Resume Tips for Overqualified Candidates

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When applying for jobs, most candidates try to lift their skills, experience and education to convey to a potential employer that they are qualified for the position. But some candidates are in the opposite position, where they have a work history and or education that goes well beyond what a job description calls for. It may seem counter-intuitive that having too much experience would be prohibitive when applying for a job, but there are a few different reasons why a hiring manager may be reluctant to consider to be an overqualified candidate:

  • Not planning to stay: They’re concerned that you’re just looking at the position as a temporary stepping stone to a different job that you’re better suited for, and that you’ll leave as soon as a better opportunity comes along. Especially if you have been unemployed for a while.
  • Salary: Before starting a recruitment process, employers usually have an idea of how much they can afford to pay a new hire. If you’re coming off of higher paying jobs they may worry that you’ll want a salary that matches your experience level, and is out of their range.
  • Get bored quickly: Even if you’re willing to perform all the job tasks, employers will be concerned that you’ll quickly get bored with your job duties, or find them too easy, and start looking for a more challenging job.


Understanding a few of the concerns that employers might have when they see a resume they consider too over qualified for the position, here are a few ways to you can tailor your resume to not scare potential employers away.

  • Education: Many positions require a candidate to have a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Does your education go beyond what the employer is asking for? If so, consider not including any of your degrees or certifications that are not relevant to the position you’re applying for.
  • Work experience: Read the job description carefully and do research on the company to understand what the employer is really looking for. Show the part of your experience that relates to the position you’re applying for and remove anything that’s irrelevant. If you have management experience, but it is not part of the job description, then don’t mention it. Keep it sparse without misrepresenting yourself.
  • Language: Normally on a resume, you want to use powerful words to convey your experience and skills. But in this situation, you may want to tone down your language a little bit. Instead of saying “Headed up…” you could say “Helped with…”.
  • Cover letter: Your resume isn’t the only part of your job application. Write a tailored cover letter to let the employer know why you’re the best fit for the position, even if you could be doing something more high level. Maybe you’re really passionate about the company or product. Or maybe you’re looking to get out of management and do something more hands-on. Tell your story and what motivates you. If you’re looking to change careers, explain that too.

Your resume is a marketing document to help you get an interview. Keep it tight, relevant and clear. Keep irrelevant information off that will give the employer more reason to immediately put it in the ‘no’ pile. Submit your resume today and one of our recruiters will review it and contact you if we have any matching opportunities.



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