A piece by Jarrod Shanahan at Vice is timely:
I have two resumes. One of them states that I graduated from high school and learned how to drive a truck, work dispatch for deliveries, lead a work crew, and show up places on time. The other reveals that I am a published scholar with a Master’s Degree in philosophy summa cum laude from a prestigious New York institution you’ve probably heard of. Guess which one gets me called back?
Hint: Socrates isn’t hiring.
Pretty much everyone lies on their resume, or resumes, since you probably have a few different versions of your life depending on who’s asking. Most people innocently pad their qualifications with cute euphemisms and half-truths, turning “food runner” into “expedition specialist” or “assistant manager” into “team leader.” We fill gaps between jobs to avoid nosey questions or leave off past employers likely to give us a bad reference.
A bold few take it a step further and invent fictitious college degrees, as in the famous case of former M.I.T. Dean of Admissions Marilee Jones, who resigned in 2007 after 28 years of passing as a PhD despite not receiving any of the three degrees she claimed to have earned on her resume. And Ms. Jones, from one bullshitter to another: You had a good run. But in my case, I got the fancy degree, and I lie by leaving it off.
I’ve thought of leaving off my master’s degree, not only because I think it will increase the value of my resume in the minds of potential employers, but also because I’m interested in the topic from an academic standpoint.
I’m sure there are plenty of theories on whether or not an advanced degree looks good on a resume. There are probably some HR experts who believe that every single credential increases the value of the resume. But some do acknowledge that there is a such thing as too much of a “good” thing:
Many of today’s positions require candidates to have a bachelor’s or master’s degree. If you continued to pursue education to obtain other degrees, earning you the title of Ph.D., M.D. or others, don’t be so quick to include that information on your resume.
You have to ask if it is at all relevant to the job you are applying for. It’s great if you moved on to obtain your Ph.D. in neuroscience, but if the employer’s business and the job is focused on finance and accounting for toy manufacturing/distribution, your additional education will be of little relevance and may sway an employer to reconsider whether you are relevant for the position.
There are some experts who suggest that you should remove the highest level degree you have from your resume. By doing so, you’ll lower your chances of being ruled out before you have had a chance to interview.
And another testimony:
Seven months later, she’s still looking. There’s little to stretch her in her waitressing job at a local café: she had to remove her degree from her CV when she found jobs weren’t available because she was seen to be overqualified.