BY TERESA MULOMI
What is the biggest mistake you have ever made on your CV?
Is it poor fonts, poor grammar or poor structure? Sometimes, seemingly harmless mistakes can hinder your job search.
Lucy, a senior actuary director learned the hard way that sometimes overstating her achievements and qualifications could get you disqualified.
This is her story:
Education is my most prized possession and I have dedicated most of my life to learning and studying.
I have a Master’s Degree in Actuarial Science and a Ph.D. in Business Statistics. When I finished my Ph.D. I began applying for senior level executive jobs in insurance but I was never invited for job interviews.
After 1 year with no job, I got desperate and decided to apply for entry level positions in order to get a head start and gain some experience to showcase on my CV. It became more about surviving and paying my bills rather than getting a quality job that matched my educational qualifications.
I thought that just because I had all these accolades – a Degree, a Master’s Degree, a PhD and over 10 professional certificates, I would automatically qualify for entry level positions.
I applied and applied and applied.
I send out a total of over 200 CVs but got no response. I was almost giving up hope when I got an interview invitation.
The position wanted diploma holders but I was determined to get the job even with my Ph.D. The interview, was a 3-stage process. I passed the first stage which involved a practical timed exercise and test.
I went onto the next stage which was a face to face interview with a panel of 8 interviewees. During the interview, the interviewers were shocked that with all my academic qualifications, I was applying for entry level jobs.
They kept shaking their heads and murmuring and I knew I was in trouble. Luckily, I was successful. I moved onto the third stage and by now I was confident that I would get the job.
In the third stage, I had to sit down with the CEO of the company who had the final say.
Like the other interviewees, he too was shocked.
He out rightly told me that even though I was the best candidate he would not hire me because I was overqualified for the position. According to him, my education and experience far exceeded those that the position actually required.
I was surprised.
First, I believe that there is no such thing as too much knowledge or too much experience. There is always something to learn and something new to experience.
Secondly, I did not understand why being overqualified was a bad thing. Overqualified to me meant that I would be a superstar employee who would surpass expectations and go above and beyond to deliver quality. I thought this is what most employers would want – an overqualified employee.
I was wrong.
I did not get the job. Someone else less experienced with a diploma got the job.
From that point on, I removed my Master’s degree and Ph.D. from my CV and only then did I get a job as an Actuarial Analysts where I work.
I never mentioned my higher degree to anyone in my organization until after working for 2 years when the company advertised for an Actuarial Associate job which required a Masters Degree. I applied and I was promoted.
After working for another 4 years as an Actuarial Associate, the Senior Director resigned and the company was hiring again.
This time I updated my CV-adding my Ph.D. degree and the experience I had gained in the company in the past 6 years. My bosses were shocked to know that I had a Ph.D. all this time. I was hired and I am now the Senior Director, Actuary.
Sometimes, when applying for your CV you need to hold some of your cards close to your chest. No the balance between revealing too much and too little. Revealing too much information may give employers ammunition to disqualify you and stating too little may fail to give employers enough information to prove you are the best candidate.
If you have an advanced degree but you are applying for jobs that require basic or no degree qualification, do your research and use your discretion to know whether to include your degree or not because in some cases the employer may think you are over-qualified and disqualify you automatically.
Do you know the harmless mistakes you might have overlooked on your CV? It’s never too little too late to make improvement on your CV. And sometimes expert eyes are the best eyes to review your CV. Get your CV improved by professional CV writers here.