Everyone has an opinion on the best practices for recruiting, interviewing, and resume writing. If you’ve been perusing job posting sites and following job alerts on Twitter, you’ve undoubtedly taken inventory of your resume and wondered if a masters degree or PhD would better qualify you for job listings with incredibly daunting requirements. It’s an excellent answer for which there are many questions.
Take a look at your industry: what’s required to climb the ladder? Which rung am I trying to get to? Do my superiors have advanced degrees? How competitive is the job pool for positions you’d qualify for? Take a look at any website offering online PhD programs: what are some of the most popular courses at accredited schools? Are there enough jobs in the field to accommodate them all? Is the material entirely relevant to what you aspire to do with your life?
It’s become so much more difficult to land a job as an entry-level college graduate because of poor job growth. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts an 18% increase in jobs for those with a masters degree by 2018 (from 2008). The same study also notes which fields will see that increase.
It’s obvious that this has compelled undergrads to go back to school, many with online degree programs, even if they have to temporarily go into debt to get ahead. It’s a worrisome thought, however, that in our messy economy, increased competitiveness might disincline companies to hire overqualified individuals. The definition of overqualification has become so subjective that it hinges on the opinion of the employer, so pay close attention to the education requirements’ wording:
- At least a Bachelor or Associate Degree
- 4 year college degree minimum
While we’re looking at deliberate wording, here are a few examples of risky wording, in which employers may be more likely to reject one seen as overqualified:
- Preferred minimum of undergraduate degree
- Preferred minimum of undergraduate degree or at least # years experience
Both of these sentence fragments imply that the employer will look more closely at the merits of job candidates and pay little to no attention to education and academic achievement. Do you have hard numbers and statistics from your career achievements to “fall back on”? Will your potential bosses see your degree and assume you’d be too expensive to hire?
Let’s stay focused on the positive, shall we? Let’s say that you’ve been hired for a position you’re doubtlessly overqualified for. Would you be too bored and unchallenged to engage fully and consistently in your work? Would you quit the second a more relevant job presents itself, even if it leaves the initial company in a lurch? How are you balancing career relevance with salary? And just how far are you from reaching that rung on your industry’s ladder?
There are other ways to give your resume more definition and tone. I’m not talking about resume writing or fonts here.
Keep your mind open to new learning experiences in your field; don’t let them slip by! Hiring managers are more frequently turning to social media profiles to get the low-down on their prospects; this “invisible resume” is to be wielded. What are you tweeting about? Do you show passion for your work? Are you complaining more than you show initiative?
How can you show real, hard-hitting-evidence initiative? Let’s say you’re a sous chef with a 2-year degree; where can you find additional education? Go overseas to the culinary world capitals for short term, private classes. Likewise, an online marketer would benefit from taking a few courses in social media marketing and attending industry conferences. These are just two ways you can punch up your “invisible resume”.
Whatever you do, don’t be quiet about it – make your sincere interest known in social networks and engage with people in your field. Chances are you’ll gain a ton of insight from your social networking peers without paying tuition.