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On "dumbing down" résumés

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mclennan has 8 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in CCM, PHN.

21,813 Profile Views; 684 Posts

On a bevy of job interviews over the last week or so, I'm finding that my experience and credentials are actually detrimental in interviews. Of course no one is direct about it, but I can ascertain from comments and remarks by hiring managers/interview panels that they clearly think I'm overqualified or I'll demand top pay.

I have 7 years experience as a BSN RN, have 3 ANCC certifications, CCM certification, and a Public Health Nurse license. I've worked Public Health, ambulatory/urgent care clinics, home health, and both inpatient and telephonic case management. Quality experience across specialties, great references, clear licenses with no restrictions, comfortable with several EMR/EHR systems, etc. Nothing terribly special but I've done okay in 7 years.

I'm pursuing part time work in CM, urgent care, clinic or even LTC as a plain old staff nurse. I have zero desire to be in management or administration. I just want to be an RN. And don't need to make top dollar.

Here's what I hear in interviews:

"Oh! With all these credentials you should be applying to management positions!"

"So, tell me why you're applying for this position. With your experience & certifications you could probably get a DON job or make a lot more than we can pay."

"Can you tell us a little more about all your certifications & credentials and how you'll utilize them in this job?" (Said with a suspicious tone)

"You know, (after a cursory glance at my résumé) we have a couple of supervisory & line management positions open."

I try to cheerfully respond with a clear statement that I'm just looking for humble RN work at this time, and that pursuing management or DON is something I'd like to consider at a later time. (I don't want to sound totally lacking in ambition). This seems to confound interviewers. One of them INSISTED on forwarding my paperwork to administration, saying "you would be a perfect fit for an admin position, I'm sure you're a fabulous clinic nurse but I think you're ready to move forward." She was being complimentary and enthusiastic, I didn't get the sense that she thought I'd be a CRAPPY staff RN or anything like that....it was nice of her but she didn't seem to understand.

I wish I could just blurt out, "I'm not going to demand big bucks or special snowflake treatment, or throw my weight around. I just want to patch people up quietly for fair pay!!!" But I really can't do that.

Frustratingly, it looks like I will have to remove some credentials from my portfolio and "simplify" things a bit.....I swear.....only in Nursing does twisted stuff like this happen. New grads can't get a leg up, and experienced RNs seem "expected" to pursue management/admin as soon as they have a few years in the trenches. I was told to get board certified at a Magnet hospital I worked at, and did....but now, those certs are scaring the payroll departments of other potential employers. We can't win. Anyone else have thoughts on this? Any feedback appreciated, I promise not to get defensive! :)

P.S. This post is NOT a humblebrag, I repeat, not a humblebrag. I really don't think I'm much of anything; in fact I'm shocked these places think I'm qualified for management! It's a smaller town so maybe the pickins are slim? I dunno.

Edited by mclennan

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HouTx has 35 years experience as a BSN, MSN, EdD and specializes in Critical Care, Education.

9,051 Posts; 45,684 Profile Views

Nope - it's not just nursing. A dear friend is dealing with this at the moment after being 'downsized'. She removed her graduate education from the resume & is now getting call-backs. I worked with a newly minted DrPH a few years back - who was looking for work to stay afloat while seeking a professional position. LOL - he had no luck at all, even in fast food "McJobs" until he faked a resume and gave himself a GED.

Heck, if someone like you came through the door, I'd hire you in a heartbeat! There are huge benefits from just having someone like you to serve as a role model for less experienced staff.

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Been there,done that has 33 years experience as a ASN, RN.

5 Followers; 6,314 Posts; 70,287 Profile Views

Are you certain it's the resume... not your demeanor ?

First impressions are made in the first 30 seconds.

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mclennan has 8 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in CCM, PHN.

684 Posts; 21,813 Profile Views

Are you certain it's the resume... not your demeanor ?

First impressions are made in the first 30 seconds.

I cannot imagine it would be my demeanor....I smile, make mild little jokes, am articulate, and have a quiet, confident voice. I am not cocky, loud, inappropriate, or a stammerer. One panel member even said "we'd love to have you on board, we just need to find a position for you!" With much laughter and shaking of hands. Another said "I think you're great, just not sure we could pay you what you're really worth!" I don't know.....I've had some experience in hiring people and know how to act, but who knows what goes on in people's heads?

Edited by mclennan

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22 Posts; 1,239 Profile Views

I don't have anything to offer other than it sucks that you're going to have to "dumb down" your experience just to get the kind of job you want. It's obviously only because of what you said, that they're afraid you're going to demand more pay than they're willing to shell out for the position you want because you have so many certs and experience. That being said, I have an honest question or two, and this is not in any way at all directed in a negative manner, I'm really just ignorant on this topic because I'm not even a nurse yet. Is it actually okay for you to not list all credentials on your resume? Wouldn't that look bad on someone down the line if your employer found out you had more certs than you let on? Wouldn't that be the same thing as lying on an application and could get you terminated later? If the answer = no, it's absolutely okay to do this, then by all means have at it. I just really didn't know.

It's stupid and you shouldn't have to pretend to be less qualified or less experienced to make other people feel comfortable with hiring you. You should be able to show your hard work and be proud of it, and not have to worry that you're not going to get a call back because you've got "too much experience". Sorry this is happening to you OP.

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4 Followers; 37,690 Posts; 103,317 Profile Views

My husband encountered the same thing in another line of work, but since he was usually interviewed by men, they usually were a little more direct with him, to the point of removing the veil from their age (experience) discrimination. He was very discouraged by this.

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Been there,done that has 33 years experience as a ASN, RN.

5 Followers; 6,314 Posts; 70,287 Profile Views

A shame that they cannot appreciate your skills and your objective . Thinking they want to put you in the place THEY ( whoever they are) have in their their minds.

Firmly convinced you will find a place that needs you.

Let us know what FABULOUS position you find!

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Whispera is a MSN, RN and specializes in psych, addictions, hospice, education.

3,458 Posts; 28,588 Profile Views

You said, "I wish I could just blurt out, "I'm not going to demand big bucks or special snowflake treatment, or throw my weight around. I just want to patch people up quietly for fair pay!!!" But I really can't do that."

Why can't you say this, in more subtle words?

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CrunchRN has 25 years experience as a ADN, RN and specializes in Clinical Research, Outpt Women's Health.

1 Follower; 4,213 Posts; 30,685 Profile Views

Absolutely strip it down. When I hired clinic nurses I would never think anyone with all that stuff would stay long or I was suspicious of WHY with all that they wanted to accept they pay of a plain old clinic nurse which is usually significantly less...............

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malamud69 has 10 years experience as a ADN, BSN, EMT-B and specializes in Emergency.

574 Posts; 11,970 Profile Views

Reminds me of the movie "Idiocracy" seems like that as a society as a whole we are trending this way...beware pre-conventional morality...there is however something to be said for honing down a resume to "fit" the position...like charting by exception

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7 Articles; 1,144 Posts; 38,090 Profile Views

So on one hand we are being told to go back to school for advanced degrees, and on the other hand we are then considered overqualified.

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452 Posts; 9,031 Profile Views

I have a friend who running into a similar situation- he has a Bachelor's in Special Education, but doesn't want to teach any more. He has applied for numerous lower level jobs, and interviewers keep asking him about his degree, and he never gets any job offers.

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