How to Write an Executive Resume When You Don’t Have a College Degree

EducationJob SearchResume Writing

Do you know what one of the most common concerns I hear from clients?

“I don’t have a degree.”

Executive job seekers come to us to rewrite their resumes and in doing that we need to create their story. For some people, that does not include education. Or, they started it, the job got busy, and they never finished. It’s more common than you might think.

Many top performers we speak with have gone on to very successful careers despite not finishing their college degrees. Most started at companies and grew their way up the corporate ladder to reach high levels of success.

Not just our clients. Many famous people have done very well without a college degree.

Is A College Degree Always Necessary?

Why does an education matter? Obviously, it does for certain fields—medical doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc., but not all require it.

I recently conducted a poll on LinkedIn to see how many people actually used their college degree in their job today.

The poll had 11,845 votes and over 261K views.

30% said they use their degree every day.
34% said they do not use it and are in a different field.
36% said they use it somewhat.

So, only a third of the people who responded use their degree in their jobs every day. Yet, many companies (not all) still insist on a college education. However, in the comments, many recruiters admitted that the companies really didn’t care if they had education or not. The experience of the candidate would help be the deciding factor.

Interesting.

This tells me that while education does matter for certain jobs, most of the time companies are looking for the right fit.

Case Study

One of my clients, “Dave” came to us to write his resume. He started at a small manufacturing company during his senior year in high school. His supervisor saw his drive and started promoting him from stocker, production associate, and production team leader to eventually securing more senior leadership roles like assistant manager and operations manager.

When Dave started at the company it had 13 employees and revenues of around $7MM. When he came to us, he helped grow it to 119 employees and $148MM. The ideas he implemented played a key role in helping this company grow to where it is today. He was ready to use his talents at another company and see where it would take him.

In the first few years he was with the company, he went to community college for two years but stopped after he got his two-year (associate’s) degree. He just didn’t have time for it while working at the company.

I see this happen so often with our clients—starting off young, helping a company grow to new levels, and yet, when it comes time to write their #resumes, they falter a bit, and their confidence dips.

According to Glassdoor dot com, on-the-job training and success matter more than a four-year degree. Corporate training that you’ve received is a skill set needed for a leadership position.

Writing your resume is easier to do when you have a strategy of how to do it and how you want your message to come across.

Here are a few things to consider:

💼 𝙁𝙤𝙘𝙪𝙨 𝙤𝙣 𝙮𝙤𝙪𝙧 𝙫𝙖𝙡𝙪𝙚.

What departments have you built? How many people did you manage? What did you do to help the company grow? How did your contribution get them to the next level?

Also: what kind of a leader are you? What is the feedback you receive from your boss AND your team? How your team looks to you says a lot. Don’t be afraid to gather up testimonials from people who worked for you. If you built out an exceptional team, you could say something like:

“Led efforts to identify, secure, engage, and retain top-tier talent and cultivate a diversified entrepreneurial team to deliver optimal results; managed succession planning, attaining a 2% annual turnover rate across 102 employees.”

This bullet shows how this client built, grew, and led a team ending up with very little turnover. He established a culture within the team that made it a place where people wanted to work– and they thrived.

💼 𝙎𝙝𝙤𝙬 𝙤𝙛𝙛 𝙮𝙤𝙪𝙧 𝙢𝙚𝙩𝙧𝙞𝙭.

When you rose through the ranks, you increased revenue, your sales numbers skyrocketed, etc. Don’t be afraid to use numbers if you have them. Certain roles (like sales) usually end up with percentages or dollars. Don’t worry about how much or how little. Percentages and sales show your effort and growth. Like this:

“Developed a model to optimize short stay options across the residential portfolio to support a $200M regional capital project; negotiated the rental of 30 furnished apartments, expanded the model to 56 units, achieved 100% occupancy for 5 years and subsequently transitioned the units to university housing with a 98% annual occupancy rates.”

This bullet is loaded with numbers, proves his success, and also grabs the eye. Numbers and percentages stand out so add them where you can.

💼 𝙃𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙡𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩 𝙮𝙤𝙪𝙧 𝙗𝙧𝙖𝙣𝙙.

What are you known for? What do people go to you for? What do you specialize in? This is a very common struggle job seekers struggle with, no matter what level they are at. And often, it comes slowly, through time and experience.

For example, when I started writing resumes I was writing every type of resume I could get my hands on, basically to gather experience. But as time went on, I noticed more and more finance and tech clients started finding me. This built my brand as a finance and tech writer.

