Should you “dumb down” your CV?
A loyal reader asks: “I’m looking for part-time opportunities and I’m facing the dilemma of dumbing down my resume to not appear over qualified yet at the same time I would like to show any potential employer that I have what it takes to fulfill that position and maybe even more. What do you think?”
Great question and one we come across often!
In my opinion, it is not a question of ‘dumbing down’ one’s resume, but rather customizing it to be pertinent to the position you are pursuing. If you are applying for a clerical role, it is probably irrelevant to highlight your managerial experience. You always want to look at the job requirements and focus on those in your CV.
Candidates often look at entry-level or low-paying positions and automatically assume they should be interviewed and hired right away since those are jobs ‘they could do’. A hiring manager, however, would much rather consider a candidate who has actually done the job or a candidate who is likely to make a career out of it. Even though you might only need basic training to master the skills necessary for a data entry job, for example, an experienced data entry clerk needs none. She could also potentially offer ways of optimizing the process at her new company, based on the experience she had in the same role in her past employment. Additionally, a candidate who does not view the position he is targeting as a step down is more likely to be motivated in it and plan to stay in the role longer.
So, what do you do if you are looking for a clerical part-time position after years of being a marketing specialist, for example? Here are some practical tips:
1. Put an objective at the top of your resume, right below your name and contact information, clearly stating that you are looking for a part-time position in administrative support. This will help show that you are applying for the position because you are interested in it and not randomly sending out your CV in hopes something else might come out of it.
2. If you had a similar position (as the one you are now targeting) in the past, start your resume with it even if it was years ago. You can name the resume section “Relevant Professional Experience” and put the rest of your work experience in a section titled “Other Professional Experience”.
3. Include a “Summary of Qualifications, pertinent to the position of /include the title of the position you are targeting/” and align those with the list of qualifications set forward in the ad.
4. Network, network, network. When you submit a `cold` application and are clearly overqualified for the position regardless of how much you have customized your CV, your chances of getting a call for an interview are slim. You are better off informing your network of your search and trying to land an interview through a recommendation.
And… be humble! Do not automatically assume that if a position pays less than what you are used to making, it is an easy job and one you could do with your eyes closed. Every job is unique and demands its own skill set. Be ready to learn and show that you are eager to take on what is required.