Monday, March 28, 2011

"Overqualified": Should you leave things off your résumé to avoid the label?

Beth Braccio Hering, Special to CareerBuilder

Doug Hadley of Mansfield, Texas, estimates that he has applied for more than 600 jobs -- with no positive results. "I have been told I am overqualified many, many times. The few times I have been granted interviews, I hear, 'We are afraid this position will not challenge you enough.'"

Moving in on two years of unemployment, Hadley is willing to try different tactics to see what might work. He has begun to leave off some of his education as well as the fact that he is a published author. "I don't want to have to omit such things, but I feel as though I don't even get considered if they are on my résumé," he laments.

While only time will tell if this strategy works for him, plenty of other job seekers deliberate the same issue. Here, a few perspectives on leaving info off a résumé.


Many experts will caution job seekers about even applying for positions for which they are overqualified because of decreased earning potential, boredom and a larger applicant pool (not to mention the bruised ego if one doesn't land that "crummy" job). For applicants who still decide to give it a shot, "crafting" is often the route of choice.

A good application for any position should be created to match the employer's needs as closely as possible. Thus, simple (yet truthful) changes can make you a better candidate.

Duncan Mathison, a career consultant and co-author of "Unlock the Hidden Job Market: 6 Steps to a Successful Job Search When Times are Tough," recalls a client who felt his master's degree in psychology might be hindering his chances for a business sales job. "We dropped the degree and replaced it with an 'Additional Professional Training' statement that said, 'More than 500 hours in professional training on topics such as buyer motivation, persuasion and organizational behavior.' This allowed him to position the value of his psychology training for a sales position without listing the degree. It was truthful, and it worked."

Similarly, terminology changes such as "manager" becoming "project team leader" may be a better match to a particular job ad. Some job seekers tone down executive-sounding titles, especially if inflated (such as opting for a managerial title rather than showcasing that you were vice president in a company with only five employees).

"I often tell my more experienced and older clients to omit their dates of graduation (if they graduated on schedule rather than mid-career)," says Roy Cohen, a career coach and author of "The Wall Street Professional's Survival Guide." "This frees them up to leave off as many years of experience as necessary, so the application doesn't feel burdened by the weight of their careers."

Another option is creating a functional résumé instead of a chronological one. By sorting experiences into skill clusters, there becomes less of an emphasis on the length or extensiveness of past positions.

Beyond the résumé

Candidates are free to present themselves in the way they see most fit (outside of lying, of course). But what happens, say, if an employer asks about items like missing dates?

"First, that's a good thing because the applicant was invited in for an interview with the company," Cohen says. "He can always respond, 'I left it off intentionally. I wanted the attention to be focused entirely on my relevant and very valuable experience. Let me tell you about what I've done ... '"

Some job seekers, however, find it hard to sell themselves.

"I took my MBA off my résumé and tried to dumb myself down, but in the interviews, it got tricky," says Tiffany Bradshaw of California. "They would ask about certain experience and if I had it, and I felt like I was telling stories/lies to try to cover up the items I had taken off."

Likewise, employers may feel duped if the applicant who shows up is older than his résumé suggests or if the conversation feels disjointed.

"It's dangerous to leave relevant experience off a résumé, especially in the legal field," says Cheryl Heisler, president and founder of Lawternatives, a career-consulting firm for lawyers. "In much of the law, the devil is in the details. If you are perceived as loose or careless about those 'unimportant little details,' you can send the exact wrong message to a future employer. Better to 'spin' the parts of your background that might make you seem overqualified than to extract them."

The decision

Like most career decisions, there isn't an easy answer about what to keep or delete on a résumé. Perhaps reflecting on how to make the document appealing to a prospective employer while still painting a portrait you are comfortable with is key. For when a candidate feels confident about her presentation, it is bound to get noticed.

Beth Braccio Hering researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for Follow @CareerBuilder on Twitter.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Seven Self-Marketing Tips for IT Job Seekers

By Allan Hoffman, Monster Tech Jobs Expert

During the boom, techies with in-demand skills might have been offered a job after a perfunctory interview. Now employers are increasingly selective, so technology professionals -- even those with years of experience -- must face facts. To get hired you need to become a pro not just at coding Java or .Net, but at selling yourself to companies inundated with resumes.

