If you don’t have a college degree, the chances are high that you might be competing with a candidate that does. While we all know that on-the-job experience can trump a degree in some instances, sometimes employers place a lot of emphasis on a two- or four-year college credential. In our opinion, an employer should never assume that you can’t be a qualified candidate with experience but no degree. However, it happens. In these cases, you need to write a resume that makes the degree seem like an afterthought. Here’s how to do it.

No Degree? You Can Still Win on Your Resume

One common scenario that we see is that some job candidates didn’t finish their degree. They may have snagged a full-time job or had trouble with financial aid, or perhaps they dropped out to take care of an elderly parent. Or, they’re taking a sabbatical and plan to return later. How do you address this in your resume?

List the education you have achieved to date on your resume. You could put some of your coursework relevant to the job you’re applying for in the resume’s education section. If you’re planning on graduating at a specific time, say, “Anticipated graduation (year).” You can also address what’s going on with your college education in your cover letter.

Highlight your alternative educational experience. But also use your work experience to your advantage. Your practical work experience brings a lot of skills to the job. You know the industry and how to navigate it in the real world.

Say you didn’t go to college and took a bootcamp or other coursework, go ahead and mention them in your resume. You may have valuable certifications that the employer will look favorably upon. Add these credentials under “certifications” on your resume. Or, if you didn’t go to college but have very relevant experience to the job you’re applying for, highlight that strongly in your resume. Your goal is to show the organization that you are a good match for the job, and you have more experience than the standard credentialed candidate.

Consider reaching out to your references from prior companies and ask if they would share a one or two-sentence testimonial about your work. You could list that right on the resume along with the person’s name, title, company, and contact details.

If the company you’re applying to is adamant that you must have the degree, here’s a tip; consider sending your resume to their competitor. The goal here is for you to turn things around and make lemonade out of lemons, if necessary. We’re not saying that you should skip applying if you’re highly qualified but can’t meet the job’s degree requirement. We are saying that sometimes companies hold on tightly to the educational requirement without giving it a lot of thought.

Talk with the team at IES Custom Staffing. We have a strong employer network and many jobs available that may fit your experience and/or credentials. We’d be happy to look at your resume and make suggestions to help improve it. Call us today.

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