Don’t You Dare Dumb Down Your Resume!

do not dummy down your resume

Question: “I am overqualified for all the jobs I am applying for and not getting any response – do I need to dummy down my resume to get a response?”

Answer: No.

How is that for a short article? The question was answered, yet it probably does not eliminate the frustration of the original question, so let’s expand a bit.

First, do not ever dummy yourself. Period. For any reason, job or person. It is disrespectful to yourself and that is not a state of mind that is healthy or to operate.

For your resume, it is not a matter or overqualified, underqualified or just right qualified.

There are plenty of candidates that know they are a perfect fit for a job and still do not hear anything back.

There is a bigger issue at hand: focus. Focus on them. Focus on what is important to them. Focus your resume to make that connection.

Most resumes are compiled with two flawed premise: tell the reader what you were hired to do and speak to all your experience.

What you were hired to do are your duties, which are too often used as bullet points. No one cares what you were hired to do. They care what you did.

Speaking to all of your experience is a convoluted road map. This is not about you, this is about them and what they need. Your job is to provide a succulent road map that shows you are the solution to their problems.


Back to being overqualified and how to focus your resume to a specific position. Let’s use the example of having run your own business and now going after a sales leadership position.

Remember – we are focusing on them. Forget about your history for a minute and analyze the opportunity. Do your due diligence here and identify key factors including:

  • Company size
  • Product
  • Industry
  • Needs
  • Metrics
  • How you be measured and on what
  • Responsibilities

What does this job really entail? Now, how does that match up with what you have done?

If you were running a company, you were doing sales. There is overlap there, find it and mine it.

Running a company and sales have four goals in common: revenue, growth, profit and market penetration/expansion.

When you were running a company, how did you measure success? Do they echo what is typically used in a sales leadership role: ratio of new business versus repeat business, turnover rates, lead response time or rate of contact?

Some typical goals or responsibilities assigned to a VP of Sales or Sales leader include:

  • Strategic planning for developing business, hitting company goals, building go-to-market strategies and corporate sales plans
  • Recruiting, hiring, training, development, aligning behavior to culture
  • managing team of X number of people
  • Growing a channel
  • Managing key client relationships
  • Working in a specific industry, specific products/services to small/medium/large companies or to individuals
  • Closing key opportunities
  • Utilizing CRM to manage team tasks, pipelines and closing data
  • Analyzing, reporting on markets, trends, competition and metrics
  • Budgets, compensation, incentive programs, training, process management / improvement, forecasting


The new job’s responsibilities and metrics are your roadmap – take that back to where you have been to build a road right to the opportunity.

Use the 80/20 rule. In your resume, focus 80% of what you put on what aligns with the position and the remaining 20% on the remainder of what you did.

If you ran a company it is not going to be expected that you only focused on sales, there were other important responsibilities that you fulfilled. That is your 20%.

And you don’t have to tell them everything.

If you had some really major accomplishments that you think would scare the crap out of them, you don’t have to put those down. The point of your resume is to tell them your story the way you want them to understand it.


Speak to what you want, what you know as it aligns with where you want to go and soon they are going to want to be talking to you!



A little about me: I do what I love: help leaders break out of a suffocating corporate existence and into a position and place that renews their brilliance.

As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career personal branding firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging personal branding as applied to LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.

Click here – – to find out more about how we can help you.

To get all my latest articles, click the “Yes Please!” button on the right


Leave a Reply