How to Build a Strong Resumé When You Lack Experience or Education

strong resumé

Think you don’t have enough education or work experience to land a telecommute job? Think again. Many telecommute-friendly companies post entry-level positions that require little or no educational background or experience. All you need to do is create a strong resumé that showcases your best attributes.

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How to Build a Strong Resumé When You Lack Experience or Education

Although education and work experience are highly valued by employers, they aren’t always necessary to launch a career. Whether you have a high school diploma, doctoral degree, 25 years of work experience, or absolutely no work history, there are telecommute options to get you started. This article explains how to create a strong resumé when you lack education, work experience, or both.

When You Lack Education but Have Work Experience

Though many occupations require a post-secondary degree from an accredited institution, employers may overlook educational requirements for a strong work history. If you lack formal education but have related work experience, then your goal is to highlight your accomplishments and skills gained through employment.

1. Focus on Accomplishments

Focus on how you helped a company or team advance, decrease costs, increase productivity, expedite delivery, or resolve problems. If you have numerical data to back up your statements, include percentages and other statistics in your bullet points.

2. Include Formal Training or Certifications

Be sure to list any professional training, certifications, and workshops you completed. You might even include a “Professional Development” or “Professional Training” section in your resumé to replace the standard “Education” section. Keep the heading simple and outline any credentials and related information consistently.

Keep in mind that applicant tracking system (ATS) programs search for specific information under the “Education” section of most resumés. Therefore, if you include training and certifications in an “Education” section, an ATS may not recognize the type of information provided or render the information correctly.

3. Decide to Include or Omit Education Details

Many telecommute jobs in the Virtual Vocations database require no more than a high school diploma or GED. Therefore, if you have a high school diploma or GED, and education isn’t the most important aspect in the job post, you might be able to omit and “Education” section and save more space for work and skill details. You can always mention your alma mater in your cover letter or email. Plus, some online applications have drop-down menus or fields asking you to specify your educational background.

If you took some college courses in the past, you might want to include the number of credit hours you accomplished, the college or program you attended, and your most recent GPA.

If you’re currently enrolled in a college degree program, you should include an “Education” section with the degree you are pursuing, the name of the college, your current GPA, and your expected graduation date.

Depending on your occupation and industry, education may matter less the older you get and more work experience you obtain. Therefore, if you are an “older” worker with or without a high school diploma, GED, or college credits, your on-the-job training and industry knowledge may be enough to prove your proficiency.

Related: 11 Work-at-Home Jobs for Moms with High School Diplomas or GEDs

Telecommute Jobs Without an Education Requirement

Examples of telecommute occupations that typically don’t have an education requirement include:

  • Customer Service Representative
  • Technical Support
  • Sales Associate
  • Data Entry Specialist

Examples of telecommute positions that may not rely on your educational background so long as you can prove success and expertise in your field:

  • Manager
  • Virtual Assistant
  • Information Security Analyst
  • Web Developer

When searching for jobs in the Virtual Vocations database, use the filters “Education Level” and “Career Level” to help narrow your results. You can also enter “high school diploma” in the search bar to find positions that do not require a college education.

Success Tip for Telecommuters Without Formal Education

As of 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that:

  • High school graduates earned $180 more per week than non-high school graduates.
  • Workers with at least some college or an associate degree earned $93 more per week than high school graduates and $273 more per week than non-high school graduates.
  • College graduates earned $525 more per week than high school graduates and $705 more per week than non-high school graduates.

It’s clear that education pays off in the long run. Therefore, consider investing in yourself now by earning a certification, degree, or a professional credential to boost your resumé and your future paychecks.

Related: Top Tips for Writing Resumés That Will Pass ATS Software

When You Have Education and Little or No Work Experience

A strong educational background is an asset, but without work experience, it’s hard to prove you can handle the real world. However, companies love hiring fresh talent with hopes that entry-level employees will stay a while and help drive future innovation. So, if you have at least an associate degree, but lack industry experience, your goal is to highlight your knowledge, related skills, and most recent projects or accomplishments.

1. Include Classroom Projects

College is the perfect time to practice planning, researching, presenting information, and working with teams. Don’t discount your role, effort, or lessons learned during this critical time. Be sure to include any major school projects or independent research on your resumé as related experience.

