Archive for April 26th, 2008

The worst best criticism

Saturday, April 26th, 2008

I have an MA degree in Communication and Culture. This is undoubtedly something that I am quite proud of. However, I am applying to entry to mid-level positions in the media and an MA is never a requirement. Throughout my job search I have grappled a bit with the question of how prominently to showcase the masters degree on my applications.

I started out putting my education first on my resume before I realized that my work experience was more impressive to the types of jobs I was applying. I downgraded my education on the second page, but then friends who I got feedback on my resume kept telling me that my masters was most impressive and that I should put it first. I felt however, that hiring managers taking their first glance would see that and might get turned off. I really want to convey, more than the fact that I’m well-educated, that I have a lot of experience, I am a very hard and reliable worker and I am willing to do things that aren’t as “sexy” or high-level, but necessary to gain experience and carve out a place for myself. On the other hand, an MA degree proves that I am capable of a lot of commitment, hard work, independence, and all sorts of other good qualities that I also can convey. A compromise I came to was mentioning my degree first and only briefly in my “relevant skills” section, but keeping my education on the second page. I have been happy with this arrangement up until now.

Very recently, a few things have happened that have opened up this question again. My friend, an account supervisor at one of the better ad agencies suggested I move my “solid education” to the front of the resume, bring up again this question of emphasizing the academic qualifications. But also lately, I have gotten a few responses on my resume saying that I am over-qualified. They think I would be “too smart” for or “bored” in the position. And this is only from those that have bothered to give me feedback. This is the kiss of death that I have been dreading all along.

So after giving it more thought, I have decided the only thing I can do is anticipate people worrying that I’m over-qualified by emphasizing my willingness to slog it out and perform necessary lower level tasks, with the expectation of moving up in the future in my cover letter. I’ve decided to keep the short mention of the MA at the beginning and the details on the second page after my work experience. Hopefully this will pique the interest of hiring managers with openings that have potential for growth and they will want to meet me so they will see that I’m down to earth and eager to work hard and prove myself.