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

New College Graduate Does Not Equal No Experience

Dear RSL,

I just graduated college and I’m looking for my first “real” job.  My problem is I don’t have a lot of work
experience and I think I’m continuing to get passed over in favor of people with experience.  What can I do?

Congratulations on completing your degree!  I’m sure it hasn’t been an easy road but you’re done, completed and now it’s time to find your place in the world and start your career.  What type of positions have you applied to?  What type of internships and/or projects did you work on while completing your degree?

The first thing you need to do is focus on what type of position you are targeting.  I am going to assume that since you just graduated that you are targeting positions that are in your field of study.  What type of experience is being required in the positions that you are applying for?  Many new graduates have gone through internships and although they might not have been paid for this work, they can count that experience when calculating their overall years of experience.  The same can be said for projects that have been completed while in school, this experience can also be counted.

Between internships and classroom work/projects, most college graduates come away with 1-2 years of experience in their chosen field.  The types of positions that you are targeting will typically have an experience requirement of 0-2 years.  You’ll want to showcase this experience on your resume.  Make sure to include not only internships and class projects, but also any relevant groups/organizations or volunteer work that you’ve done that’s relevant to the position you are applying to.   Highlight your relevant experience to showcase the competencies that you’ve gained and how they relate to the position you are applying to.  And while you’re customizing your resume for each specific position, don’t forget to include a customized cover letter as well: http://resumesurvislady.com/2011/04/08/the-cover-letter-mystery/

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 connect with Resume Survis Lady:

Twitter:  resumesurvisldy

LinkedIn: Resume Survis Lady

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

 

Help!!! Who do I follow up with?

Dear Resume Survis Lady,

I’m totally confused at this point on how and who to follow-up with directly after filling out an application and submitting a resume online.   Aside from following-up with HR to be sure they have your information, what advice can you give on taking it a step further?

Finding out who the hiring manager is and following-up directly with that person seems to be logical, but isn’t always the best scenario. I’ve had some people react very badly (rude and abrupt reaction to a direct call) and that has kind of made me think twice about this approach.

This is a great question and one I get often.  I hear from many clients that they have been told to find out who the hiring manager or decision maker is regarding the position they have applied to and contact them directly.  From my experience working with hiring managers, this is only a good idea if you either know the hiring manager personally or if you have a direct connection to the hiring manager through a friend or acquaintance.  Typically, hiring managers are extremely busy and don’t like dealing with tasks that they consider to be “HR’s” responsibility and that includes communication with candidates and status updates. 

Candidates that have interviewed for a position are a different story.  If you’ve already had an interview with the hiring manager, it’s completely acceptable, in fact I encourage for you to follow up with the hiring manager by sending a Thank You note after your interview thanking them for their time and letting them know your interest level in the position.  Now days, in the age of technology, it’s completely acceptable to  send a Thank You note via email if you have their email address or via professional networking such as LinkedIn.  Once the Thank You note has been sent, your next follow up is with the recruiter or the person that made the initial contact with you for the position.

I got sidetracked, back to the original question of who to follow up with.  If you’ve submitted your resume/application and have not heard anything back after 1-2 weeks, it is acceptable to follow up with the HR department/recruiter to make sure that your application has been received and to ask where your resume is at in the process.  During this initial follow up, I would also ask the recruiter if for future communication they prefer to communicate via email or the phone.  A rule of thumb with this is that if the recruiter’s initial contact with you is via email, they probably prefer to communicate via email and if their initial contact is via phone, they probably prefer phone.  Moving forward, you’ll know which method of communication to use with them.

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

Addresses on resumes?

Dear Resume Survis Lady,

With everyone using the internet to submit their resume and email to communicate, is it necessary to put my full street address on my resume?

I have to say, this is a question I have never been asked before in my 10+ years of resume writing and recruiting.  I have always included full addresses on resumes that I have written, so I needed to do a bit of research before I felt I could answer this question.

I went through and read everything I could on the pros and cons of including the full address on a resume.  It really is a personal call as to if this information should be included or not.  After I finished reading up on the matter, I asked some hiring managers what their thoughts were regarding addresses on a resume, but more on hiring manager’s views in a moment.  First I will address the cons of including addresses on resumes.

