I graduated from my master's program in International Relations just four months ago in May. I went to a top-10 school for my field of study in the US. I am still in the process of looking for employment, but to no avail. Apparently, the US job market is very tight with seemingly many available job opportunities.

The problem is that for the jobs that I am interested in, I lack experience because most to all of them require at least a certain number of years of experience. However, for other jobs that should be seemingly easy for me to get, I am overqualified. I got rejected by jobs that I am overqualified for too, such as a cashier position among many other rejections. I know that misrepresenting academic credentials are seen as the worst offense on the job seeker's part, but oftentimes the case that person is dishonestly boosting academic credentials.

Would it be okay for me to omit my master's program and undergraduate graduation date (just listing my undergraduate education) from my resume? I realize that my current lifestyle as a job seeker is unsustainable in the long run.

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  • Hello and welcome to the Workplace. I've edited your post to remove sections I thought were detracting from the problem and make it a bit easier to read; if I've messed with your original intent, please feel free to roll back. – rath Sep 14 at 9:01
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    Why do you want to omit your undergraduate graduation date? – Brandin Sep 14 at 13:36
  • @Brandin: Because if I omit my master's program from my resume completely, I don't want it to look like I spent over two years doing nothing. That is why I am considering this approach. From what I read, for some workers who are concerned about age discrimination, leaving out the undergraduate graduation date seems like a recommended approach. I hope that my time in my master's program doesn't go to waste in the long run. It simply is not helping me in the short run, though. – user92206 Sep 14 at 23:45
  • @user92206 But if you leave out the end date, they will either wonder if you graduated, or they will also wonder what you've been doing up till now. – Brandin Sep 15 at 5:41

Short answer: You can put whatever you want on your resume, as long as you're not lying about experience and education you don't have. So, sure, you can remove that section of your education. You can choose to share whatever information you feel is directly relative to how you want to present yourself as a candidate. It's not illegal to omit things like that.

Longer answer: I've worked with a specific type of individual as a career coach for a while now, and though you are not one of them, that short answer is similar to the response I give some of their questions.

I follow my own advice, even: I transitioned from being a flight attendant to a full-stack developer by going to bootcamp, then further niched down into UX Design.

For my first job in tech, I had my experience listed as Flight Attendant (and I even included my three years as a nanny), so I could include relative experience that would make me appear as desirable a candidate as I possibly could. It was a hilariously terrible resume, but I got in the door and really showed how smart I was in the interview. I got a chance and I proved my worth.

For my second job, I dropped all the references to previous jobs, and focused on the direct experience I got in the first job and all the freelance work I did. My resume was technically shorter and covered less time, but was directly relevant to the job I wanted to get.

tl;dr - Present yourself as you want to be received and tailor your resume to get the job you want. You want an interim job that just pays the bills while you get more experience? BE THAT YOU. You want to add the master's to your resume and get a job in your field after you get some experience? BE THAT YOU.

You got this.

Would it be okay for me to omit my master's program and undergraduate graduation date (just listing my undergraduate education) from my resume?

Yes, you can tailor the resume any way you choose by omitting any facts.

Removing the end date from your undergraduate education may be problematic though. When I see such a resume, I might wonder why the candidate didn't graduate.

Direct Answer:

Of course you can omit any experiences / education you wish from your resume. If you depart a previous employer on bad terms, that sort of thing is often recommended.

A resume is a representation of you. You cannot directly lie, but you can adjust your resume to better fit different positions. Always use discretion - if they ask you in an interview if you attended college the conversation could become awkward.

Long Answer

When hiring for entry-level positions, your main goal is to reduce turnover. Take the person who can get on their feet the quickest, and the person who is most likely to stay in that position for the longest time. They are looking for grunt work - and that is all (99% of the time).

For short-term entry-level positions do not feel bad that skirted some courtesies to get the job. Turnover is incredibly high and employee investment is incredibly low.

Knowing that - DO NOT give the employer ANY indication that you might be a flight risk. Be as boring as possible. These are the people they want to hire.

Side Note:

If you need to pay bills then you should try to find any work you can. But do not give up seeking jobs in your field just because you have not succeeded. Getting your foot in the door is getting half-way to where you want to be. Market yourself, get new contacts, participate in college research projects or clubs, do some web blogging on current topics. Stay evolved and active in that community.

Also in the U.S. very shortly you will see "Seasonal" job openings. These are usually very easy-to-get temporary positions that sometimes offer over-time and could be a great way to earn some income. Usually employers will ask a few of the best temps to stay on-board with them after the holiday season.

I lack experience because most to all of them require at least a certain number of years of experience. However, for other jobs that should be seemingly easy for me to get, I am overqualified.

This reeks to me of someone who has not learned the first rule of job hunting: The list of "required qualifications" for a job is actually anything but. When a job gets posted, usually one of a number of things is going on:

1) The company wants someone who knows their stuff. They proxy "knows their stuff" with "has X years experience" so that it's measurable. However, there are lots of people with 2 years experience who are gods in their field, and lots of people who have 15 years experience who don't know the first thing about what they're doing. If the company wants 10 years experience and you have zero, that's one thing; they're probably looking for someone senior and you're not senior. But if they're looking for 2 years and you have 6 months, they're probably just looking for someone who isn't a total moron but don't actually care about the experience level beyond that, and you should go for it.

2) The job description is probably posted by HR and not by the hiring manager. A lot of the time, HR will be given some standard buzzwords to throw up on some job site and they do so without actually critically thinking about what it is they're saying. Meaning, they might say "3 years experience" but actually be hiring for entry-level, because that's what they were told. This is also known as the "wish list approach" where HR is given a list of "wants" from the hiring manager and in the translation to a job description converts those to "needs"; they don't need all those things in reality.

There might be other reasons too. The point is, "years of experience" is usually the least important factor in whether or not you're qualified for a job. As long as you're not super way off-base, as long as you can prove to the interviewer that you're smart enough to do the job, you're probably good.

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