When you have a family to support, and find yourself down-sized out of a job, there aren’t many things you won’t do to find your next position. I once dumbed down my resume, just to make myself a better candidate and not price myself out of the market.
I really needed to find something fast after I lost my job. I’d been manager of advertising for a major U.S. defense contractor. Then, after the government canceled a big project, my entire department was suddenly eliminated. With a big mortgage, car payments and two school-age kids at home, I knew I couldn’t be picky about finding a job as quickly as possible. I had two college degrees and more than ten years of management experience in industry and the U.S. Navy. I had accumulated a portfolio full of prize-winning creative design and editorial work.
I believed I was certainly qualified for a management job that offered a good salary and benefits. However, my timing for entering the ranks of the unemployed was unfortunate. The economy was bad, and job openings in my field were scarce. After searching for six months, I was convinced no one wanted a 40-something manager, even an experienced one with impressive qualifications.
In desperation of being overqualified and unemployable, I needed to create a different way to approach prospective employers. I lowered my expectations in my search from management jobs to those where I could apply my experiences in corporate advertising, public relations and business writing. To do this, I basically dumbed down my resume to help me get a new job.
I scrapped my original resume and application letter and composed more modest ones. I downplayed my management experience, emphasized my creative work, didn’t list my master’s degree, nor reveal the amount of salary I had been earning on my previous job.
The satisfying results from my dumbed-down resumes and other searches were four interviews. Then, when I talked with interviewers, I tailored my qualifications and experiences with specifics in the advertising and sales promotion fields. I played down my management past and, with samples displayed, emphasized my creative work.
After biting my nails at home for two weeks, there were two job offers. The salaries were 20 percent less than I had been earning at my previous job, but after six months of unemployment, they were more than welcome. I studied all aspects of the offers, and chose the one with the best benefits and health plan package. One attractive feature was a savings plan where company contributions matched my investments..
What did I learn from the experience? First, even if it takes a long time to get back into a satisfying job, don’t be discouraged. Be realistic about your situation and if you need to dumb down your resume or down play your experience, but know you can succeed in the position, it may be a good move. It was a good move for me and I was able to quickly succeed and excel in the new position.
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