Education as Experience: Resume Advice for the Back-to-School Job Seeker, Part 1

For those job seekers who have returned to school, the secret to creating a uniquely powerful resume is to highlight education in combination with work experience.  Traditionally, people treat education as a single event on their resume — the graduation date or date that they completed a certificate program.  But it is a lost opportunity to exclude other information that will be of interest to a hiring manager.

In this article, I’ll walk you through the practical steps to do just that.  I’ll use, as an example, a lead software engineer – Joseph – who was laid off from his job and decided to return to school to strengthen his project management skills while also obtaining a PM certificate.  In Joseph’s prior position, he had assumed the responsibilities of a project manager without the title so his goal after completing the certificate program is to be formally recognized and employed as a project manager.

First, let’s look at the standard approach to including education in a resume – school name, graduation date, and major or certificate.  If the GPA was particularly impressive, that will be included as well. Boring … but it does document the facts.

Education

University of Washington Extension, Certificate in Project Management (expected graduation June 20XX)

Now, let’s see how we can expand on this format. For those job seekers who used the advice of their school’s career center, they may have included the courses attended that are most relevant to the job search. This is definitely a good start to creating a standout resume.

Education

University of Washington Extension, Certificate in Project Management (expected graduation June 20XX)

Completed courses in project strategy and planning, project estimation, project control and risks, and project leadership and communications.

But don’t stop there – shift the passive message to one that is more active. Think in terms of why you returned to school.  What did you expect to learn that will help to advance your career? For our job seeker, Joseph, he selected a 9 month certificate program that is entirely focused on his area of interest – project management – so we integrated that focus into his resume. Hiring managers like candidates who have a plan and demonstrate ability to follow through on the plan.

Education

University of Washington Extension, Certificate in Project Management, expected completion Jun 2013

Finishing a Certificate in Project Management to strengthen skills in managing complex projects and leading cross-functional teams. Learning to apply best practices in project strategy and planning, project estimation, project control and risks, and project leadership and communications.

In Part 2 of this article, we’ll further review how we can integrate Joseph’s education into the professional experience section of his resume.

Jennifer Hay (22 Posts)

Jennifer Hay is an expert in Resume and LinkedIn Profile writing for IT professionals / executives. Jennifer has earned the CPRW and ACRW certifications and is the world’s first nationwide resume writer for information technology (CRS+IT). Recently, Jennifer has been honored as the 2013 Toast of the Resume Industry (TORI) Judge and Resume/Careers Conference Presenter; 2012 Career Innovation Award from Career Directors International and the 2011 Toast of the Resume Industry (TORI) award in technical category (2nd Pl).


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