Having a consistent brand in these fields is what eventually led to landing the Wall Street Journal contract as their resume writing partner. They heard about me and my team and what we specialized in (at that time) and my brand is what got their attention.

Once you have an idea of what you are known for, that is something you want to lead with on your resume. Make sure it stands out and is front and center. Don’t make hiring managers or recruiters look for it, because they won’t.

💼 𝙋𝙧𝙤𝙛𝙚𝙨𝙨𝙞𝙤𝙣𝙖𝙡 𝘿𝙚𝙫𝙚𝙡𝙤𝙥𝙢𝙚𝙣𝙩 𝙘𝙤𝙪𝙣𝙩𝙨!

Are you listing your credentials or professional development? These all count in your skills section. Things like:

– Advanced training courses?
– Certifications?
– Did you write anything that became published in your area? White papers? Blog posts?
– What about presentations? Did you speak on your topic? Offer expertise in a podcast or interview?
– Lastly, any awards? If yes, list them.

There are plenty of ways to distract the reader from your lack of formal education and instead get the reader or hiring manager excited about your accomplishments and what you can bring to the role.

While college degrees are required for certain roles, many companies are simply looking for the best candidate for the job.

Updating Your Resume in 5 Quick Steps

Job SearchResume KeywordsResume WritingResumes

Has this happened to you?

A company you’ve had your eye on for a while suddenly has an opening. You are perfect for it. Not only are you perfect for it but it’s the perfect role for you. More seniority, increase in pay, remote work options, family-oriented, and so on.

You open up your documents and realized you haven’t touched your resume in eight years. Ack!

It can be overwhelming to know where to begin.

Here are a few tips to help you get started.

First, work from your most recent information, gathering what your job titles have been, what you’ve actually done in these roles, and what your career progression has been in those eight years. List your daily responsibilities, and what you were brought in to do.

Next, here are the top five things to quickly address:

𝗜𝗺𝗽𝗮𝗰𝘁. What impact did you have on the company? How did your role impact the bottom-line? What contributions did you make? Were you a decision-maker? Provide examples.

𝗗𝗮𝘁𝗮. Numbers and percentages prove your quantifiable contributions and success. A chart or graph is a great visual and works well if you have strong numbers. Have you helped increase revenue? Expanded the client base? Come up with a solution that cut costs, reduced risk, or played a key role in something? Talk about it and use numbers, when possible.

𝗙𝗼𝗿𝗺𝗮𝘁𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴. While some advanced formatting and graphic formatting is visually appealing, don’t clutter up your resume so much that it turns the reader off. Keep the format clean and consistent. Add bold where needed to differentiate daily responsibilities from accomplishments or to point out a key company name, etc. Finessing your format is so important. Having the right amount of formatting in combination with strong content creates a visually impactful and interesting read.

𝗥𝗲𝗹𝗲𝘃𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲. The no. 1 complaint I hear from recruiters is that the candidates applying for jobs aren’t a fit. Make sure you have the skills necessary for the position. If you don’t, don’t try to squeeze yourself into a role that isn’t meant for you. It only annoys the recruiters, and your resume will get permanently tossed.

𝗕𝗿𝗮𝗴! This is your chance to sell yourself and show what you can do. It’s OK to talk yourself up. You’ve earned it. You are the product, so show off what you’ve done and how what you did is unique and valuable to the next company. This is not the time to be shy or to step down and let someone else take the credit for what you’ve done. Strut your stuff!

Once you’ve got these basics covered, writing the rest of your resume should flow pretty easily for you. As always, let me know if you have any questions. I’m happy to help!

 

Is Your Executive Resume Interesting?

Resume WritingResumes
Is your executive resume interesting?
Is your executive resume interesting?

It happened…the call about the executive job of your dreams opening up just came through via your contact, and the HR Director wants to see your resume.  You might be ready to take the next step in your career, but is your resume ready for an executive-level position? Submitting a bland, non-focused resume with boring content will do nothing but get you taken off of the “call for an interview” list.

 

Moving on from a middle management position to the c-suite is not for the faint of heart, and your resume needs to show that you have the experience, skills, ROI, and drive to do the job, and do it well.  Writing your resume is not just including your career history and where you received your degree, it’s more about creating a document that tells the complete story of who you are, what you have achieved, how you achieved it, and the value you will provide at the next level…in a creative and exciting manner. Below are 5 quick tips that will help you to ensure that your updated resume effectively states “I’m ready for the c-suite and you need to hire me”…

 

Your format matters – People judge books by their covers! Start with an eye-catching format. While you don’t need to put so much color on your resume that it looks like the 4th of July blew up on your piece of paper, a pop of color will appeal to the reader and help your document to stand out right from the get-go. A font style that is clean and business-like is just as important.  Fancy scripts may look pretty, but they are difficult to read and you don’t want people having to work hard to read your text (and believe me, if they have to work hard, they aren’t going to read much past your name).

