Laid-Off and Starting to Panic

An unemployed woman seeks advice about whether or not to 'dummy down' her resume to get a job.

Your Career Coach

Laid-Off and Worried

Dear Michele,

I relocated to the Los Angeles area from Austin Texas in January of 2008 due to a lay-off and have yet to find employment. My field of expertise is in the banking industry working in such departments as mortgage lending and Account Executive for second liens. I am also a business banking specialist. Since moving to LA I have been rejected in the lending arena due to the housing crisis, I was nixed in the banking aspect because of bank closures and mergers as well. I have even been to several agencies to find employment but after numerous interviews I am considered too over qualified.

During my struggle I have been repeatedly asked to dummy down my resume, because at this point I am now looking for any kind of employment to make ends meet. Isn’t making less of my accomplishments or even omitting them the same as lying? I am at the point of desperation and could really use your help.

       — Lost in LA

Dear Lost,

First, let me say that I am really sorry that you’re in this position. It’s a tough time to be looking for a job – even tougher to find something in the financial services sector. What I suggest is this: Step back and inventory your “macro skills,” rather than looking at yourself solely as a banking industry pro. What is it that you know how to do?
Manage projects with many moving parts? Are you detail oriented? A good manager of people? Able to translate complicated materials into understandable layman’s terms? Get really clear on your big picture strengths, then make sure your resume features *those* rather than banking industry jargon.

Ask yourself: Who needs these kinds of skills? I have some ideas – math teachers, DECA teachers, credit counselors. You may also want to look at federal, state and local governments, especially those agencies dealing with mortgage defaults and/or restructuring their own debt.

Finally, with unemployment rising employers are going to be able to choose the very best people – it’s a pure matter of supply and demand. Where they may have thought that a Master’s degree would be perfect, they’ll now be able to afford PhDs. So, being “overqualified” may just start to work in your favor. Good luck.

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