This is no easy task for those who have forgotten how to pitch themselves to employers. "A lot of people are brand new to this," says Patti Wilson, owner of The Career Company, a Silicon Valley career-management firm.

Here's our crash course in the art of selling yourself, with seven tips to help you cope with the job market's new realities.

Assess Your Soft Skills
In 1999, two years of experience as a systems administrator might have gotten you hired. No longer -- not when you are competing against hundreds of candidates with skills similar to yours. Candidates must now assess their soft skills. "This is about doing a little bit of soul-searching," Wilson says.

Ron Peterson, branch manager at the St. Louis office of IT staffing firm Bradford & Galt suggests techies ask themselves about core competencies, especially mentoring and team-building. "Intangibles are going to sell this individual," Peterson notes.

Develop an Elevator Pitch
The elevator pitch is a brief self-marketing statement to be delivered at job fairs, conferences or other networking events. The pitch should echo the summary of a resume, according to Wilson, focusing on four key points designed to attract employers' attention. The pitch should sound informal and unrehearsed. To practice, deliver it to your answering voice mail, Wilson advises.

Learn to Network
As any salesperson understands, who you know is essential to finding leads. Networking is about being able to connect from person to person to person, Wilson says. "It's about building a web of relationships, until you meet someone who's looking for what you do," he adds.

That means attending technical conferences, classes, job fairs, IT organizations and professional networking events designed for IT professionals. Even civic organizations, such as arts groups and other nonprofits, can be useful. Plan lunches or after-work meetings with former colleagues, recruiters and others.

"Try to be out there and make an effort to be known," says Wesley Jost, who has retooled his networking efforts after being laid off. "If you sit around and wait for something to happen, you're going to be disappointed."

Seek a Support Structure
In order to learn, or relearn, networking and interviewing skills, look to organizations offering workshops or classes, such as NOVA, a one-stop career-development organization.

Know Your Audience
Selling yourself effectively means learning everything you can about a company, from the time you write a cover letter to interview day. Tech job seekers "need to have researched the company, be able to speak intelligently about the company and offer their skill set to solve the company's problems," says Barry Mills, national recruiting director for Matrix Resources, a national IT staffing company.

Be a Closer
Mills suggests techies use a traditional sales tactic for closing the interview. At the end of an interview, ask the interviewer, "Based on this interview, is there anything that would keep you from hiring me for this position?" As Mills notes, "It's very much a sales-type question." What's more, send a follow-up note to the individuals you've met at the company, thanking them for their time.

Practice Patience
Finally, don't be discouraged if finding a job takes weeks or months. "Practice patience each and every day," Jost says. "You won't be handed your job like you were a year ago." Put it this way: If you stop looking, you're out of the game. As any salesperson knows, perseverance is essential to closing the sale.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Want to get hired? Think like a publicist

Alina Dizik, Special to CareerBuilder

Being a publicist is hard work, but public relations pros may have all the right answers when it comes to landing a job or advancing up the corporate ladder. In "Be Your Own Best Publicist: How to Use PR Techniques to Get Noticed, Hired and Rewarded," publicists Jessica Kleiman and Meryl Weinsaft Cooper share their advice on how to use classic, well-tested PR techniques to get ahead.

Want to get a job or build your brand with the media savvy of a publicist? Here's what to do:

When online, keep it professional

You don't need to keep up with all the social networks, but make sure to set your best foot forward when it comes to Facebook friends, Twitter followers and LinkedIn connections. "You may think that tweeting 'My job sucks' or 'I'm so hung over today' is innocent, but if your boss or a potential employer reads that, it could reflect poorly on you," says Jessica Kleiman, co-author and vice president of public relations at Hearst Magazines. "In PR, we like to consider everything 'on the record' because you never know who's sitting next to you when you're complaining on the train or who's reading your online profile."

Craft a message

With little time to pitch a service or product to reporters, it's important for publicists to be concise with what they want to say. "The first thing we do when we get a new client or project is to map out our key messages," says co-author Meryl Weinsaft Cooper and managing director at DeVries Public Relations. "Think about the three things you want people to know about you and then consider how you plan to communicate that in your resume and, ultimately, in a job interview." With so many job applicants, being able to weave a concise message to capture a recruiter's or hiring manager's attention is key.

