Looking for a job isn’t easy, but putting together a well-written, eye-catching resume is a great way to start. While some people struggle with what to put on their resume since they may lack experience or education, others have the exact opposite problem–they may have too much experience or education for the job they’re applying for, giving the impression that they’re overqualified. But don’t give up hope; your resume can still make it to the top of the pile.

Here are five resume tips for overqualified candidates that can help them land an interview where they can sell their skills in person.

Simplify

Let’s say you have 20 years of total work experience, but only five of those years relate to the job you’re applying for. Or maybe you have a master’s degree, but the job only requires a bachelor’s or associate’s degree. Keep your resume simple and leave off unrelated experience and education, focusing only on what jobs and degrees relate to the one you’re applying for. If you decide to include it to avoid questions about an employment gap, keep the explanation very short–perhaps just the job title and the dates you worked.

Choose words carefully

If applying for a non-managerial job, shy away from using terms such as supervision, overseeing, and other words that give off a managerial vibe and may lead recruiters to put your resume in the “overqualified” pile. Instead, focus more on work-specific skills that the job you’re applying for requires. For example if applying for a job in accounting, mention your strengths in bookkeeping, payroll, spreadsheets, and databases. Discuss your skills in concrete ways and explain how they relate to the job you’re looking to fill.

Customize

You’ve heard you should customize cover letters for each job, and the same is true for resumes, especially when you have more experience than required. If you have a lot of experience, focus on what skills relate directly to the job you’re applying for. Leave off that extra information and focus on the skills, education, and experience you have that are a match for each specific job.

Play down titles

If you were a manager at a previous job and are now looking for something without a title, seriously consider leaving past titles off your resume. Instead, list the company’s name, how long you were there, and key job duties (although you may want to limit the words “supervise” or “manage” as discussed in tip #2). By focusing more on what you did, rather than the job title, you’re less likely to get that “overqualified” label.

Pair it with a great cover letter

A resume is only part of the job hunting equation. You also need a compelling cover letter selling you as the ideal candidate. This is the obvious place to say you’re excited about the job opening and committed long-term to it. Sometimes, hiring managers shy away from candidates who appear overqualified since they may erroneously think they are only going to take the job until a better one comes along. Come out and state why you’re interested in the job and how you see it fitting with your long-term goals.

In today’s tough employment market, job seekers need to work harder than ever before to match their skills, experience, and education with what a specific business is looking for. Take a serious look at your qualifications and the job description and see how well you can match words and phrasing to make yourself to appear to be the ideal job candidate and get you an interview where you can sell your skills in person.

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Featured photo credit: Candid image of young businessman sits using Tablet Computer near the rivervia Shutterstock

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