Overqualified? 3 Tips to Downplay it on Your Resume

By: Kat Krull

In a tough job market, it’s not just those with the minimum education that struggle to find a new job. Many employers are wary of hiring “overqualified” candidates, too — those with more education or experience than the job description calls for — for fear that they may leave for a more desirable job in the near future or continue looking for their ideal job after getting hired.

As someone with too much education, experience, or skill, how can you optimize your resume to downplay your qualifications? Moreover, how you you ensure that your application makes the employer bring you in for an interview? Here are three tips to help you from appearing overqualified:

1. Don’t include all of your work experience

Simply include relevant experience. Show the employer what they’re looking for. This is especially important if you’re changing careers — it doesn’t necessarily matter to the employer that you climbed the ladder in sales if you’re now hoping to work in IT.

2. Leave off any degrees that don’t apply to the job

Sure, you might have a master’s degree in psychology, but if it doesn’t apply to the position you’re applying for — or the employer only requires an associate’s or bachelor’s degree — it might help you by not including it on your resume.

3. Explain why you want the job in your cover letter

Show the employer how your experience, education, and skills make you a good fit for the opening. Your cover letter is a great place to banish any lingering doubts the employer might have after looking at your resume. If you’re changing career fields, this is the place to explain that so you don’t appear as if you’ve applied for a job in which you’re a wrong fit. Maybe the stress of your former management position took its toll on you, and you’re looking for something with a better work-life balance. Make your case here to encourage the hiring manager to take a chance on you.

Don’t hurt your chances at landing an interview by providing too much information on your resume. Make sure you compare your resume to the job description, tailor it to the position, and provide the employer with the information they’ve requested, but beyond that, your additional experience or education may be irrelevant in their eyes.


What do you think? Have you struggled with being “overqualified” for open jobs? How did you overcome this hurdle in your job search?

Kat Krull is the Marketing Manager of Resunate, a job application tool that tailors and optimizes your resume for a specific job. You can find Kat and Resunate on FacebookTwitter, and Google+.

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