OVERCOMING LIABILITIES: Executive Resume Writing Tips – How to Handle Lack of Degree

Many clients I work with, including c-level executives, have not received their college degree for one reason or another. Most job postings will state this as a requirement, which is daunting for individuals who have accomplished much in their career but do not have a college education or an advanced degree.

Fortunately in most of these cases, these individuals went on to continue to be amazing producers of results in their careers and were recruited into exceptional positions with fantastic companies despite their lack of degree.

How did they do it? My friend and mentor, the late Mark Hovind, President of JobBait, used to put it this way:

“I turn lead into gold but only have a fifth grade education…
want to hire me?”

If you produce results or, more aptly, if you “turn lead into gold” and make or save a company money, you are worth hiring – Ivy League college degree or not! Your resume and cover letter must speak to the results you bring to the company in quantifiable %% and $$ whenever possible.

Here are some tips:

  • If you have determined it will truly be beneficial to landing the position you want, enroll in something NOW. Then use your current experience as your “degree” by stating your enrollment on your resume like this:Candidate: degree or certification, school, estimated graduation or completion date.
  • Make your resume is extra strong by using marketing techniques that sell you, such as:
    • Testimonials from clients, past bosses, employees, vendors, and/or committee members.
    • Quantifying your achievements; focus on the results you bring in $$ and %%.
    • If you have certifications, have taken college level coursework, seminars or other training programs, you can list this as advanced training or value-added industry related training.

Bonus Tip: Prepare to answer the question of why you didn’t complete your college education or advanced degree in your interview. Keep your answer short and sweet!

Mary Elizabeth Bradford is the Founder and Executive Director of CEOresumewriter.com and Maryelizabethbradford.com and a past executive recruiter. A thought leader in the career services industry for over 20 years, she holds 5 distinct advanced certifications for senior-level resume writing, online branding and executive-level job search coaching (CERM, CMRW, CARW, MCD, NCOPE). She has been seen and heard in major media including Forbes, Time, WSJ, Newsweek and NBC affiliate stations. She holds 2 CDI TORI awards and is a top tier judge for the elite CDI TORI awards for four consecutive years. Mary Elizabeth Bradford’s elite team of award-winning, certified, top executive resume writers, former top executive recruiters, and global HR executives help many of the world’s premier C-suite, board members and thought leaders secure the transitions and compensation packages they want. She works with clients all over the globe.

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