Dear Sam: I retired from the military 10 years ago. Since then, I have held management positions, but I no longer wish to manage team members. Instead, at this juncture in my career, I am seeking a role where I can go to work, add value, and go home. How do I avoid being seen as overqualified on my resume when I apply for lower-level roles? — Edward
Dear Edward: Downsizing your career can be challenging as hiring managers will see the levels of your past roles and not assume you will be challenged and satisfied in a position at a more junior level. Let’s explore a few things you would do differently on your resume to help overcome that barrier.
You open your resume with an objective statement; instead, focus this section of your resume on what you can offer to an employer, not what you want from your employer. Present a “qualifications summary” to showcase the skills you offer that predict success in your target roles. Given you are seeking to contribute at a non-management level and therefore need to communicate to make it clear you are indeed applying for an individual contributor role purposefully, it is appropriate to use this space on your resume to share as much. I would suggest something like:
“Career-long track record of shaping exceptional customer experiences in high-velocity and fast-paced contact centers, now eager to leverage management background to add extreme value in an individual contributor capacity.”
By starting the statement with what you offer, you take the focus away from what you want. Instead, you are telling the reader that you are a great catch as you have contributed at a higher level in the past yet really do want a lower level at this point in your career.
In the professional history section of your resume, you must strike a balanced visual between the paragraph overviews of your roles (your responsibilities) and your bullet points (your key contributions or achievements). Currently, the paragraphs are so dense with content that they overshadow the ever-so-brief bullet points that prompt some of your key achievements. Even though you are not seeking another leadership role, you still want to communicate how you have contributed value in the past—which predicts your ability to continue to do so.
You have done an excellent job of only exploring back about 15 years, but realize that you are, in essence, undoing your strategy with the presentation of your undergraduate degree graduation year. Most hiring managers expect to see about 10-15 years of experience, so if you only include this amount, do not date your education section if it further ages your candidacy.
I am confident that once you showcase the value you have contributed in the past, while painting a clear picture of how that predicts your continued contributions at an individual level, you will secure interviews for those roles that let you leave your work behind at the end of the day.