Overqualified and expecting a call? Think again.

BY SAMANTHA NOLAN Published: March 2, 2012
Dear Sam: I have read your column since I first began attending college. Finally, after six years, I have completed my degree in organizational communication.

I have worked since I was 15 years old and my past two positions have prepared me for an office role that would not require an "entry level" status. However, I have applied for positions for more than five months and have received only one response from a potential employer.

I have attached my résumé hoping you could give me some pointers on what I may be doing wrong and how to get those who are reviewing my résumé to call me versus another candidate.

The problem I feel I am running into is that I am not inexperienced but also do not have five years of experience either.

I did not expect that finding a professional job with a decent salary would be easy, but I certainly did not expect for it to be this difficult. With my student loans becoming due in less than six months, the pressure is on to find a higher paying and upwardly mobile position where my strengths can be utilized. – Jessica

Dear Jessica: The main problem with your résumé is that you appear overqualified for any entry-level job you may apply for solely based on your content and formatting choices.

Your résumé is very cluttered and difficult to read, in fact when I first opened it — and I imagine this is the reaction many others would also have — I backed away from it not knowing what to read first in the barrage of text, columns, bolding, underlining, and the overly “strong” font treatment.

One would never assume you only had a few years of experience from looking at your two-page résumé so there is an immediate disconnect presented when reviewing your candidacy.

The key to résumé and job search success is to present the “right” qualifications to your target audience — all bundled in a well-written and nicely formatted package — meaning you need to communicate the type and amount of experience being sought by your target audience.

As your résumé sits today you are presenting an overqualified image to potential hiring managers who are seeking someone with just a few years of professional experience.

Opening your résumé with the statement that you have seven-plus years of experience — while true if you are adding your time working as a manager of a pizza shop — immediately overqualifies you for your target positions.

You really have three years of corporate experience so I would promote that while allowing your foundational experience in the customer service arena to augment your qualifications and serve as value-added at the end of your résumé and in the interview.

Next, differentiate responsibilities from accomplishments. Currently your résumé is a sea of bullet points without any indication of which are most impressive and convey the value you added to each position.

While you have pulled out an accomplishment in the left column on page one, this isn’t sufficient to communicate that you were a top-performer in each of your engagements.