This poll was inspired by a comment from a friend.

Vote now:

Have you ever dumbed down your resume?

  • Yes (60%, 122 Votes)
  • No (40%, 80 Votes)
Started: June 27, 2013 @ 3:16 pm

Total Voters: 202

Does it make finding a job easier?

A friend of mine contacted me recently to ask for advice about this job search. Among other things, I told him to send over his CV so I could give him some feedback.

Once he did, I noticed something strange. He used to be the CEO of a small company but on the CV, he had put his job title as Marketing Manager.

When I asked him why not include the CEO mention, which sounds impressive, he responded that “when people see that, they won't take me to be ‘just' a marketing manager” because a CEO position “is not what I am trying to get.”

This reminded me of another story.

Back in 2002 after the Dot Com Crash, I was on my first job search in Israel and not doing very well. I'd been looking for over 4 months at that point and hadn't had one interview yet.

Attending a friend's birthday party, I met someone who was also looking for a programming job.  He had about 8 years of experience, but he said that his CV only mentioned the past two years' of work because a few companies had told him he was overqualified, and getting desperate for a job, he was willing to ‘forget' 6 years to get an entry-level job again.

I thought he was crazy but only having 2 years of experience myself at the time, it was hard to put myself in his shoes.

So what about you: have you ever dumbed down your resume? If you haven't, would you or not? Tell us in the comments.

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Jacob Share

Job Search Expert, Professional Blogger, Creative Thinker, Community Builder with a sense of humor. I like to help people.

This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. Shalom Bresticker

    I have never done this myself, but was never in the position where it might be relevant.

    However, I do know a number of people, including my manager, who now have a job position “lower” than their previous one. As far as I know, none of these people had hidden their previous titles.

  2. Peter Martin

    Interesting question.

    Surprising poll results (well, to me).

    Rather depressing reflection on the job market and state of recruitment.

    To be hired as a result of a dumbed down resume, I am minded of the Groucho Marx comment that he would not wish to join a club that would have him as a member.

  3. Jacob Share

    Shalom- it’s good to hear that some employers are capable of seeing beyond “being overqualified.”

    Peter- it is depressing. I also don’t like the idea of people feeling the need to dumb down. I want people to get the most return on their self-investment. But if it’s just a temporary blip to get access to a new, better career path, it is worth considering.

  4. Peter Martin

    Jacob – Indeed. And ‘doing what is necessary’ is perhaps a sound strategy. However, we are in an internet era and I wonder if resumes tuned to the extent of dumbing down (ie: leaving out experience) may not flag up easily the attempt and make things worse?

    Mind you if the ‘real’ one is getting no bites, where’s the harm?

    However, it may get awkward down the line. For instance, I guess I could ‘sell’ myself as a copywriter just via the places I have worked and my porty.

    However, if it came to interview, it may be tricky if it turns out I was also Creative Director or Qwner too:)

    My experience is that those seeking candidates, or more likely those they hire to do it, will know pretty fast all they need to get one in… or politely pass.

  5. Shay Hampton-Gregory

    I needed to get a JOB recently and applied for a receptionist position where I got to set my own hours. I totally “dumbed down” my resume. Didn’t lie about my “real” experience but I put my 15-20 year old right-out-of-college admin jobs front and center via a functional resume. I am a career coach, too, so I like to think I have some sound strategies under my belt 🙂

  6. Shay Hampton-Gregory

    Oh, by the way, I got the job! A little brag on myself: I have never interviewed for a job that I didn’t get! It was a very good “fill in” until I was ready to devote all of my energy to growing my business.

  7. Jacob Share

    Peter – that’s an excellent point. With the vast majority of employers/recruiters now googling candidates’ names, dumbing down your resume is betting on your employer being dumber than most, or at least, behind on the times.

    Shay- wow, what a marksman, a %100 interview rate. What’s your secret? Do tell. And thanks for the story.

  8. Shay Hampton-Gregory

    My secret: preparation! Lots of research about the company and the position. It also helps that only two or three of my interviews ever were “cold” interviews where I did not know anyone within the organization personally. Networking is the key! I also think I am good at establishing rapport with people very quickly, whether it is standing in the line at the grocery store with them or in an interview. I make sure to bring the point home that I am a really quick learner, so I can flex into a lot of different positions. So, lots of luck (aka networking) and some skill as well 🙂

    1. Jacob Share

      Shay- good stuff. I’m not surprised! If you can target a company so well, you make it seem like they’d be dumb to not hire you.

  9. Juliana

    I’m in the process of dumbing my resume down now. I’ve been unemployed for 2 LONG years!!! I’m to the point where i’d take a job at McDonald’s if it could pay rent!!! I have a ton of worthy experience, viable skills and drive, but have never been good at “selling myself”. The design jobs are few and far between, and so competitive. Potential employers see that i’ve been unemployed for 2 years and think “what is wrong with her?!” when it’s really about a crappy market out there. I recently had an interview for a grocery chain. I was SO excited and knew i’d get it. Less than an hour after i left they called to say “sorry, we went with someone with more experience”. More experience with what??! I have a TON!! I’ve got the skills to be a marketing director to be honest. More experience with the chalk pens perhaps? I don’t know. I was so frustrated. It’s time to rethink and revamp ME. Market myself like a product…which i’m very good at, having working in marketing for several years. So lets see how dumb i have to make my resume to find a job!! 😉

  10. Jacob Share

    Juliana- what you need to is a skills assessment. Make a list of all the skills you have that employers need and rate them from 1 to 5. This should help you focus on what you’re best at. Then, research which relevant jobs are most *in demand*. Let the market determine where you would be a best fit. Then, once you’ve found a job where in your skills are needed i.e. you’re put in a position to succeed, you’ll start to get a better idea of which direction to move in next.

  11. Kate

    It’s amazing how many people have to hide their educational backgrounds just to get their foot in the door at a company that does not want intelligent people stirring things up.

  12. Jacob Share

    Kate- ‘dumbing down’ isn’t only about education. It can involve removing work experience/skills/certifications, reducing the role you had a given company or just generally toning down the message of the resume itself.

  13. UnemployedFinanceProfessional

    I did! for the sake of experiment. 2 months ago I applied for a Fin. Analyst role and of course, got rejected. Now, they re-posted the job again. The exact same job! So, I removed 10 years of my experience and listed only 2 last companies I was working for and today got a call for an interview! Isn’t it age discrimination of some sort?? My ‘honest’ resume has 15 yrs of relevant experience in the field and the dumbed down one only 5. I cannot stand these employers!!!!!!

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