Resume Dilemma: No Degree

Community College of the Air Force diplomas lay on a table at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany.
College diplomas. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Are your fellow job seekers leaving you in the dust, nabbing the great jobs because they have educational credentials that you lack? Follow these tips to put your best foot forward on your resume and compete with others who have more impressive educational backgrounds.

Related: Does your resume pass the 6-second test? Get a FREE assessment.

Emphasize Your Strongest Credentials

Think about why an employer should hire you out of all the applicants for the job. What do you offer that they don't? Perhaps you have practical work experience and skills that are relevant to the job. If your experience is stronger than your education, place your work history before education on your resume, and write about your career achievements, track record of results and industry knowledge.

Include a detailed listing of your accomplishments throughout your career. Prove that your work performance has been outstanding, and you would be an asset to your future employer's operation. By the time hiring managers read the Education section, they should be so impressed by the value you offer that educational shortcomings could be overlooked.

It's true that some employers will not be interested in you because you lack the job opening's educational requirement, but you will find other employers that welcome your experience, skills and expertise.

Related: To apply for jobs that match your skills, visit the Military Skills Translator.

Highlight Alternative Education and Training

Maybe you lack a formal degree, but you've participated in ongoing training throughout your career. You can emphasize all of your continuing education by creating a Professional Development section within the Education section. Think about job-related training, certifications, conferences, in-service training, seminars, online learning and even self-directed study. For some professionals, this section can be quite impressive, and showing recent, up-to-date training can be more valuable than a dated degree.

Show In-Progress Education

Include partially completed or in-progress education.


  • If you are currently enrolled in a program:
    ABC COLLEGE (City, ST)
    Enrolled in bachelor of arts program, major in < >, degree expected 5/06
  • If you partially completed a program and don't intend to complete:
    DEF COLLEGE (City, ST)
    Earned XX credits toward a bachelor of arts degree, 9/99 to 5/02

Apply Even if You Lack the Educational Credential

If you see a job opening that requires a certain level of education and feel you can do the job based on your experience or skills, send your resume anyway. The hiring manager might prefer to hire someone with the stated level of education, but your resume could stand out because of your other qualifications.

Whenever possible, follow up on resumes that you submit. Many employers using electronic resume-tracking systems automatically screen out applicants who don't meet the educational requirements. You will have a much better chance of convincing an employer that you are a strong candidate if you make a personal connection with a hiring manager.

Return to School

If you continue to hit roadblocks because of your educational background, it might be time to hit the books again. Do whatever it takes to reach your goal: Enroll in night classes, take online courses or start a distance-learning program. The fact that you are pursuing further education could make you more marketable to employers, plus you will be taking steps to ensure you have the credentials to succeed in a competitive job market.

Related: For the latest veteran jobs postings around the country, visit the Job Search section.

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