Is It Smart to Dumb Down Your Resume?
Kim Isaacs | Monster Resume Expert
If you’re an experienced worker, you might be considering dumbing down your resume to land an interview for a position for which you might seem overqualified.
This strategy could include downplaying or omitting work experience, resume skills, degrees and other credentials.
But is reworking your resume in this manner a wise thing to do? Employment experts weigh in with their advice.
Special Circumstances Can Warrant It
Tracy Parish, a certified professional resume writer and president of resume-writing firm CareerPlan in Kewanee, Illinois, has encountered situations when dumbing down the resume can work. “Obviously, a person needs to keep bread on the table, so accepting a lower position is becoming more common and the resume needs to be appropriately tailored,” she says.
While you don’t have to include everything you’ve ever done on your resume, don’t cross the line into dishonesty. “Never lie,” Parish says. “It will come back to haunt you.” If you decide to omit some of your credentials on your resume, you still must provide a thorough account on a job application. A resume is a strategic marketing piece, whereas a job application is a signed, legal document that requires full disclosure.
What Are the Risks?
“Job seekers should think carefully before dumbing down their resumes,” says Robert Hosking, executive director of OfficeTeam, a staffing agency based in Menlo Park, California. “Employers can easily learn about job seekers’ work histories, education and credentials online or through references, so they should be truthful.”
“We do not recommend that job seekers hide relevant information,” says Carrie Stone, a former Disney executive and current president of cStone & Associates, an executive search and leadership consulting firm in San Diego. “If job seekers misrepresent credentials, they are seen as dishonest and employers will question their integrity.”
William Finlay, PhD, professor of sociology at the University of Georgia and coauthor of Headhunters: Matchmaking in the Labor Market, also agrees that job seekers shouldn’t dumb down their resumes. “Misrepresentation, if it is discovered, is a deal breaker because it calls the candidate’s honesty into question,” he says.