With the rising costs of college, many articles have been published lately encouraging young people to curtail or skip college and enter professions that do not require a 4-year degree, such as plumbing, bookkeeping, retail, medical assistant, LPN, and website developer.
In careers that do require a degree, the good news is that the experience you gain over the years makes your degree (including the college you attended, your GPA, and your area of specialization) less and less important. People with liberal arts degrees end up in technical fields; people with technical degrees end up in sales or marketing: success over the long term is more important than what you studied and where.
When it comes to your resume, therefore, the lack of a degree or possession of an irrelevant degree is not automatically a reason to worry. A lot depends on what type of job you are aiming for and where you are in your career.
With the possible exception of resumes for recent college graduates, your resume should always discuss work history before education. Even recent college graduates should put their work history first if it is relevant to the positions they are applying for—in this case, work history includes internships, practicums, and volunteer work.
If you do not have a college degree, you should include any coursework you have taken towards a degree in the field, any professional workshops or courses you have attended (such as Lean, bookkeeping, or leadership courses), and any licenses or certifications you have earned (such as financial, computer, construction, or medical). Even college studies that have not led to a degree are important. Do not be afraid if you did not get a good grade. Even passing a course counts.
However, you should avoid degree mills–schools that are not accredited, have a very low job placement rate, and award degrees after little or no study. Degree mills abound in the United States. If you get a degree from an unaccredited school, and use that degree to get a job, depending on the state, you may be committing a crime. In New Jersey, this is a felony. If you get caught using a degree from an unaccredited degree mill or claiming a degree you do not have, you likely will lose your job and possibly your reputation, making it difficult to get another job.
Professional development is always important, and even a partial degree shows potential. The same advice holds for a degree that is not relevant to the job you want: highlight any part of your education and professional development that is relevant
If you do not have a college degree and do not have a work history, your most important step is to bring your resume directly into the hands of the decision makers—the hiring manager or owner of a business—so that you have an opportunity to sell yourself. You will need to network for a job in many cases. No matter how short it is, make sure your resume highlights your high school diploma or GED and any volunteer or extracurricular activities, and make sure it is completely free of errors.
For help in writing a resume that shows off your true value, contact Robin’s Resumes® today.