Resume Tips: How to Avoid the "Overqualified" Label

Resume Builder Overqualified

A study by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity finds that nearly 1 out of 2 Americans with college degrees are working at jobs for which they’re overqualified. The reason is simply a matter of supply and demand: The number of job seekers with college degrees is growing faster than the number of positions requiring these degrees. The same dynamic holds true for individuals with high-level job experience. Many are being turned away for being overqualified. 

Employers shun overqualified candidates for a variety of reasons. They may mistakenly assume they will be unable to meet the candidate’s salary demands, or that the candidate will move on at the first sign of a better opportunity. Also common are concerns that the overqualified candidate will lack the job satisfaction that propels productivity. Fortunately, job seekers can proactively address these concerns on their resumes and increase their chances of securing a position. 

Go With the Functional Resume 

The functional resume format allows you to strategically emphasize relevant skills toward the top of the resume and bury impressive titles and your chronological job history at the bottom. The key here is to focus on the specific qualities the employer is looking for and show you’re a good fit. If the job description doesn’t call for management experience, then don’t mention yours. Also, consider adding a career highlights section to your resume that focuses on specific achievements that relate to the position you’re seeking. 

Only Include Relevant Education 

If you hold high-level degrees that have earned you the title of M.D., Ph.D. or others, think twice before including this information on your resume. Honestly ask yourself if the title is truly relevant to the employer’s decision-making process. If you’re applying for a position in finance and mention your Ph.D. in biology, this presents a great opportunity for the employer to eliminate you and move right on to the next resume. 

Use Your Cover Letter Smartly

The best way to address any concerns that you might be overqualified is to make a compelling case for your employment before the employer even gets to your resume.  The cover letter is your prologue. Take advantage of this tool to set up your story. Explain why you want the job and how your experience, skills and talent make you the best candidate. Share your enthusiasm for the opportunity and confidently state that you are up to the challenge. 

Maybe there's a good reason you're applying for jobs similar to those you did earlier in your career. Many job seekers are focusing more on quality of life and willing to give up the long hours and stress of positions they are clearly qualified for, so don’t be afraid to communicate your priorities. Identify positives, such as work-life balance and the opportunity to work for an organization with a strong reputation. 

The Interview 

If you’ve advanced to the all-important interview stage, congratulations! Your cover letter and resume passed the test. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean the employer doesn’t have pressing concerns. Make it clear that you’re committed for the long term. The employer needs to know that you are not simply taking the job because you can’t find anything better. 

LiveCareer’s Resume Builder 

With our free online Resume Builder it’s easy to create multiple versions of your resume to share certain qualifications with one employer and not with others. Save them all and access them anytime.

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