 

An exciting executive summary is a must – create a strong career summary that communicates what you have done in your career and the value you can provide at the next level. Include position and industry-specific keywords (not buzzwords…there is a difference!) that match your target position.

Highlight your biggest achievements – include a “Career Highlights” section to give a brief synopsis of your biggest accomplishments if you want. Hint: quantifiable achievements speak the loudest and make a stronger impact than just a bullet list of text. Graphs and charts tell a quick story as well!

 

Your career history needs to make a big impact in a small amount of time – if you are at an executive-level, it’s pretty safe to say that you have had quite a few years of employment under your belt.  Focus on your most recent work experience, and don’t go back more than 15 years into your career history (you can summarize the earlier stuff).  A chronological format is the easiest, most clean-cut way to do this.  The exception – if your career goals/new job are unrelated to your current job…then you will want to use more of a function format to show that you DO still have the skills and experience for the job you’re trying to land.

 

Your education information is not as important as your career history – so move it to the end of your resume. Like your career history, degrees received 15+ years ago are probably not going to be as important to the hiring manager as your most recent career experience. Include your degrees and any relevant certifications, but remove the years. The degree is what is important, not when you received it, and announcing “I’m really old…” on your resume is probably not going to win points with the hiring manager. Minimize ageism by eliminating years if they go beyond fifteen. Wow them with your accomplishments and skillset instead.

 

If you are being recommended for that coveted c-suite position, be sure you have a resume that can back-up up the recommendation.  Don’t embarrass yourself (or the friend that recommended you) by submitting a bland resume that does nothing to market you as the ideal candidate for the job.  Instead, take the time to update your resume and maximize your chances of being the candidate whose next phone call is “we’d like to offer you the position”!

 

Why An Objective On A Resume Makes You Look Old

Resume Writing
executive linkedin profile
executive linkedin profile

Get your reader interested in you with an impactful, unique career summary.

The days of your resume starting out with “Objective: Experienced Executive Sales Manager seeking to ….” are long gone!  If you are still using a line like that to open up your executive resume, you may as well realize that your chance of getting selected for an interview is probably long gone as well.  Lose the “Objective” and replace that one-liner with a dynamic career summary that pulls the reader in and shows that you have the experience, skills, and credentials to get the job.

 

A career summary is a brief statement/paragraph at the top of your summary that immediately communicates your qualifications for the job.  In just a few sentences, you need to be able to articulate the value you can offer, what you have that makes you more uniquely qualified than others, and why the hiring manager should call you, and only you, in for the interview.  A few tips to get you on your way…

 

The hook…

  • Clearly define your goals:  think about this- if you were already in the interview, what would be the top 3-4 things you would tell the hiring manager about yourself to show you are the one to hire? Now, put those 3-4 things in writing on your career summary.

The line…

  • Highlight your applicable experience, strengths and skills:  incorporate keywords and keyword phrases that are relevant to the position you’re applying for/industry throughout your summary. If the resume is being screened by an ATS program, using the appropriate keywords will help to ensure that your resume will get selected from the pile. If you have space, you can even share an achievement that shows how you’ve increased sales or revenue, improved productivity, implemented a new program―how you’ve created value for others during your career. You can also include the job title or a little bit about your personal brand in your summary to make an even stronger connection.

Reel em’ in…

  • Build them up and leave them wanting to know more:  you’ve made your point, now conclude your summary with a catchy phrase that shows the impact you have made in your career for your past employers.

 

Here are examples of what we found at the top of two resumes submitted by candidates applying for the same position with an association:

 

  1. Objective: Experienced candidate seeking to work as an executive for a large company where I can grow my skills and expertise in the field.

 

  1. Executive Summary: Entrepreneurial leader accomplished in designing game-changing strategies to propel growth and membership within sales associations. Valued for providing insight, evaluating current practices, identifying market trends, and achieving unprecedented results. Expertise in developing strong and sustainable solutions to maximize partner retention and affinity relations, facilitate expansion, and generate revenue growth. Capable of building strong relationships with business partners and influencing at all levels to generate results.

 

Which candidate would you call in for an interview?

 

There is nothing more satisfying than watching someone progress in their career, and a strategically-written resume is a great place to start. Recruiters and hiring managers want to be sold on you as a candidate in the first few seconds they spend on your resume―you have to be able to show your ROI with high-value information to keep the reader interested in learning more about you.

