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Which skills to leave on

Obviously you want to make it clear that you are qualified, but when your experience might make you seem overqualified, you need to strike a balance. Coming off too strong might put you at risk of losing the opportunity.

If you already have a vibrant career, you know which skills recruiters are looking for. Think about those skills and how you can showcase them on your resume. Here are a few to include.

Communication skills

Communication skills, both verbal and written, are invaluable in any job, regardless of industry.

Working for as long as you have, you’ve probably become a great communicator — whether you realize it or not.

Because it’s a soft skill, it helps to give specific examples of how you’ve communicated within your work experience.

Problem-solving skills

Problem-solving is something working professionals have to do all the time. With all your experience, you’ve definitely mastered this by now.

Again, it’s a soft skill, so you can’t just list it in your skills section. Citing specific examples and adding them under work experience will help you frame your problem-solving skills in a way recruiters will understand.

Interpersonal skills

Otherwise known as “people skills” and often confused with problem-solving skills, interpersonal skills are valued by most recruiters.

You’ve likely dealt with your fair share of people, be it co-workers or clients. Interpersonal skills like working in a team environment, clear communication and the ability to adapt in a fast-paced environment are something you highlight on your resume.

Hard skill/technical skills

Technical skills with computers or other industry-specific tools will only help you secure a job.

Learning a hard skill is one thing, but real life experience using it gives you insight you can’t get otherwise. This practical knowledge will set you apart from other applicants.

Specific metrics

Recruiters want to see not only your skills but the impact they’ve had on your career. It might feel like bragging, but you still want to stand out against other applicants.

Use numbers or other quantifiable measurements to show how your work benefited your past employers. This will demonstrate how valuable you are.

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Which skills to take off

When you have so much experience working for you, it can be hard to determine what might actually be working against you. Again, applying for a job when you feel overqualified means striking a balance.

Whether you’re scaling down in your career or changing industries, here are some skills you should consider not putting on your resume.

Irrelevant work experience

It’s a given; listing irrelevant work experience just takes up space on your resume. It’s one way to bore a recruiter and invite them to pass on you as a candidate.

One way to avoid this is to list only transferable skills that are needed with the job you’re applying for. If you don’t see it listed in the job description, or you don’t think it adds anything to how you’d be best for the role, cut it.

Outdated technical skills

If you’ve been working long enough, you’ve likely had to learn many kinds of software to do your job.

Unless it’s the industry standard, no one needs to know you’re proficient in an outdated technology. Hopefully, that knowledge will be transferable to any modern software or tech that is more relevant to the job you’re applying for.

Double check what you’ve listed in your skills section. If any are years out of date, remove them.

Anything unapproachable

Approachability is paramount when you think you might have too much experience for a position.

Hiring managers might be scared off or feel threatened by the amount of experience you have. Some might be too insecure to hire someone who knows more than they do.

It has nothing to do with you, but it might be best to downplay it if you have the opportunity.

Trust your instincts

You’ve most likely encountered human resources professionals and hiring managers throughout your career. You might also have been consulted on hiring decisions in previous positions.

So you might have a good sense of what to include or exclude from your resume so you come off the best. Your instincts and knowledge could be helpful.

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Tips for applying for jobs when you're overqualified

While tweaking your resume is a great place to start, consider other factors as well when applying for a job that you feel overqualified for.

What you do after you send your resume could be just as important as the resume itself.

Humble yourself

Having some confidence while applying for jobs will help, but nothing will ruin your candidacy faster than being too cocky.

Yes, you might have years of experience compared to other applicants, but you’re applying for the same opportunity they are, and they’re coming in without an attitude.

Don’t let your ego or pride get in the way of you securing a job you’re passionate about.

Be transparent

You have your reasons for applying for a job that doesn’t match your experience. Sometimes, the best way to get out ahead of a question is to address it before they have the chance to ask it.

Obviously, be transparent at your own discretion. Don’t come off too needy or too egotistical.

But if you can find a professional, approachable way to frame your reasoning, then it could help your chances of securing that job.

Strategically frame yourself

Again, coming into a job application with guns blazing won’t do you any favors.

Remember, you have to connect the dots between you and the role to show the hiring manager you’re the only option.

Use your experience to position yourself in the eyes of the recruiter and use specific examples to show how your skill-set makes you the most qualified candidate.

Show enthusiasm

To counteract any suspicion that you might use this job as a layover while you look for a higher-paying role, communicate your enthusiasm for the position.

Make it known that you want to work for the company in this position and lay out where you see yourself going with the role. If you can show you have plans to stay, they’ll be less likely to think you’re treating this as temporary.

Set your expectations

Ultimately, while you might be overqualified for the job, the decision on whether you are hired is not yours to make.

It can be frustrating to be rejected for a position you felt overqualified for, but there are so many factors that go into that decision, most of which are out of your control.

So take a deep breath and, again, remain humble.


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Chris Middleton Freelance Writer

Chris Middleton is a freelance writer at Moneywise. He’s written for CBC News, blogTO, Parton and Pearl and a number of other places. He has a Master’s in Creative and Critical Writing from the University of Gloucestershire.


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