The dumbed down resume debate

The dumbed down resume is a massive waste of time

Dumbed down resume is a waste of time

Dumbed down resume is a waste of time

There is nothing more annoying for a recruiter or head hunter to find out that a resume has been dumbed down or adjusted to make a candidate seem less experienced and qualified than they really are. This is usually achieved by omitting academic qualifications, adjusting job titles, leaving out employment entries or playing down experience.

Companies have valid reasons for not wanting to recruit people with top-level qualifications for lower level jobs.

  • The employee is a risk as he/she will get bored and under perform on the job which is below their skill set.
  • They may resist management and be disruptive to the team
  • They are more likely to leave when they see an opportunity more in line with their qualifications, experience and salary expectations.

Inflating a CV with erroneous and misleading information is highly frowned upon. Whereas lying by omission on a dumbed down resume, seems to be a grey area that many people are, if not OK with, understanding.

Withholding information leads to a situation of mistrust. How do we know what else is not true?Tweet this

You have four solutions:

1. A work around

Simply not draw attention to those higher level skills and list those additional competencies at the end of your resume and hope the hiring manager doesn’t dwell on them. But if this happens – how good is the company anyway? They haven’t been very thorough.  If you have a long career you can also create a section with your early career experience grouped together.

If someone fails to put the date they graduated, any recruiter with half a brain will know they are over 50.

2. Make a pitch

In a recent post ” 7 ways to sell yourself as an over qualified candidate“a 3Plus colleague suggests that the best way around this problem if you are an overqualified candidate, is to try and persuade a hiring manager to give you a chance. This will work if you get as far as the interview. You can try in a cover letter, but often times cover letters are peeled away by Applicant Tracking Systems and never see the light of day.

3. Re-train

If you are returning from parenting leave and don’t feel competent working at the level you previously enjoyed, one option could be to retrain and refresh to get back up to speed. Presenting yourself as a junior candidate in a new field can be an option that works. This means that you wjll have to accept, at least in the short term, a lower salary.

4. Returnships

You can also volunteer for an internship to get a feel of what is going on in organisations since you left. Many organisations are offering “returnships” exactly for this purpose. Some companies are even willing to allow a candidate they feel has potential to shadow a department. This requires a pitch from an informational interview stand point, where there will be no obligation to hire – but will be up to you to make a good impressions.

If you need career advice or you are interested in a coaching and mentoring program for women please get in touch with the 3Plus Team 


There are exceptions to this general rule, but these tend to be rare.

Laurence quit her job with a termination package and wanted to retrain as a coach. With a double Masters in Industrial Engineering and Project Management she needed a job and I quote “that left her the headspace” to study in the evenings and grow her coaching business. She got a job as a receptionist in a construction firm providing maternity leave cover.  She stayed there for  1 year before she worked full-time as an entrepreneur.

Although it can be difficult because bills have to be paid, it’s best to stick it out for something in line with your skills, experience and qualifications. What we are seeing anyway is a trend for companies to try and recruit highly qualified people for low-level jobs, as a way of creating a strong talent pool without increasing the salary bill.

So in some ways the situation is getting easier. I can’t bring myself to tell you to undo all the good work you might have done. Self belief, that you can achieve your goals is critical. The other factor is that continuous rejection may not be about over-qualification, but something else all together. If this is the case seek professional support.

As with everything, honesty and transparency is the best policy. The most important thing for any candidate for career success for skills and job demands to be aligned.



3Plus, Career
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Dorothy Dalton is CEO of 3Plus International. A specialist in diversity and bias conscious executive search, she joins the dots between organisations, individuals, opportunity and success.

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