Hiding Experience Means Hindering Growth

How bad is the U.S. job market? So bad people are padding their résumés to get interviews? Not exactly -- it's more like the opposite. People have begun watering down their résumés to seem more appealing to jobs below their experience level. This is bad news for job seekers, but it's also bad news for the U.S. economy.

Yahoo featured an article from the Wall Street Journal this morning that explains this phenomenon:

Securing work in a tight economy means more job seekers might find themselves applying for positions below their qualifications. Many unemployed professionals are willing to take paycuts for the promise of a paycheck. But to get a foot in the door, candidates are gearing down their résumés by hiding advanced degrees, changing too-lofty titles, shortening work experience descriptions, and removing awards and accolades.

I can relate. After college, during another period in history when the job market was pretty grim, I considered taking one of my majors off my résumé with similar reasoning. I was talking to a friend just yesterday considering résumés for an entry-level position. My friend received a six-page résumé from a candidate so overqualified, she won't even be considered.

This is alarming news for the U.S. economy. If job seekers are accepting positions at lower levels than their experience should dictate, then their talent and experience is not being fully utilized. That, in turn, means economic growth will be stunted. For growth to be maximized, all workers should be making full use of their capabilities.

How much will this harm growth? It depends on how long it takes for the economy to begin to expand at a rapid pace. Once employment returns to the 95% threshold, these job seekers can begin trading up and returning to positions for which their experience is more suited. That is, of course, if their résumé is not tarnished permanently by spending several years in a position that is a step back on their career path.

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Daniel Indiviglio was an associate editor at The Atlantic from 2009 through 2011. He is now the Washington, D.C.-based columnist for Reuters Breakingviews. He is also a 2011 Robert Novak Journalism Fellow through the Phillips Foundation. More

Indiviglio has also written for Forbes. Prior to becoming a journalist, he spent several years working as an investment banker and a consultant.

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