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

Incomplete degree….list it???

Dear Resume Survis Lady,

I’m working on updating my resume since I went back to school and will be completing my Master’s degree within a few months.  My current job was fine while I was going to school, but now I want to find a position more suitable to what I’m going to school for.  How can I add my new education to my degree without “lying” and saying I have a Masters”? 

You definitely want to “get what you paid for” so to speak and let potential employers know about your intentions to graduate shortly with your Master’s degree.  It’s no easy feat to go back to school at any age, especially if you’re working at the same time.

More times than I can count I have come across resumes that state:  “Bachelor degree candidate” leading me to believe the candidate is a few credits short of a degree.  Most times I am disappointed (although I really should no longer be surprised when it happens) to find out the candidate is far from completing their degree with no intention to complete their degree.  I have always felt it best to be completely honest on your resume.  I don’t believe in “smoke and mirrors” as the truth eventually will come out anyways.  You’re looking to build relationships with potential employers and you do not want to give them any reason to not trust you, so be honest.  How you will want to address your soon-to-be Masters degree is as follows:  MBA (anticipated graduation May 2011).  By listing your education in this fashion you are letting your employer know two things.  The first is that you do not yet have your Masters degree, the second is that you are currently pursuing it and plan to graduate shortly.

I cannot stress enough the importance of open and honest communication with any potential employer.  Anything on your resume, in this case the example of how to list education, that could be seen by a potential employer as trying to hide something or as something that might not be entirely truthful will only hurt you in the end.

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

Do I need an Executive Summary?

Dear Resume Survis Lady,

I have been requested by a recruiter to provide an Executive Summary along with my resume for a position that I’m interested in.  What is an executive summary and do I need to provide one for every position that I’m interested in?

An Executive Summary that accompanies a resume is a synopsis of the information listed on your resume.   It typically will list major accomplishments and results that you have achieved and where you would like to go; your potential.   Think of it like a detailed, long winded introduction to your resume.  Many people choose to put an objective at the top of their resume which is like a very short executive summary;  highlighting a few key attributes/skills that they have along with what they are looking for in a position/company.  Now, I’ve done the research on executive summaries, I understand their purpose, and as a resume writer I’ll write one for you if you request it.  As a recruiter, I think a cover letter is much more effective, customized to each individual position that you apply to outlining specifically what you will bring to the job you are applying to.  The key take away being to make sure you customize for each position you are applying for.  I see multiple resumes a day where the objective or cover letter very obviously has not been updated for the position the candidate is applying to.  Often times I will get cover letters referencing the wrong position title and even the wrong company.   As a recruiter or a hiring manager looking at the submission, I have to wonder how serious the candidate is about the position if they did not take the time to proof read their submission. 

As a job seeker; make sure you are aware of the position you applying for, the qualifications that are being requested from the job description and customize as applicable.  Make sure your resume reflects what it is the job description is asking for and if you do decide to submit a “generic” resume, make sure that you take out anything that was specific to a previous position applied to.