qualifications.  Do you have the experience and skills that are required for the position?  Or instead of having the qualifications feel that you could do the job and be good at it?  Chances are if you do not have the experience and skills required for the position and instead feel it’s something you’d be good at, only those applicants that do have what the company is looking for will move to step in the process.

Another reason that you might not be getting a response to your resume is because of the sheer number of applicants that are applying.  Take one of the positions that I am currently recruiting on.  It’s an electrical engineer position.  In one day alone I received 25 applications.  It is not unusual for me to be dealing with over 100 applicants or more for a position.   Of the applicants that apply to a position, I will only forward the top candidates to the hiring manager for consideration.  If you’re applying to positions that have a lot of applicants, it might be that your application was received too late to be considered or that there were other applicants more qualified.

While it would be nice to receive some type of notification with every resume that is sent, not all companies are set up to respond to the large number of candidates that have applied.  Also remember that if you haven’t received a response to your resume submittal, it’s okay to follow-up to ensure your application was received and to find out if you’re being considered for the position (https://resumesurvislady.wordpress.com/2011/04/19/help-who-do-i-follow-up-with/).

Resume Survis Lady is written by Billye Survis. To have your resume or job search questions answered by Resume Survis Lady, send your questions to: resumesurvislady@gmail.com

Feel free to also connect with Resume Survis Lady:

Twitter:  resumesurvisldy

LinkedIn: Resume Survis Lady

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Resume-Survis-Lady/150368705033497

Who Do I List As My References?

Dear RSL,

I am going to my second on site interview for a position I really want.  The company has asked me for a list of references.  Should I include personal references, peer references, managers or a combination?  What types of questions does a company ask a reference?

Great question!  A company asking for references is a good sign! When you are preparing your list of references, it’s always good to have a combination of people including at least two people who you have directly reported to as well as one or two peers.  There really is no need to add a personal reference unless it is an entry-level position or a first position.

To answer your next question as to what to types of questions a company asks references; that depends upon the company and what type of position you are applying for. Generally, the questions will revolve around work ethic, attendance, reason for leaving, ability to be rehired, etc.

Do you know what your references will say about you? Although my current position does not include conducting reference checks, I have conducted plenty of reference checks in my past.  What always amazed me is those candidates who give me a list of references and one or two people on their list give them a
terrible reference.   Have a conversation with them before adding them to your reference list.  Ask them what they are going to say about you.  Don’t just assume that they are going to give you a glowing reference.  If you’re not sure what they’re going to say when called by a potential employer, don’t include them on your reference list.

Resume Survis Lady is written by Billye Survis. To have your resume or job search questions answered by Resume Survis Lady, send your questions to: resumesurvislady@gmail.com

Feel free to also connect with Resume Survis Lady:

Twitter:  resumesurvisldy

LinkedIn: Resume Survis Lady or www.linkedin.com/in/billye

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Resume-Survis-Lady/150368705033497

What Do Recruiters Look At When Looking At LinkedIn Profiles?

Dear RSL,

I hear you mention LinkedIn quite often, that you use it to recruit people.  What do recruiters look for when they are looking at people’s LinkedIn profiles?

You’re right; I do use LinkedIn very heavily!  What can I say; it’s been a great recruiting tool for me to find great candidates.  It’s also worked out very well for me as my profile on LinkedIn has led to 2 jobs finding me.

LinkedIn is a tool that should be used by all job seekers.  Think of the profile you create as a ‘casual’ resume.  What I mean by that is you will still want to have all of the relevant information contained in your resume as part of your LinkedIn profile including work experience, significant accomplishments and education but you also are able to be more casual with things like your summary.  For example, in my summary I state that in addition to being a recruiter/resume writer/blogger that I am also a superhero wife and mother 24/7.  Now that might make you laugh, but
quite often I will get comments on it and people remember who I am.  Just today I received an email to connect with the person requesting the connection saying they always wanted to know a superhero.

