Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Writing Resumes for Positions You're Over-qualified For

First, I don't actually like the term "over-qualified," but I used it in the title for simplicity's sake. Even if you have a higher level of education, an abundance of training, or many additional skills, that doesn't totally mean you're over-qualified - maybe technically, but if that's the case, please practice a bit of humility and realize that doesn't make you above that job. Ok, side rant done, now to the original point of this post.

There could be a wide range of reasons why you would be applying for a job that you are over-qualified for: you're making an industry change, you need a change in schedule, you want less responsibility, you relocated, or you're looking for any job, just to name a few. For me, I was interested in finding a part-time job to fill some of my time in the evenings and weekends outside of my M-F day job. I didn't want a job that would be completely draining, rather something that would allow me to be productive with my time and something that I could contribute to without any of the additional commitment that lots of side hustles tend to carry. (If it was purely financially motivated, I would definitely have gone the route of turning one of my passions into a side hustle, but that's not for me at this time).

When I sat down to prepare my resume to apply for a part-time job, I realized it was going to take a lot more tailoring than simply updating the dates and adding in my newest position. I'm pretty confident in my resume and have a system down for applying on jobs in my industry - I have a format that is great and I provide the information that works, but for the first time since my second year of university, I was going to have to change my format as well as include old experience if I wanted any chance of being considered for these positions.

All of my experience since my second year of university has been office administrative-type positions, and that's not what I was going for this time around. I wasn't particularly picky about where my new part-time job would be, but more picky about the atmosphere and proximity to my home and day job, so I applied at coffee shops, movie theaters, restaurants, and retail stores that I thought would be a good fit in my selected area. While a good portion of these places were the kind that hire high school students with no experience, I knew that if I only included my office experience because it was the most recent, some would look at it and not give me a second thought.

On my resume I typically include my contact info at the top, next I list skills that are relevant to the type of position that I am applying for, then I list my experience in ascending order (dates included) before listing my education and community involvement. I keep this all in less than one sheet of paper, front and back (so, two pages), so that means not all of my experience is included - just what's recent and relevant.

This time around, however, I decided to split up my experience into two sections: Related Employment History and Other Employment History. I kept the first section's title simple, but you can totally tailor the title to fit even better, e.g., "Sales Employment History," or "Service Industry Experience." I also decided to leave dates out, other than stating which was my current position, because I wasn't listing them in ascending chronological order and also because I didn't want any potential employer to get caught up on the not-so-recent dates that I gained the experience.

The biggest, most important thing in all of this that I want you to take away and that caused me to write this post is this: capitalize on your transferrable skills. Really take the time to figure out what skills you gained in your past experiences - not just work experience, but education and volunteering too! Maybe you've never worked in a clothing store before, but you have an eye for fashion, you helped out with costumes in your school's yearly drama production, you are extremely organized, you managed the ordering and receiving of shipments in a different industry, and you handled the cash register in yet another industry - sounds like you're qualified then! In my case, I had a bit of experience in a coffee shop for a few months in my first year of university, I worked in an athletic retail store the last two years of high school, and I served in the dining room of an upscale retirement home when I was 16. None of this experience is recent, but it's relevant experience. Still, that alone might not be enough for a potential employer to decide to hire me. In comes my transferrable skills. Things like managing stock in my last position could transfer to every single position I applied for, or handling petty cash and cash registers. I've also gained experience communicating with partners and clients on the phone, over email, and in person; that's absolutely transferrable to any position that involves interacting with customers (which every single position that I applied for does). Other examples of transferrable skills? Sports involvement = team work, working while going to university = time management & prioritization, school's audio-visual team = technology and computer skills. Some of the most important skills are gained over many different life experiences, such as communication, problem-solving, learning, listening, creativity, and leadership. Focus on these skills to make your potential employers see the gem of an employee you can be, and they'll be happy to train you for the position. No one shows up to a job not needing to be trained in at least some way anyway.

What are some more resume tips you can share? Have you recently had to re-vamp your resume to fit positions you were applying for? What are more examples of transferrable skills?  Want to hear more about resumes and job hunting? Let me know!


  1. I like your tip of splitting it up into related experience & then non-related. That way they can see how you fit in & what you can bring to the table. Great tips.
    :] // ▲ itsCarmen.com ▲

  2. I nominated you for the Liebster Award! To accept your award, go to http://clairwithcharm.blogspot.com/ and follow the instructions!
    -Marissa Clair♡

    1. Thanks Marissa! I'll check it out soon! :)

      In the meantime, feel free to check out my post from the first time I was nominated!

  3. I really appreciate this post. I can write about anything, but when it comes to a resume...my mind goes BLANK! This post is very helpful, thank you!

    x Mel

  4. Wow. I'm really impressed by this, and as someone who likes to have a side job I think it's great advice -Hanna Lei


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