How to write a resume with no college degree
Writing a powerful resume is a crucial part of the job application process - for any position. If you do not have a four-year degree, your resume should focus on three sections: your work experience, skills, and expertise. Many employers choose to focus on areas other than formal training, so it’s crucial to make sure your resume highlights the other aspects of your professional self.
Writing a resume without a college degree doesn't have to be difficult. By focusing on your experience, skills, and expertise, you can create a powerful resume that will help you get the job you want. In this article we’ll look at why it’s important to write a resume and what you should be including.
Why is it important to write a resume without a degree?
There are many reasons writing a resume is important, regardless of the position you are applying for. A resume is your opportunity to make a good first impression on hiring managers. It helps you show recruiters why your skills match those required for the job.
If you do not have a college degree, your resume should focus on three main sections: your work experience, soft skills, and expertise. By focusing on these areas, you can create a powerful resume that will help you get the job you want.
Most job seekers write just one resume during their job search and use it for all the positions they apply for. However, this is not the most effective approach to writing a resume. Your resume should be tailored to each job you are applying for, highlighting the aspects of your professional self that are most relevant to that particular position.
In today's job market, prospective employers are looking for well-rounded applicants — those with skills and experience that can't be taught in a classroom. If you haven’t been to college, don’t worry. You’ve likely picked up many transferable skills from previous work experience, volunteer roles, or time spent caring for others.
A shocking 24% of hiring managers spend less than 30 seconds looking at a resume, so it’s important your resume looks professional and is well-organized. Put your most relevant experience — that which best matches what the job needs — first. Use gaps between section of writing to make it easy to read.
What to include when writing your resume
When you're ready to write your resume, start with a strong opening statement summarizing your skills and experience. Writing a functional resume — which highlights your skills and experience rather than providing a chronological work history — might be a good option if you're changing careers or have gaps in your employment history.
Include completed or earned certificates, programs, and specialized training on your resume
If you have passed or successfully completed any program relevant to the job you are applying for, be sure to include it on your resume. Do not assume that the hiring manager, or more likely the Applicant Tracking System (ATS), will make the connection between your work history and your trained expertise.
Emergency medical technician (EMT)
Medical billing and coding programs
Personal care licensure (barber, cosmetology, etc.)
Special driver’s licenses and operating permits
Technical professional licenses
Include your academic accomplishments on your resume
A high school diploma, GED, and vocational education should be included on your resume. If you are actively enrolled in any type of training program, you should indicate that on your resume. You can also include relevant online courses. Don’t forget to add any extra-curricular activities and any special recognition or awards you may have earned.
List your work experience on your resume
Your work history shows potential employers what you've done, who you've worked for, and how long you were in the role. If you have a lot of work experience, you may want to list this first on your resume. Often, employers value skills and expertise as much as, if not more, than formal education.
If you have fewer than three jobs to reference, you should still include this information, but you may want to consider putting this section a little further down on the page. Remember that volunteer work counts as marketable work experience, too!
As you describe your duties and responsibilities at each job, use the same words the employer uses in the job posting when describing your experience. Try to include as many of those words as possible!
This will help your resume pass any applicant tracking system (ATS) the hiring manager is using. Many businesses now use ATS to help them screen resumes and candidates. Using relevant keywords from the job description flags to the system that you probably have the right skills and experience needed.
If your resume is one of the 75% that never gets seen by a human, you're missing out on an opportunity to tell your story and stand out from the competition.
To avoid having your resume lost in the ATS system, make sure to:
Use simple, common words and action verbs
Include a wide variety of skills
Include your most recent experience first
Use a clean, simple format
Check for spelling or grammar errors
Once you have a strong resume targeted to the specific job you are applying for, don't forget to back it up with a well-written cover letter. A well-written cover letter can be just as important as a strong resume, and it may be the first thing a potential employer sees. This doesn't have to be a lengthy document — a few paragraphs highlighting your most relevant skills and experience will do.
Finally, don't forget to proofread your resume and cover letter before submitting them. A simple spelling or grammar error can be enough to disqualify you from consideration for a job, so it's important to ensure everything is correct.
Highlight your skills and industry knowledge
When writing a resume without a degree, it is important to focus on your skills and attitude rather than formal training.
Be sure to focus on your accomplishments, not your job duties. This is your chance to show employers what you are capable of and how your skills match the job description. Try to highlight the skills and experience that make you the best candidate for the job.
Keep your resume updated
While writing a resume without a college degree can seem intimidating, there are many ways to make up for the lack of formal education. By focusing on your work experience, skills, and expertise, you can create a powerful resume that will help you get the job you want.
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I have 30+ years of experience and now having to look for a new job due to COVID. How many years should I be including on my resume, and how do I address those companies that no longer exist due to buyouts or closures?
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