In addition to the typical “resume info” you will want to make sure that your LinkedIn profile is 100% completed to increase your visibility to those looking for people with your skill set.  This will include making sure you have a summary, list specialties, have contact information and references and belong to LinkedIn groups.  LinkedIn gives preference to those users who complete their profile by listing them higher in the rankings during searches and enable more people to find you.

As a recruiter I look at the groups that people belong to. I like to know that people I am recruiting are active networkers with others in their chosen profession.  It’s always good to show that you are keeping up on current industry standards and I think that belonging to and contributing to appropriate groups is extremely important for not only potential employers to see but to also network with others in your field.

Bottom line with LinkedIn: make sure you include all of your career history/education and include personal referrals.  If you don’t currently have any referrals, ask current and former colleagues/managers/clients if they will write a referral for you.  Make sure your profile is 100% completed.  If you’re interested in what a completed profile looks like, feel free to view mine:  www.linkedin.com/in/billye  Also make sure you have joined groups appropriate for your profession and are active in them.

Lastly, let me know if you have any questions and how it’s working for you.  Good luck!

Resume Survis Lady is written by Billye Survis. To have your resume or job search questions answered by Resume Survis Lady, send your
questions to: resumesurvislady@gmail.com Feel free to also connect with Resume Survis Lady through twitter:  resumesurvisldy her LinkedIn group: Resume Survis Lady and on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Resume-Survis-Lady/150368705033497

Is There Something Wrong With My Resume?

Dear Resume Survis Lady,

Is there something wrong with my resume?  I’ve applied to over 100 jobs over the past 6 months and have gotten only a handful of responses which haven’t led anywhere.  I understand that I don’t have a lot of “real world experience,” but I do have an MBA along with 5 internships.  I’m at my wit’s end; any help would be greatly appreciated!

It can be extremely frustrating when you’re putting a lot of time and effort into something, in this case your job search, and getting very little in return.  Let me start by asking a few questions.  What type of positions are you applying to?  Are you sending out a generic resume for each position you are applying to?  What type of networking and self marketing have you done?

Let’s start with the positions that you are applying to.  With 5 internships, you’ve probably accumulated about 1-2 years of “real world experience” so you will want to make sure to target your search for positions that require a degree and require minimal experience.  If you are interested in a position but it’s requiring 5 or more years of experience, I can pretty much guarantee you will not get a call for an interview.  Know your skills.  Make sure the positions that you are applying to are positions that you are qualified.  Often times I have clients wonder why they’re not getting calls on positions they’ve applied to only to find out after some probing that they are applying to positions that “sound like something I’d be good at” but in reality do not have any of the required experience.

Have you changed up your resume for the different types of positions you are applying to or are you sending out the same resume for each
position?  Are you including a cover letter?  In addition to writing a customized cover letter for each position, it’s also very important that you customize your resume for each position that you apply to.  When I say customize, I mean change your heading to the title of the position that you are applying to, change your summary/objective to match the position and make sure your bullet points are showcasing the things that you have done in past positions that make you a strong candidate for the one you are applying to.  You want your resume to be focused.   If you need help, you might want to talk to a professional resume writer for ideas or take a resume writing class that teaches you how to customize your resume for each position.

Have you started networking yet?  No one can market yourself with more passion than you.  Make sure you join professional networks like LinkedIn or professional organizations in your area.  I can’t tell you how often I hear from people who have found their job through networking; myself included.  The last two positions I’ve had were due to being on LinkedIn, the jobs found me.  Don’t be afraid to join groups on LinkedIn or other professional organizations and be active.  These are professionals all there to help each other.  Ask questions and learn from others.

Is there something wrong with your resume?

To have your resume or job search questions answered by Resume Survis Lady, send your questions to: resumesurvislady@gmail.com or on twitter: resumesurvisldy or connect with her directly on LinkedIn by sending her an invite to connect:  resumesurvislady@gmail.com

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