Most people know the basics of resume writing, but we tend to get tripped up when we sit down and actually start to apply our own experience. Why? Because life isn’t always as clean as a crisp new resume. It comes with ups and downs, and there may be a few things that need explaining.
If you’re struggling with the education section, it’s probably because your education history is unique. In this post, we’re going to review some common hurdles to writing the education section of your resume.
You don’t have an advanced degree
These days, it seems like everyone has a Master’s Degree or higher — even when the job only requires a high school diploma. But the truth is that not every employer is looking for an advanced degree. In some cases, having an advanced degree would make you overqualified for the job.
And if you’re reaching for a job that’s out of your scope of education, it’s important to address your qualifications in the cover letter. Be upfront about your education and explain why you’re still the best choice.
You’re still in college
If you’re still in college, the education section is pretty straightforward. You can add any credits you’ve taken towards a degree. If you’ve completed the credits, they’re yours to add. But if you have a lot of credits, you don’t have to list them one-by-one. You can simply add a line that states, “Completed ‘x’ credits towards ‘ABC’ degree.” This will let the employer know how close you are to obtaining said degree. And if you’re still in school, your dates of attendance will reflect that. Example: September 2019 to present.
You have mostly life experience
You can add any life experience that you think will help you qualify for the position, but this typically goes align with your work experience. If you have life experience that doesn’t qualify as work experience, you may add it to your education section. This includes any awards, certifications, or honors that you’ve received.
If your education experience is lacking, be sure to fill out your resume with any relevant life experience, like important roles you’ve held volunteering or in extracurricular activities. Just be sure the experience is recent. An employer may not care about your leadership role on the high school wrestling team if you’re in your forties.
Understand that this is your chance to highlight the reasons why education is less important on your resume. These are the reasons an employer may consider you despite a lack of formal education. Remember, you can be qualified for a job based on life experience. It’s just a harder sell because it’s out of the norm.
Your education is diverse
If you’ve changed majors more than once on your educational journey, the education section may seem intimidating. Include anything you think relevant and highlight the experience that’s most aligned with your employment goals.
There are gaps in your education history
Gaps in your education history may be a source of insecurity, but they aren’t quite as difficult to explain as employment gaps. As long as you were employed during the education gap, there’s no need to explain. More than anything, employers will appreciate that you’ve made a commitment to return to education after a lapse. Not everyone does.
The education section on your resume may seem intimidating, especially if you have a unique education experience. But this doesn’t have to hold you back from getting a job. The number one rule in resume writing is to highlight your best qualifications. As long as you can effectively do that, your resume will stand out for all the right reasons.