Do your research

"Never go into a job interview without having researched the company," Kleiman says. "We would never pitch a reporter without having looked up [the reporter's] last few stories or knowing what kinds of topics the outlet covers." To prep for the interview, talk to current employees at the company, read industry blogs and make sure you understand what this company and position is really about. The more you know about a particular company and job opening the easier it will be to tailor your experience and explain why you're really a fit.

Don't be afraid of rejection

Even when approaching a dream company, don't be paralyzed by the thought of rejection, say the book's authors. Knowing how to deal with frequent rejection is part of the process as a publicist and is an especially relevant skill in times of high unemployment. At times, publicists send out a 100 inquiries to get just one or two responses, the authors point out.

Forget instant gratification

One of the skills most publicists learn right off the bat is that nothing pays off instantly. Instead take time to really craft and slowly build relationships. Many publicists need to constantly call their connections to get a positive response and following-up is often a large part of the job. Use the same tactics to get ahead in your job search. Instead of sending a cover letter and forgetting about that specific hiring manager or recruiter, be persistent and continue to follow-up without outright nagging. Building long-term relationships means they'll think of you when an opportunity arises.

Make it constant

Being a publicist is a 24-7 job, and like a job search, requires constant upkeep. Just like publicists need to keep tabs on how their specific product, person or service is doing -- job seekers should keep up with new opportunities, add to their experience and understand the changes in their industry. "While many celebrities and politicians have teams of PR experts working with them to build and manage their images, anyone can use the same skills to promote their talents and accomplishments in the workplace," Kleiman says.

Alina Dizik researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for Follow @CareerBuilder on Twitter.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

UCF video-game graduate school ranks No. 2 nationally

By Denise-Marie Balona, Orlando Sentinel

University of Central Florida is home to a new medical school, a top-ranking research group and graduate programs for the region's business leaders.

And now it will be known nationwide for its ability to turn a group of people once seen as society's slackers – video gamers – into professionals capable of making big bucks in a multibillion-dollar industry.

On Tuesday, the Princeton Review, which puts out a host of college rankings each year, released its first-ever ranking of video game graduate schools. And UCF ranked No. 2 behind the University of Southern California.

UCF's program is small but its students have seen success, university officials said.

Since the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy opened in 2005, it has awarded master's degrees to 191 students who went to work for companies such as Disney, Google and Electronic Arts, which creates games for the Nintendo Wii and Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360, and Zynga, creator of the Farmville video game popular with Facebook users.

The Review ranked schools based on data collected during a survey of administrators at 150 schools in the U.S. and Canada. It considered factors such as curriculum, faculty and financial aid.

"For students aspiring to work in this burgeoning field, and for the companies that will need their creative talents and trained skills, we hope this project will serve as a catalyst for many successful connections," Robert Franek, a senior vice president at the Review, said in a prepared statement.

GamePro magazine will feature the ranking in its April issue, which will be on newsstands March 8.

The ranking focuses on 30 schools — the top 10 undergraduate programs, the top 10 graduate schools and 10 schools that rated Honorable Mentions.

UCF started offering game design as part of its undergraduate digital-media program last year,, a UCF spokeswoman said.

The top 10 undergraduate schools for video game design study for 2011 are:

1. University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA)
2. University of Utah (Salt Lake City, UT)
3. DigiPen Institute of Technology (Redmond, WA)
4. The Art Institute of Vancouver (Vancouver, BC, Canada)
5. Michigan State University (East Lansing, MI)
6. Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Worcester, MA)
7. Drexel University (Philadelphia, PA)
8. Champlain College (Burlington, VT)
9. Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, NY)
10. Becker College (Worcester, MA)

The top 10 graduate schools for video game design study for 2011 are:

1. University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA)
2. University of Central Florida (Orlando, FL)
3. Southern Methodist University (Plano, TX)
4. Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, NY)
5. Drexel University (Philadelphia, PA)
6. University of Utah (Salt Lake City, UT)
7. University of California, Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz, CA)
8. Savannah College of Art and Design (Savannah, GA)
9. Parsons The New School for Design (New York, NY)
10. The University of Texas at Dallas (Dallas, TX)