Conquent: Without Limits
Conquent: Without Limits
Kristen Fife's Blog

Resume - Education vs. Professional Development

2010-10-06 22:14:36

I see a lot of resumes, both solicited and passive. One thing that is a pretty standard misconception is the difference between "education" and "professional development", and what should (or should not) be on your resume.

While it can be argued that "professional development" *is* a form of education, when it comes to your resume your "education" section should be reserved for your formal matriculated education. That is classes, degrees or diplomas from accredited institutions (High School and college/university.)

Some notes on your formal education and how to best portray it on your resume. This is especially germaine to college students, but is applicable to anyone.

GPA: if your GPA is less than a 3.5, don't put it on your resume *unless a job application asks for it.* I saw a resume from someone that has been in the workforce more than three years earlier this week, and he listed his GPA as 3.001. That is not impressive and actually detracts from his work experience, which should speak for itself. One of my resume clients has her 4.0 GPA on her resume even though she has been in the work world a good 15 years. A high GPA ( and/or "Summa Cum Laude" or "Magna Cum Laude") is a value add, but not necessary.

Unfinished degrees: If you have a BA and are working on an MBA (or PhD), it's fine to include your MBA *with an expected graduation date*, which should not be more than 1-2 years out. I don't advise putting a never-ending degree on your resume. If you started your BA in 1999 and still haven't completed it, the message that sends to me is that you have no intention of finishing it, and (fair or not) I wonder what else you may not complete. Most degrees can be finished in 5 years part-time these days. If a job requires a Bachelor's, and you don't have it, telling me you are "most of the way there" isn't going to change the fact that a full degree is still required. And it's the *hiring* manager that determines the educational degree, not the recruiter. "Required" means just that: if you don't have it, you aren't qualified. Period. This is when "or equivalent experience" can come into play. A general rule of thumb is that if you don't have the required degree, you need to have at least five years of relevant (as in same type of job, same field), RECENT experience to replace the educational degree.

Classwork listed on your resume.
OK, this seems to confuse people. This is *only* relevant for new grads. Classwork that is related to a job you are applying for can be an indicator for a recruiter or hiring manager that you have some additional skill or knowledge that isn't necessarily indicated via your degree. For example, let's say you got a degree in English and a minor in Human Resources and are applying for an administrative assistant job at a temporary agency. Listing out specific HR classes/projects you may have taken could give you an edge.

There is no reason to ever list indivdual high school classes on your resume. If you took some sort of vocational program, list the program, not the classes.

Let's move on to Professional Development and what is applicable for your resume. As a rule of thumb, if you receive specialized training on tools to help you do your job, and now you are using that tool fairly regularly, the coursework *doesn't need to be on your resume.* Work experience will always trump workshops. For example, if you took an introduction to Quickbooks five years ago, and you are now using Quickbooks for your company's general ledger, the class is irrelevant.

Professional development that teaches you general soft skills shouldn't be on your resume (such as "Effective Communication for Managers" or "Ten Habits of Highly Effective People" or "Time Management For Professionals") . While they may help you become a better person or professional, they aren't relevant to what a hiring manager is looking for.

Any training that helps you understand legal or compliance-based knowledge in your industry is applicable for your resume. For example, in recruiting there have been major changes in our industry from a compliance standpoint that had a definite implementation date, and before I started working with those changes on a regular basis, my resume had "OFCCP training" on it. Now "OFCCP" is part of my summary of qualifications along with my knowledge of international visa processing because I use it on a daily basis. If you are in a credentialed profession that requires you to take ongoing classes, such as law or dentristry, you don't need to continually mention those classes as they are intrinsically linked to your licensure.

Likewise, if you are pursuing some sort of a certification, the classes aren't relevant. For example, if you are going after your PMP or PHR, just tell me that your certification is "in process" or expected to be awarded in December of 2010. (And if you are just studying for the exam and haven't scheduled it, *it doesn't count on your resume*.)

Conversely, if you took a compliance class for a job you held eight years ago and you no longer use, take it off your resume. I continually stress *targeted content* on your resume. That means targeted to what is relevant NOW. If you don't use it, take it off. Don't confuse your reader.

When all is said and done, it is your work history that is what a recruiter and hiring manager are looking at. Keep the focus of the content of your resume tight and relevant, painting a detailed picture of who you are now.

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kelly: Re: Resume - Education vs. Professional Development
2013-07-19 19:29:23

Great blog. Thank you!

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