 

Go a step further and use your summary on your resume as the basis for your summary on your LinkedIn profile.  Nobody wants to see “I am seeking a job as a Sales Executive” in the “About” section on your profile.  You have 2,000 characters to sell yourself in the “About” section.  Include a brief summary, some bulleted achievements, and your most relevant strengths and expertise to show all you offer in just a few quick seconds.  Make it personal and creative―let the reader see who you are, how you operate, and how you can impact their organization if they hire you.

 

So, to answer the question in the title of this article, you need to lose the “Objective” you’re still showing on your resume and replace it with a dynamic career summary that markets you as the best fit for the employer’s needs. When written and presented the right way, a strong career summary statement at the beginning of your resume will not just introduce you to the reader, but more importantly will effectively convey that YOU are the ideal candidate for the job, right from the get-go.

 

 

3 Things to Keep You Busy While You Wait for the Executive Job Interview Call

Job SearchResume Writing
executive resume service

Job searches can be stressful, time-consuming and frustrating, but they don’t have to be. It’s natural to think you’ll get a call for an interview right away when you send in your resume to a company. But even if you worked with the top rated resume writing services, there’s still a chance you won’t get the call as quickly as you had hoped. Instead of dwelling on it and thinking about where you may have gone wrong, use the downtime to your advantage. You never know what may happen, but keep yourself busy by doing these things.

See if Other Companies Match Your Interests

Every executive resume service will tell you to not put all of your eggs into one basket. While you should spend a significant amount of time researching a company before sending in your targeted resume, don’t stop there. Move on to the next company to see if your personality fits with their culture and if you have the skills they are looking for. Most people have a specific list of companies in mind that they want to work for, but may discover other opportunities in the meantime they didn’t expect.

Make A New LinkedIn Connection

You can also use your downtime to update your LinkedIn profile and come up with strategic ways to utilize the platform. Take some time to find executives from other companies of interest and reach out to them. There’s never any harm in introducing yourself and making a new connection. Just don’t go overboard by building your list of connections so large and not knowing half of them. Making connections through your LinkedIn profile can lead to various opportunities later on.

Thank Your Past and Current Mentors

Waiting for a job interview call is a good time to reflect on where you’ve been and look forward to where you want to be. An executive resume service may suggest reaching out to your past and current mentors to simply thank them for how they’ve helped shape your career. They will appreciate the gratitude more than you think, and you never know if they’ll be able to provide you with one last nugget to help you move forward.

Professional Resume Services is more than simply an executive resume service. We work with executives who are at different points in their careers and are pursuing different paths. Some executives we work with don’t have a LinkedIn profile, while others simply need to brush theirs up. No matter where you’re at in your career or what type of career advice you think you need, feel free to contact us at any time to see how we can help.

Executive Resume Targeting is More Important Than You Think

Executive ResumesResume Writing
best executive resume writers

What’s the first thing you think about when you start preparing or updating your resume? A common misconception today is thinking you have to craft your resume to be more general since you don’t know exactly what an employer wants to see. The reality is hiring managers are looking specifically for people who understand their needs and have the skills and knowledge to solve their problems. The key to getting recognized is writing an effective resume geared toward acknowledging those specific needs and demonstrating why you have the skills they are looking for. Targeting your resume is critical today, and here’s why it’s so important.

Targeting Doesn’t Limit Your Job Search

Your first thought when the best executive resume writers tell you to target your resume may be that you’re limiting your job search options. There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all resume. Employers need to see specifically how you can help their current and future situation, so only including relevant information in your resume is critical. When writing an effective resume, your time is much better spent researching a potential employer and targeting the resume accordingly rather than trying to create a general resume to reach a wider audience.

What To Do Before Writing Your Resume

The top resume writing services always suggest thinking hard about exactly what you want to do at your next job. Once you have your goals and desires set, you can search for potential employers that can help you achieve those goals. Take a look at what attributes and skills the company needs and identify where you can help them out the most. When writing your resume, be sure to demonstrate your brand clearly so the hiring manager will know exactly who you are, what you stand for and how you can help the company achieve its goals.

Make Your Resume Stand Out

Hiring managers want to see you’ve done your research on them before sending in a resume. The best executive resume writers can help you with relevant keywords and phrases employers want to see. When you value the idea of working for an employer, the hiring manager will be able to see it and you’ll have a better chance of getting called in for an interview.

