Q: I read an account on the Internet about a man who was laid off and was, like me, unable to find another job. He thought potential employers felt he was overqualified. So he "dumbed down" his resume, eliminating his college education. Apparently it worked. He got a job almost immediately. I am considering doing the same. What do you think? - A Reader
A: Kate: If you dumb-down your resume, make sure you are indeed going after a job you'll be content with. Otherwise, your emotions will betray you. You'll let your new employers know - unconsciously - that you are better than this, and they'll resent your discontent and you'll be right back in the job market.
Dale: Taken to its logical extreme, what your plan needs is for you to have a lobotomy - then your brain will be as dumbed-down as your resume. Instead, try a smarter search. If employers look at your background and conclude that you do not make sense for the job, they won't bother to figure out why you're applying; they'll just go to the next resume. You need a face-to-face networking search, not a resume search.
Kate: Yes and no. You need to make your story fit the job, but that can be accomplished in the resume and cover letter. First, put your job objective at the top of the resume. Even though you've, say, managed a department of accountants, you'd put "Job Objective: Accountant." Then, in your cover letter you explain yourself, perhaps like this: "At this stage in my career, I am no longer interested in accounting management but would like to go back to what I love most - the accounting itself." Employers need to understand why you are stepping back.
Dale: From the employer's view, why would you take a step back in your career? They probably won't assume that you've discovered your real passion unless you convince them - which is best done face-to-face. However, I agree with Kate that if you're going to send a resume, send an explanation. (Just remember to enclose a hope or prayer that they take the time to read it.)