But while a customized résumé can be desirable in theory, it can be challenging from a practical viewpoint. After all, the process of resume revamping can be arduous and time-consuming. It can also be difficult to come up with the right list of keywords that will make an employer take special notice of your resume.
Perhaps the greatest challenge, however, occurs when you lack the credentials that an employer is looking for. While you evidently don’t want to lie, indicating that you possess credentials that you actually lack, you don’t want to call attention to your lack of experience or lack of educational activity, either. Therefore, you’re faced with a difficult dilemma: How do you market yourself effectively on your resumé when, at first glimpse, you may not be the obvious candidate for the job?
When You Don’t Have the Right Degree.
It is actually not an uncommon problem for a job applicant to lack the desired degree for a given position. For instance, there are a number of mid-level managers who are highly effective at their jobs, who have years of real-world experience, but who never received Master’s Degrees in Business Administration. Perhaps they simply did not have time to pursue an advanced degree because of their work schedules, or because family concerns prevented them from furthering their education.
Although the bachelor’s degree has become standard in the workplace, not every employee—even highly consecrated, motivated employees—has one. Granted, in a number of situations, the lack of a BA can be a major obstruction, since many jobs require specific knowledge or critical thinking skills that are most effectively developed in college. However, in an area like sales, a college degree can be less of a handicap. This is because many managers are more interested in an applicant’s sales record rather than his or her business degree. In fact, corporate recruiters say that, the longer you’ve been in a given profession, the less important your degree becomes. What really matters is your professional accomplishments.
Also, if you are currently taking college courses in the hopes of completing a degree program, be sure to place the phrase “degree in progress” in the educational section of the cover letter. This shows that you are committed to furthering your education. A manager may also be impressed by your desire to obtain a degree and may actually help you to achieve that goal if you secure the position.
If You Lack Sufficient Experience.
You may be attracted to a position that would be highly challenging and professionally satisfying—yet you may not have the years of relevant experience recommended in the want ad. This is an all too-common problem in today’s workplace. While there is, in fact, no substitute for experience, it is possible to thrive in a job that you’ve had less-than-perfect preparation for.
Another effective technique is by showing an employer how experience in an unrelated job has uniquely prepared you for the job at hand. For instance, take the case of an enterprising job applicant who wanted to become a chapter development director for a non-profit organization with chapters of volunteers throughout the state. The applicant was a long-time veteran of the business world, but she had never worked in chapter development. Yet, she managed to secure the desired position because she had a well-crafted resume that mentioned her highly developed organizational skills, her power to network well with other people, and the entrepreneurial experience she gained when she ran her own home-based business.
Think of Your resume as a Sales Tool.
Finally, it is important for you to keep in mind that your résumécan serve as an effective sales tool—the most important tool you have in marketing your candidacy to an employer. Do not underestimate your skills or your achievements—present them in the best possible light. An employer should be drawn to your résumébecause it is professional looking, succinct, and effective in communicating the message that you would be an impressive candidate for a given position. In other words, it is important that you do not under-sell yourself, simply because you lack one or more of the credentials listed in a position description. Think creatively and try to find ways to showcase skills that might be applicable to the position. If you produce the most appealing resume you can, the chances that you will get the job you want will increase significantly.