I recently had a phone interview for a subcontracting job at a small programming consulting firm. The interview was very short, and at the end, the interviewer told me that based on my resume, he thought I would be overqualified for the job and find it very boring.
I was rather confused by this because I don't have any real job experience and I'm still working towards my degree. Sure I played myself up on my resume --I go to a rather prestigious school, I listed every buzzword I could think of under my skill-set, and I jazzed up my work in high school for my dad's company --but I thought everyone did that.
What do employers mean when they say "overqualified"? What qualities of a person without job experience or a degree could make them overqualified?
How can I look just qualified enough when applying for future positions? I haven't bothered to apply for anything requiring a degree for fear of being underqualified. (I also hear they have bots that will trash my resume when it doesn't find 3-7 years of experience listed.)
Should I scrap the whole resume and just put I LOVE SINGLETONS! as the whole thing? :)
EDIT A quick clarification of what I mean when I say "I played myself up." I was very careful not to lie on my resume, and I only put things I could discuss and give a couple quick examples that made it seem like I really knew what I was talking about.
For example, under Leadership Experience, I listed a library group I was a part of in high school. We met once a week to mostly eat food and chat, but we did plan 2 events in the 4 years I was there. Without lying, I made it sound like we regularly organized massive library programs the entire 4 years I was there with the intention of describing the 2 events we did do if asked about it. We did legitimately put a lot of time, effort, budgeting, and planning into those events though.
As far as buzzwords go, I wasn't sure whether stuff like Object Oriented Programming would be more eye-catching or Test Driven Design would excite them, so I put everything I was familiar with. We didn't get a chance to talk about either the buzzwords or my work experience during the interview. He mostly just asked some questions about school.
I was really trying to make what I had actually done sound impressive to make up for not having work experience or a degree. Ironically, I was trying not to sound underqualified.
EDIT 2 I was talking to a friend about it, and he said the skills part of my resume sounded like I was lying. It looks like this:
- Fast learner: Learned C# in less than 2 weeks, code called “idiomatic” and “professional”
- Design paradigms: Object Oriented Programming, SOLID, Test Driven Design, DRY, Tell Don’t Ask, Law of Demeter, Principle of Least Astonishment, Information Hiding, Refactoring
- Design Patterns: State, Strategy, Builder, Factory Method, Abstract Factory, Composite, Decorator, Null Object, Object Pool, Prototype, RAII, Proxy, Façade, Flyweight, Observer, Bridge, Adaptor, Memento, Mediator, Visitor, Singleton
I'm not as proficient in MySQL and CSS as I am in C# and Java, but I did write a website for a class that used these things. I don't use Singleton, but I am familiar enough with it to know alternatives when I'm tempted to use it.
Other than those, I do have skills in these things that I think are adequate for an entry-level position. I started programming only 3 years ago, and I thought people who'd been programming since they were 15 would have more languages under their belt.
The general consensus seems to be that I should apply for my level of experience. Considering my lack of job experience and lack of degree, am I qualified to apply for more advanced positions? How would I get past the resume-trashing bots? Or should I cut things out of my resume to make it more believable for entry-level experience?