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Recruiters Speak: I Would Never Hire Someone Who ‘Didn’t Lie Very Well’

There’s been some discussion in these here parts about people being turned down for jobs for being overqualified. We noted that some frustrated jobseekers have taken to hiding their experience on their resume…which recruiters hate, because it is technically a lie. But our commenters argued that people who want to work want to work whether or not some external force deems them “too smart” or “too experienced” and it’s short-sighted of recruiters to toss out resumes on that basis.

So what to do? We took to the experts:

Ben Long
is president of Travaille Executive Search in D.C., which places public relations pros and marketers across the country.

He writes:
“I would never not include educational achievement as it indicates ambition and dedication. I would only trim experience if it was early in the career or totally irrelevant to the job being considered. Recruiters are now much more willing to look at candidates who might appear overqualified if there are very logical reasons for the candidates to be interested in a given position as in location, stability of employment or helping shift the career in a new direction. Recruiters worth their salt will understand this.”
To hear from two more experts, click the jump:



Byrne Hobart
‘s a former recruiter who joined Blue Fountain Media, an online marketing company, and now handles multiple tasks, including recruiting and staffing.

“Never fudge a resume,” he told us. “Experienced recruiters can catch it, and it’s an automatic rejection. With so many qualified people out there, it’s just not worth it to hire someone who either a) didn’t tell the truth, or b) didn’t lie very well.”

So what to do? Hobart echoed Long’s statement: recruiters will understand if you have good reasons for taking a pay cut. State it in your cover letter, not your resume:

Given how many people are applying for jobs right now, you have to grab the recruiter’s attention in the first sentence (without sounding too gimmicky). A cover letter emphasizing the desire to learn something new will go a long way towards helping an “overqualified” candidate find a great job. If you’re willing to take a pay cut — say so (but not at the beginning of your cover letter; if “I’m great for the job because…” shows them you can do the job and would like to, they’ll be willing to read on to see whether or not they can afford you).

And, he suggests, bear in mind that recruiters and HR managers are typically more conservative than the person who’d become your boss. “No recruiter or HR manager wants to look bad by submitting an unconventional resume to the boss; giving someone a bland, cookie-cutter fit is a safer move. So it’s best to target the person you want as a boss, not the person whose job is to reject resumes.” (This goes back to the Poynter chat where Joe Grimm suggested using your research skills to dig up the name of the hiring manager.)

Cory Huff of NetBiz, a search engine marketing firm, has experience as a hiring manager. He does what we suspect many recruiters don’t:
“Whenever I receive a resume for a position and it appears that the applicant has more experience than the average applicant, I will usually call that applicant and discuss it with them on the phone.” Wow! And he’s less worried about employees jumping ship. “The reality of the job market is that people don’t stay in positions for more than a few years anyway,” he says. “Many employees perceive that the only way to get a substantial raise is to change companies. If I can find a highly skilled person to fill a position for just a few years, I am often willing to take those skills for the time I can get them.”

So, what do you think? Is creating a kick-ass cover letter enough to keep your “overqualified” resume from the slush pile? Is it still easier to just delete that MFA? And would you count on most hiring managers being as kind as Cory? (We wouldn’t..)

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