Professional Resume Services knows it can be difficult to wrap your mind around targeting a resume. While resume targeting has always been important, employers today take it much more seriously in their efforts to narrow down candidates to find the right fit. We take pride in being one of the top resume writing services and are here to help you with your job searching journey. Feel free to reach out to us at any time for assistance when writing your targeted resume.

What Does an Expert Executive Resume Writer Offer?

Executive ResumesResume Writing
writing an effective resume

Anyone can write a resume with basic components in it. However, since many people have this strategy, you’ll have a hard time standing out among the large pool of applicants for any given job. The keys to writing an effective resume today are different than they were several years ago. So if you haven’t been a part of a job search in a while, it may be worth hiring an executive resume writer to fully optimize your resume. The best resume writing service goes beyond simply writing resumes, though. Here are other attributes you should expect from your expert resume writer.

Attention To All Aspects of A Job Search

There are many more aspects of a job search than simply writing a resume and submitting it to the HR manager. The top executive positions aren’t located on online job boards or in classified ads. They are found through networking and other channels that aren’t easily visible. This means you have to utilize social media wisely, especially LinkedIn, attend networking events, create original expert content, enhance your personal brand and more. The best resume writing service will provide you with tips on all of these points so you’re well-rounded in your job search.

Focus On Personal Branding

Personal branding is critical today. Your presence online is often how you’ll be perceived in reality, so be sure to clean up your online brand. If you aren’t sure what your online brand is, then do a Google search for your name and see what comes up. Your expert executive resume writer can help you slowly change your image by providing you with ideas for original articles and engaging with other professionals. The goal is to have your name tied with positive attributes that make you appear as an expert in your industry.

Tailored Strategies Based on Your Skills And Interests

Coming up with a job search strategy is often the most difficult part job seekers struggle with. The best resume writing service will help you develop effective strategies based on where you want to work, the type of work you want to do and your current and future interests. Generic resumes won’t get you very far in the job searching world today, so tailoring your resume to particular companies will demonstrate how valuable you can be to that specific company.

Professional Resume Services offers valuable insights and expertise into the job searching landscape today. If you’re like many executives, you may not have had to search for a new job in a while. Strategies have changed drastically over the years, and our expert team can quickly catch you up to speed and help you out every step of the way. Be sure to contact us if you’re getting ready to begin your job search, or even if you’re already in the middle of it, and we can help you discover the opportunity you desire.

5 Errors to Avoid on Your Executive Resume

BlogExecutive ResumesJob SearchProfessional ResumesResume Writing

Writing the perfect resume may seem difficult to accomplish with all of the tips and tricks you have heard about. The top resume writing services can point out mistakes on your resume that you may not even believe is an issue. For example, we’ve all heard about the value of using bullet points in a resume, but did you know using too many bullet points is a sign of desperation in the eyes of an employer? Identifying mistakes like this can be tough, so here are five of the biggest errors the top resume writing services can help you discover and prevent.

Not Including Your LinkedIn Profile

Nowadays employers are going to look for social proof rather than simply relying on your resume to tell them what they need to know. Not including your LinkedIn profile link at the top or bottom of your resume may indicate you’re hiding something or you don’t want them to search for you online. Employers will try to find your LinkedIn profile anyway, so make it easier on them by providing the link.

Too Many Bullet Points

While it’s tempting to list out every achievement, skill and accomplishment you’ve earned over the years, try not to put them in the form of too many bullet points. Having more than about five bullet points may indicate you’re trying too hard to appear qualified for the job. It’s best to narrow down your most relevant attributes to the job you’re applying for and only include those.

Not Enough White Space

You never want your resume to be more than two pages, but you also shouldn’t stuff as much text as possible into those two pages. The best executive resume format will leave a good amount of white space around the perimeter of the document and between each section of the resume. This makes the entire document look cleaner and it’s much easier for the hiring manager to read.

Listing Political Affiliations

You may feel strongly about your political affiliation, but your resume is not the place to list it. One of the only times the top resume writing services will recommend listing your political affiliation is if it’s relevant to the job you’re applying for. Otherwise, it’s generally a big risk to include it.

Inconsistencies or Typographical Errors

Proofreading your resume thoroughly for typographical errors or inconsistencies is essential. Don’t rely on spell check offered by your software program, since it doesn’t always catch everything. Once you believe you have everything in order, allow a friend or a resume expert to proofread and critique it as well so you don’t miss anything.

Professional Resume Services can easily identify potential errors in a resume that aren’t necessarily evident to the average person. We know what hiring managers and recruiters are looking for and what the major pitfalls of any given resume are. If you’re unsure about any aspect of your resume, feel free to reach out to us at any time for helpful tips and hints to consider.