No Relevant Education on Your Resume? Here’s How to Overcome This Obstacle

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If you’re looking for a job but find that you don’t meet the education criteria, you might feel as if all hope is lost. Don’t worry! Your skills and experience may be even more important than your education—after all, a candidate’s educational background is used mostly to surmise their skills and suitability for a job. Don’t pass over an opportunity just because you don’t have the right education!

Hiring managers generally pay more attention to skills and work experience than educational background. This is particularly true at innovative tech startups, which are often happy to hire entirely self-taught techies if their skills and knowledge are up to snuff. However, only one-third of hiring managers believe the skills listed on resumes. Therefore, it’s important to include believable skills and showcase your true experience since you can’t expect recruiters to take you at your word. 

You can still apply for a job if you don’t have the required educational background, but you need to put a little more effort into creating a resume that properly highlights your experience and qualifications. A skilled, ambitious, self-driven autodidact without the required formal education is hardly a drawback for most modern companies. 

If you can answer the questions that follow, you’re on the right track to crafting a successful resume! Need someone to guide you through this process? Consult our resume experts

What are the most common mistakes in a resume?

Even if you have all the right qualifications, there are three major mistakes that could keep the hiring manager from reading your resume. One is an unprofessional email address—if you don’t have it, create it. Use some form of your name, adding your middle name or job title if necessary. It’s not just the address that’s important—the domain also matters. Hotmail rarely looks professional. Your best bet is to stick with Gmail or your own domain. 

Another common mistake is a lack of quantifiable results. In essence, how can your experience benefit the employer? Back up your assertions with accomplishments featuring hard numbers, which make your skills much more credible.

The number one resume mistake is leaving typos and grammatical errors. Keeping your resume free from such mistakes is just as important as listing your qualifications since an error-riddled document makes you look unprofessional, lazy, careless, and incompetent. To avoid having your resume tossed aside, make sure it’s linguistically pristine.

Are you professional?

All employers look for professionalism., starting with your personal information. If your email address doesn’t look professional, they may cast you to the side. Also, your professional summary at the beginning must be persuasive; it shapes the recruiter’s first impression of you, so think about the most important things you want them to know. In your professional summary, state the experience and skills that qualify you for the job, using keywords from the job description—this is crucial for getting past the computer systems that screen job applications and send only relevant ones to a human recruiter.

Is your experience believable?

Employers look for quantifiable results! Your work experience can land you the job by proving your value to the company. Provide specific details about jobs similar to the one you’re applying for, including experience completing long-term projects, helping a struggling department, or supervising a team. List anything that makes you look good and is true, but don’t stop at listing—use language that demonstrates your knowledge of the industry and insert any quantifiable numbers. 

What is the hiring manager looking for that you can provide? Even without the right education, ample experience in the industry can designate you as a valuable hire. If you describe your experience and skills well enough, your educational background won’t even matter. Highlight your experience in a way that shows you deserve the job!

Are you credible?

Your credentials can validate everything you’ve said about yourself. If you don’t know what to include, here are some ideas to help you get started.

Any published works that affirm your achievements should be used as a credential. Since this is a third-party verification of your competencies, it’s far more believable than your own statements.

Another thing to consider is public speaking opportunities, including presentations you’ve given that pertain to the job you’re applying for. After all, every employer values strong communication skills.

Finally, think about awards you’ve received. Whether it was for a salaried position or volunteer work, mention any recognition you’ve received for your outstanding contributions. If you have a lot of achievements under your belt, list the ones most relevant to the job you’re pursuing.

Is your resume format appropriate?

There are various ways to format a resume, but using a hybrid format allows you to present your work experience in reverse chronological order while emphasizing your skills and qualifications, displaying your strengths prominently at the very beginning. 

Even if education is your weak point, you’ll still need to include it. The employer has to decide whether you meet their requirements, but if they see your strengths (experience and skills) before your weakness (education), they might overlook that small detail. If they’re already impressed with your skills section, they won’t put much (or any) store in your education. On the other hand, if they read the education section first, bias is likely to creep in and taint their impression of your skills.

Formatting your resume means laying out your qualifications in a way that draws the hiring manager to your strengths first. Don’t forget to check for any typos or linguistic errors (grammar, spelling, and punctuation)! Before submitting your resume, always proofread it. Even if you have great confidence in your language skills, consider hiring a professional proofreader to look over the document and check it for any errors. No matter how impressive your other skills are, a careless typo could cost you the job.

Is your education section upbeat?

Never make it sound as though you’re done with learning! Even if you dropped out of college, focus on showing what you learned during your time there.

You may not hold any college degrees, but you may have completed some job-related training courses. List them—they show your desire to learn even outside the classroom. These could include certification courses, seminars, conferences, and more. Job-specific training could be even more relevant than knowledge-based training. If you’re entirely self-taught, explaining that can work in your favor. After all, it takes immense discipline and drive to teach yourself anything to a proficient level.

If you’re in the process of completing a degree, communicate that by stating what college you’re attending, the program you’re enrolled in, and the date you expect to graduate.

If you’ve had to postpone or cancel your formal education, show what you have achieved by stating what college you attended, how many credits you earned, and when you attended. You can explain why you left in your cover letter, which may help cushion the negative impact.

After listing all formal education, add any training (as mentioned above) you’ve completed.

Don’t be discouraged when some employers look at your educational background and make their decision based on it. You don’t want to work for such narrow-minded and rigid companies anyway. There will be employers that focus on your skills and experience, and those are the ones that will truly appreciate having you in their ranks. Education alone doesn’t equal value! If you need help formatting your resume to highlight your strengths, reach out to our resume experts.

Improve Your Resume or CV