The biggest negative I could find with including addresses is around privacy.  If the resume was to fall into the wrong hands, there’s the possibility that their privacy and/or security could be breached.  I have to admit, the only resumes I have ever seen without an address are those received from an agency recruiter who doesn’t want me to contact the candidate without their knowledge.  The second negative I found was that including the street address on a resume could be seen as being outdated, not technically up to date and instead just be sure to include cell phone, email and LinkedIn profile addresses.  The final con that I was able to find was for candidates that want to relocate to where the position is located and do not want to be removed from the applicant pool based on where they currently live.

By including an address on a resume, you are providing the recruiter and hiring manager a complete picture.  When there are pieces missing off of a resume that are usually there, I start to think that the candidate is trying to hide something and there resume gets extra scrutiny.   I also spoke with a few different hiring managers regarding their views of including or excluding addresses on a resume.  What the overwhelming consensus was is that they want to see the address on the resume.  Without that address, many hours could be spent on the candidate before realizing that relocation might be needed or that the candidate is interviewing with the hope that they will be able to work remote within a few months of starting.

I’m curious as to your thoughts.  Do you currently have your address included on your resume?  Until I have a compelling reason not to, I am going to continue including addresses on the resumes I write for my clients.

To have your resume or job search questions answered by Resume Survis Lady, send your questions to: resumesurvislady@gmail.com or on twitter: resumesurvisldy

The Cover Letter Mystery

Dear Resume Survis Lady,

What do I need to include in my cover letter or is it no longer necessary to have a cover letter?

While a cover letter is not required, it definitely is a nice thing to have.  Think of it like the bow on top of a present.  It’s not something that is required, but it brings everything together and makes it look good.  The same can be said for a cover letter, it pulls together your resume, the position you are applying for and why you are interested in the position.

Now that it’s decided a cover letter is a good idea, what all needs to be included?  First and foremost you are going to want to individualize each cover letter for each position that you apply for.  Remember a few posts back when I talked about key words in resumes?  Well, key words are also important in cover letters.  You will want to make sure that you read, read and re-read the job description of the position that you are applying for, highlighting the key skills that are listed.  Once you have the skills highlighted, you will want to incorporate them into your cover letter and how they match up with your experience. 

Another tip with cover letters is to use the same or similar verbiage in your cover letter that was used in the job description.  Often times when recruiters are searching their database of past applicants, they will use verbiage or phrases used in the job description in their search.  Using their verbiage will help to ensure that your resume comes up in their search.

In addition to skills and keywords taken from the job description, be sure to include why you feel you would be a good fit for the position. If the position would require relocation, state why you’re open to relocation.

Now that you know what needs to be included in your cover letter, time to get busy!

To have your resume or job search questions answered by Resume Survis Lady, send your questions to: resumesurvislady@gmail.com or on twitter: resumesurvisldy

Phone Interview Jitters

Dear Resume Survis Lady,

I FINALLY got a call from a company I have always wanted to work for.  I’m scheduled for a phone interview next week.  I’m really nervous and afraid I am going to mess up the interview.  How can I make sure that I am prepared for the interview? 

Congratulations on your interview!  Getting a call from a company you’ve submitted your resume to for a position that you’re excited about is a really big deal.  With the current state of the economy, there are a lot of applicants applying to positions and very few that are being hired (unless you’re in the engineering field.  If you’re wondering what field is a good field to get in to, ENGINEERING!!!).  I can understand why you’d be nervous, excited and a bit scare at the prospect of being able to show how your skills align with what the company is looking for, put your best foot forward and try to convince them why they need to bring you in for a face to face interview.  Sound daunting? 

 

Enough said about that, no need to make you any more scared.  What should you do to help you be prepared for the phone interview?  I like to think of interviews like tests.   Remember back in high school or college when you had a big test coming up so you would try to cram everything you could in to your brain to try to remember for the test?  Preparing for a college exam is a lot like preparing for an interview.  You’re trying to remember all the projects you’ve worked on, the technology you’ve been exposed to, the experience you’ve had.   Now the good news in all of this is that you’re first interview is a phone interview, kind of like an open book test.  The person who’s conducting the interview could care less if you have “cheat sheets” in front of you or not.  And cheat sheets are the way to go! 

