4 Ways to Leverage Your Education
You've just spent the past two, four, or six years devoting yourself to your course of study, and you now have a piece of paper in hand that can demonstrate your value to potential employers. But in our modern world, this magical equation doesn't always fall into place on its own; just having a degree listed on your resume won't automatically make employers dance to your tune. Sometimes you'll need to work hard to draw a clear line between your long hours of study and the tangible ways those hours will pay off for the company that brings you onboard. You worked hard for your degree…Now it's time for that degree or diploma to start working hard for you. Here are four ways to shine a bright spotlight on your educational credentials.
1. Place this information at the top of your resume.
List your educational credentials at the top of your document, just under your name, contact information, and resume summary. Studies show that the items appearing above the center of the page and closest to the left margin will get the most attention from employers and reviewers, so take advantage of this prime positioning. Since location is everything, give your education the most valuable and real estate on the page.
2. Emphasize your course content.
If you attended an Ivy League school, you'll want to showcase this fact and leverage the power of your alma mater's brand. If you completed your studies though a for-profit or online school, the name of your school may stand in your way, so downplay this detail. But most colleges and universities fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, and if you attended one of these, make the most of your course program, not your institution. Employers will want to know that you spent class time learning something that relates directly to their organization and their needs.
3. Get ready to discuss parallels and overlaps.
During your interview, you may be asked a very common question that sounds like this: "I see you studied something seemingly unrelated to this position. Are you sure you have the knowledge base to succeed here?" or "I see you have a degree in meteorology/child development/finance/physics…But this job deals with marketing and product development. What have you learned that bears relevance?" To answer this question, you'll need to think critically and dig deep into you knowledge and experience to draw relevant parallels. Of course you can do this, or you wouldn't have decided to pursue this job in the first place. But explaining your motivation may take some thought and preparation.
4. Emphasize your special accomplishments.
Yes, you have a four-year degree in a relatively common area of study (like engineering, biology, or English). But as it happens, almost every other candidate in the pool will also be able to make this claim. So what makes you stand out? Use your resume and your interview to discuss your flawless grade point average, the awards you've won, the team projects you led, the community service initiatives you launched, and the subjects in which you minored or specialized.
For more on how to lead the conversation with a discussion of your proud academic accomplishments, explore the resources at MyPerfectResume.