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Ways to Boost Your Resume Without a College Degree

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When looking for a job, one of the most important things you will need is a resume that highlights your experience, qualifications, and education. But what if you don't have a college degree? Follow these tips for other ways you can boost your resume and still stand out from the crowd!

Emphasize the Skills You Have

It's true that a college degree is necessary to get certain jobs; but not all jobs require higher education. The Georgetown Public Policy Institute reported that by 2020, 35% of job openings will require at least a bachelor's degree, while 36% of job openings will not require any higher education behind high school.

Many jobs place more emphasis on the skills you have and the skills you can bring to the position over a college degree. So, instead of trying to hide the fact that you don't have a degree to list on your resume, you should focus on the skills you excel in. What can you bring to the table that other applicants can't?

Provide detailed information about your work experience, knowledge, and accomplishments that are relevant to the position. Then, place this information at the top of your resume before your education section. By showcasing your skills first, you're showing hiring managers that you have valuable expertise that will make you successful in the role. They'll be so impressed with the skills you offer that they might overlook your lack of degree.

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List All Professional Development

Even if you don't have a degree, you probably have a ton of professional development you can list on your resume. What qualifies as professional development? Anything that involves continued learning, specialization, or training. Think about everything you have done to be better at your job and add it to your resume. This may include:

  • In-person or online courses
  • Certificates and licenses
  • In-service or other types of training
  • Conferences
  • Seminars or webinars
  • Self-study through sites like Study.com, Lynda, or one of the many free courses available

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On top of that, if you are currently enrolled in a course or program, list that as well. Even if you're still in-progress, having it on your resume will show hiring managers that you're committed to your continuing education and professional development.

Include Community Service, Hobbies, and Interests

Some might say having a section on your resume devoted to your community service, hobbies, or interests is unnecessary, but including this information can give hiring managers a more complete picture of who you are.

Community service and volunteer experience not only shows that you're an upstanding citizen, but it can also show that you have significant connections and networks, which could be of some value to employers.

Your hobbies and interests should only be included if they're relevant to the position you're applying for, however. For example, if you create apps in your free time and you're applying for a developer or programming job, this is a relevant hobby, so put it on your resume. Just remember to be specific and be prepared to discuss it if you get an interview.

Network

You've boosted your resume, but now you need to have your resume seen. Networking is one of the most important things you can do when applying for a job, but if you don't have a degree, it can be especially crucial to get yourself noticed. Hiring managers are more likely to pay attention to you if you're on their radar. This can come in the form of a referral or recommendation from a contact or even by reaching out to them personally.

people networking

So how can you build your network? First, think about the people you already know. Could you contact a former teacher, trainer, classmate, or employer who might be able to make a connection? How about your neighbors or members of a group or club you've joined? If you have kids, what about other parents?

After you've focused on people you already know, then think about expanding your network to include new people. Join a professional organization. Attend an event related to the field in which you're interested. Go to a job fair or conference. Connect with people on LinkedIn. By building connections, you're also building opportunities for finding and landing the job you want.

Job-hunting without a college degree doesn't have to be difficult if you boost your resume with these helpful tips. If, however, you keep getting passed over for jobs, consider going back to school to earn your degree. It's never too late, and if it means you'll score the job you want, it'll be worth the effort!

By Melissa Kreindel
December 2017
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