Retiring Military Officer Needs Help Portraying Incomplete Degree


This posting is a guest entry from the Career Doctor, Randall S. Hansen, PhD: Linda writes: My husband is retiring from the service. He has made his way up the ladder, from an enlisted personnel to an officer. He is in the engineering field. The problem is most of the minimum requirements for positions he is applying for require a bachelor’s degree. He is approximately 20 credit hours away from this, and still actively in school. What are some suggestions on verbiage for the cover letter and resume to address this?
The Career Doctor responds: First, kudos to your husband, both for the service to our country, but also for working on furthering his education in preparation for work in the civilian sector. Your husband has three things working for him right now. First, many employers are actively seek transitioning military veterans because of the extensive experience and training they receive while in the service. Second, engineering is an occupation back in demand. Third, he is close to completing his degree. Here’s how you address his situation on these key documents. On the resume. The goal of a resume is to secure a job interview. I would start with a summary of qualifications section, outlining his three or four key qualities that make him the perfect candidate for the job he is seeking. One of those bullets should be his college education, the others should focus on his experience. Since he is actively working on his education, I would list education next, and when you list the degree he is receiving, put the date you expect him to be done with it. Then list his experience. I would also have a section on his advancement from enlisted personnel to officer. On the cover letter. Remember the key task of the cover letter is to sell the hiring manager just enough so that he or she will review the resume. You want to start of strongly identifying the key strengths — and ideally tie those directly to what the employer is looking for in a job candidate. In the second paragraph, I would highlight some of the specific accomplishments of the work experience, along with the number of years in the field. In the third paragraph, I would mention the near-completed degree, and the specific date when it’s expected to be completed. Note: some employers will substitute years of experience for an incomplete education. For example, college grad and five years experience, or some college and eight years of experience. Learn more both in the resume resources and the military transition sections of Quintessential Careers.