Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Dumbing yourself down to get a job

Here's my new and improved resume, spit-shined and streamlined to include only the most pertinent information in these times of woe and want:

"Has face."

Man, talk about a warped reality. In 2009, "padding your resume" means dumbing it down to avoid the risk of looking overqualified for a job for which you're most definitely overqualified.

I completely understand this logic, even if it is, at the end of the day, a form of deception. No one wants to hire an egghead Harvard Ph.D to flip burgers, because the egghead Harvard Ph.D will likely bolt the second a better opportunity presents itself.

Speaking from experience, it's horribly frustrating to get shut out of a job (or jobs) simply because you played the game and did all the right things with your life — get good grades, go to college and earn a degree, advance your career, maintain a strong work ethic, etc. I think I've mentioned this before, but when I returned from Europe in 2002, I was jobless for four months, and in that time I applied at a lumber yard, pizza joint, Borders and countless other blue collar, retail and service industry jobs and didn't so much as get a call back for any of them.

But like I said, I see their point. After college graduation and before my first professional job, I landed a job as a door guy at a Kent State bar, mostly on a bullshit story about looking to go back to school winter semester. I had little, if any, intention of going back to school winter semester. I had simply run out of money and needed more cash to maintain my Dude-like existence that fall, which consisted of leeching off my parents, sitting in a hot tub, hanging out on campus and getting loaded with my best friend.

But I got sick of being the door guy after a month of taking shit from knucklehead frat boys and other assorted collegiate assholes, so I got off my duff, sent out some resumes and landed a newspaper job. When I told the bar manager I was quitting, it was the first and only time I've ever been laid into for leaving a job. He totally called me out on the bullshit story about going back to school winter semester, and I totally deserved it.

Yet, in that month as the door guy, I worked my ass off, and it wasn't exactly glorious work. But I showed up on time, stayed late and never complained. Wouldn't an employer want to hire an eager beaver with a strong work ethic, as opposed to a less-attractive candidate who would barely get the job done on a rudimentary level but, more importantly, never bolt for greener pastures?

Right now, people aren't likely to hop from job to job — they're happy just to get what they can and hold on to it for dear life. So what if hiring the egghead Harvard Ph.D comes back to bite you in the ass — just call one of the other candidates and hire him then. And if that doesn't work out, hire someone else. I think I might know a few people looking for work.


  1. My mom is having this same issue. After my mom was laid off she decided it was time for a job with less responsibility as she is nearing retirement anyway. She's applied for jobs all over and everyone is telling her she is overqualified. She doesn't have a college education but has a solid work history. Between that and the fact that employers don't see her as becoming long term employee due to her age she has pretty much given up finding a job right now.