 

So, it’s an open book test, you’re allowed to have cheat sheets, but what do you need on the cheat sheets?  There are a few different things that you’ll want to research and have available to you at your fingertips for your interview:

 

1.                               Make sure you’ve gone to the company’s website and poked around.  Know about the company’s history and why you would want to work for the company.  Chances are you will be asked a question something similar to “why do you want to work for xyz company?” or “what are you looking for in your next position?” Bingo…you’ll be able to talk about things within the company that align with your goals and it will show you took the time to do some research

2.                               Read through the job description and take notes.  If you’ve read my previous posts, you know how important keywords are.  You thought that was just for your resume!  Keywords come back for the interview as well.  Write down from the job description some of the key things they are looking for.  It could be someone with project management experience in excess of $xxx amount or whatever it is.  Right down what they’re looking for and also think about what you’ve done and have an example ready to talk about.  In the example above using the project management experience, you would want to talk about what the project was, the budget and what your individual role was within the project.

3.                               Have examples ready that go over things that you’ve done where you’ve encountered challenges and were able to overcome them, turn what could have been a negative into a positive. 

4.                               Relax

 

Most importantly, you are going to want to be yourself over the phone.  A lot of the time the initial phone interview you have will be with someone from HR (Human Resources) who may not be all that familiar with the position.  In that case, it will not be a real “position specific” interview as much as “how do you communicate over the phone” and “do you meet the minimum qualifications for the position.”

 

Good luck, let me know how it turns out!

 

Have a question for Resume Survis Lady?  Leave a comment or send her an email at: resumesurvislady@gmail.com

LinkedIn Recommendations On Resumes???

Dear RSL,

I use LinkedIn for my professional networking and have a number of colleagues both current and past that have written recommendations that are visible on my profile.  Now that I am out job searching I would like to share those recommendations with potential employers.  Is it okay to add my LinkedIn recommendations on my resume?

First of all, congratulations on the recommendations!  I know it can sometimes be difficult to get co-workers and managers to write recommendations so you must be doing such a great job that they want to shout it from the rooftops.  After all, I received 3 requests for recommendations in the last week.  Of course they were from people I didn’t know and I will never ever write a recommendation for someone I have never worked with and do not personally know.  But I digress.  You asked about including LinkedIn recommendations on your resume.  You can probably ascertain by my introduction that I do not recommend it.

While there might be some out there that do not agree with me and I’d like to hear your reasons if you do disagree; I don’t think that a resume is the place for these recommendations.  As I mentioned above, I have received requests for recommendations  from people who I have never met.  How many other people have received the same requests?  As a recruiter or hiring manager, while I might look at the recommendations, they would not sway me one way or the other as to if I was going to move forward with the candidate. I would still require a list of professional references that I could call and talk to regarding the candidate’s qualifications, previous work history, etc.  Perhaps I’m “old school” but I like to talk to the references and see what information I can pull out of them to make sure I am making the best hiring decision.

So, back to the LinkedIn recommendations and what should you do with them.  I have two recommendations for you.  The first recommendation would be to include your LinkedIn address on your resume.  This allows the potential employer to go to your profile and look at not only your recommendations that you have listed, but also see who you’ve recommended, what groups you belong to and compare the work history on your resume to what you have listed in your profile.   The second recommendation that I have is if you absolutely feel a need to share your recommendations with your potential employer, put them together in an attractive format separate from your resume and if the occasion arises during an on-site interview you can pull out the list and share some of the recommendations with your interviewer.

LinkedIn is a great networking tool that should provide a synopsis of your professional history.  Having recommendations on your LinkedIn profile can help to build credibility.  I utilize it extensively to network and recruit candidates.  But while I look at the recommendations occasionally, I always have in the back of my mind the emails from those requesting that I write a recommendation for them without ever having met them.  Bottom line; leave the recommendations on LinkedIn where they belong, leave the resume to showcase your talents and successes to land you an interview.

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