'J.T. & Dale Talk Jobs' is the largest nationally syndicated career advice column in the US and can be found at JTandDale.com.Dear J.T. & Dale: What are your thoughts on "dumbing down" a resume to get a job? I've read that it's the only way to get called for jobs that I'm overqualified for. I worked hard for my advanced degrees and senior positions, but I'm seeing evidence that it is placing me out of the market. — Russell J.T.: It's funny that on the day we got your question, Russell, a fellow columnist, Jon Jacobs, sent me the article he wrote on the same subject. You describe yourself as "overqualified," and Jon concludes that if you give even the slightest hint that youthinking that way, managers will not hire you for fear that you'll come to the job "with an attitude" and set yourself apart from the team. Dale: We all can agree on that. But the issue here is with the resume. And I've seen managers react in two ways to getting applicants with unexpectedly high qualifications: There are those who consider such applicants overqualified and assume they'll be know-it-alls and/or leave the moment the economy perks up. Then, there are those managers who are delighted by the possibility of picking up a "bargain" employee. The former tend to be managers who are insecure and thus threatened by star employees; the latter tend to be those confident, broad-minded leaders who are always looking for a chance to upgrade their teams. When you dumb down your resume, you're sending a mating call of mediocrity, appealing to managers who'll turn on you once you start, creating a "set-up-to-fail syndrome." J.T.: Yes, instead of talking down your qualifications, amp up your networking. Make it so the resume is the second or third thing a hiring manager sees about you, after he or she has heard from a colleague about what a great addition you'll be, or maybe after your first phone conversation or visit to the company. By the time they see your resume, they'll already have concluded that you're a good fit, and those qualifications will seem like what they are — an added bonus that makes you a more appealing candidate. Jeanine "J.T." Tanner O'Donnell is a professional development specialist and founder of CAREEREALISM.com. Dale Dauten's latest book is "(Great) Employees Only: How Gifted Bosses Hire and De-Hire Their Way to Success" (John Wiley & Sons). Please visit them at jtanddale.com, where you can send questions via e-mail, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019. © 2009 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.
You’ve made it through the rigorous interview process successfully and the organization has extended you an offer for employment. Congratulations! Now, it’s time to take a better look at what the offer includes.
Here are some tips for understanding the job offer letter:
In most cases, the offer letter should include information about how you will be paid. This may state the frequency of paychecks, whether you will be paid hourly or on a salary basis, and if you will be eligible for commission or bonus payments. In most cases, your compensation will be stated before taxes, so your take-home pay may be very different than what is stated in the offer. If you need help in determining how much you will actually be bringing home in each paycheck, you may want to consult an accountant or ask your HR representative to help you with the calculations.
For commission-based positions, it’s wise to ask about draws and how often commission checks are issued. Some companies only pay commissions one time per month, so it’s important to know this information up front for budgeting purposes.
Details About The Job
A job is much more than just a title, so many companies include information about the daily responsibilities or some type of job description. You should understand the schedule for the job and what will be expected of you. If this information isn’t included, ask the hiring manager for a copy of the job description. This doesn’t mean that it’s written in stone and you will only be required to do those things listed in the description, but it is a good starting point to learn about what you will be doing when you start the position.
If your position is full-time, it’s likely that you will be offered some type of benefits package by the employer. You should pay careful attention to what is offered because these benefits can actually add significant value to the overall compensation package.
Look for information on insurance plans, 401(k) or other retirement savings plans, and other benefits offerings that may be available to you. Employer-based benefits plans can actually add significant value to a position. Some companies offer matching for their retirement savings plans, contributions towards insurance, and tuition reimbursement. If you take advantage of any or all of these options, you may end up with a much more lucrative position than was initially indicated in just the compensation portion of the offer.
Some employers include information about the next steps in their offer letters. For example, if you must undergo a background check or drug test, that information may be included in the offer letter. The letter may also indicate when you can start or how to determine your start date. Now is the time to ask questions if something is unclear or if you need additional information.
Don’t accept the offer if you’re unsure of what the position entails. The recruiter or hiring manager should be able to answer these questions before you start. Good luck finding your next job, and make sure you fully understand the job offer before you accept it!
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June 29, 2022
Even when you have the education and professional background to qualify for the job, don't count on it as a sure win that you will be asked to come in for an interview. In fact, your qualifications may hinder your chances.
It's very common in today's market for employers to dismiss a job applicant's resume because they are “overqualified."
Sometimes there's an abundant supply of highly qualified candidates but not enough jobs to go around for everyone. In those cases, job seekers may resort to applying for positions where the level of expertise required on the job is below their previous position's requirements. In addition, those making a career change often need to seek out entry-level positions, where there may be more job opportunities.
The challenge for job seekers is not simply competing with so many other applicants but finding a fine balance of information to place on their resume without coming off as overqualified. Employers are mostly concerned that, if you take a lesser position, you will leave once you find a position that is more commensurate with your skills.
Here are a few tips to help guide you in preparing your resume for the next job opportunity and avoid coming off as overqualified and ruining your chances of landing the job offer:
1. Only Include Relevant Work Experience
Focus on what the employer is looking for and show them you can do it. If some of your management experience is not a part of their job description, then don't mention it. This tip is especially critical for applicants moving from one career to another.
For instance, if you had your own mortgage or construction firm and are now just looking for a sales job, just speak to your experience driving sales. You can also change your title from "Owner" to "Sales Manager." As you list your professional experience, be sure to quantify your sales results.
2. Only Highlight Necessary Degrees
Many of today's positions require candidates to have a bachelor's or master's degree. If you continued to pursue education to obtain other degrees, earning you the title of Ph.D., M.D., or others, don't be so quick to include that information on your resume.
You have to ask if it is at all relevant to the job you are applying for. It's great if you moved on to obtain your Ph.D. in neuroscience, but if the employer's business and the job is focused on finance and accounting for toy manufacturing/distribution, your additional education will be of little relevance and may sway an employer to reconsider whether you are right for the position.
3. Explain Why You're The Right Candidate
Write a disruptive cover letter that tells a story about why you're passionate about the position, how you feel a connection to the company, and how your experience, skills, and talent make you the right fit. If there's a chance your resume comes off as overqualified, even after following the tips above, make sure to provide sufficient explanation in your cover letter.
Give the employer confidence that you are challenged by the opportunity and will be there a year from now. The employer needs to know that you are not simply taking the job because you can't find anything better. They also need to be assured you aren't going to be quick to run off to another job as soon as the market improves or another opportunity opens up that is more in line with your level of experience from your previous positions.
Your resume is a marketing tool to help get your foot in the door for an interview. Placing too much information or irrelevant information will only give the employer more reason to dismiss you. Carefully review the job posting and do your research to really understand what skills and experience are desired for the position so that you present your resume and qualifications in the best light. Not everything you've accomplished, regardless of how significant it is, is appropriate to include on your resume.
Need more help optimizing your resume? We're here for you!
We'd love it if you joined our FREE community. It’s a private, online platform where workers, just like you, are coming together to learn and grow into powerful Workplace Renegades. More importantly, we have tons of resources inside our community that can help you write your resume—the right way.
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