For example, if you completed a capstone project during your final year, you likely worked with other classmates, multiple faculty members, industry experts, and other professionals or organizations. Concisely describe your project objectives, methods, and outcomes, as well as the technical and soft skills you learned along the way.

2. Include Extracurricular Activities, Volunteer Work, and Independent Projects

You can beef up your resumé by including any experience where you were part of a team, helped solve a problem, or entered a competition. For example, if you were part of a debate team, environmental awareness group, or culture club, describe your experience, role, actions, and successful outcomes.

Recruiters want to see evidence of team collaboration, leadership, effective communication, goal-setting, planning, and other general skills. Therefore, extract job-related information from any of your endeavors and showcase them as professional experience.

3. Map Your Skills to the Job Post

Even when you include your class projects and volunteer experience on your resumé, recruiters need to see that you meet the job requirements. Thus, you need to map the details of your resumé directly to the job post using keywords.

To choose the best and most appropriate keywords, read the job post carefully. If the post contains a “Qualifications” section, look for terms like “leadership,” “written communication,” “analysis,” and “presentation.” If you have such qualifications, include those same keywords in your bullets points.

However, avoid “keyword stuffing,” in which you overuse keywords and make your resumé unreadable or ridiculous. Instead, use keywords naturally and spread them throughout the entire document. Also, be honest when using keywords. For example, if you don’t know HTML and CSS, don’t include those keywords on your resumé.

Telecommute Jobs Without a Work Experience Requirement

Examples of entry-level telecommute jobs for individuals with a bachelor’s degree include:

  • Human Resource Generalist
  • Software Engineer
  • Business Analyst

View All Telecommute Jobs that Require a Bachelor’s Degree at Virtual Vocations

Examples of telecommute jobs for individuals with a master’s degree include:

  • College Faculty Member
  • Speech-Language Pathologist
  • Nurse Practitioner

View All Telecommute Jobs that Require a Master’s Degree at Virtual Vocations

Success Tip for Telecommuters Without Work Experience

To add real-world experience to your resumé, offer to help a professor or community organization with a project as an informal internship. Uptowork Resumé Expert Christian Eilers even suggests adding hobbies and interests to “showcase the human side of you.” For example, you might consider creative writing, image editing, photography, WordPress theme development, or creating Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. Include any related skills, regardless if they are part of a formal curriculum.

Related: Are There Differences in Resumés for Remote Jobs Versus Onsite Jobs?

When You Lack Both Education and Work Experience

If you lack both education and work experience, there are still plenty of telecommute opportunities you can use as a launchpad for your career. Your goal is to leverage your life experience and online educational resources to add meaningful bullet points to your resumé.

1. Take Online Skills Tests and Courses

Take a few online skills tests to demonstrate your competency. The Virtual Vocations team recommends Brainbench and ExpertRating, as well as academic organizations like Kaplan and University of Phoenix.

Also, consider completing a few industry-related online courses. For example, platforms like Udemy and Coursera offer free and low-cost online courses from industry professionals, accredited colleges and universities, and professional organizations. Some courses also provide a certificate of completion, which can serve as an educational or professional credential on your resumé.

You can include any skills test results and online certifications in a “Professional Development” or “Professional Training” section on your resumé. Avoid placing this information under an “Education” section, which you usually reserve for formal high school and post-secondary degrees.

2. Professionalize Your Life Experience

Regardless of your circumstances, you can extract key business skills from your personal life experiences. For example, if you’re a stay-at-home parent, you most likely have skills related to:

  • Communication
  • Scheduling
  • Budgeting
  • Coordinating
  • Multitasking

As another example, if you’re a caregiver for an at-home relative, you most likely have skills related to:

  • Facilitation and management
  • Communication and liaising
  • Observation
  • Problem-solving
  • Decision-making

Reflect on your daily duties and make a list of your common tasks, issues you solve, and improvements you make to your circumstances. Include specifics in your resumé, and clearly map each skill to the job description.

3. Join an Organization

If possible, join an organization at your kid’s school, serve as a chair member for a local nonprofit, or start a meetup group centered around your professional interests. Find ways to get involved and practice leadership, presentation, management, and business skills so that you can honestly discuss them in your job applications.

Telecommute Jobs Without an Education or Work Requirement

Examples of entry-level jobs that may not require education or proven work history include:

  • Writer
  • Video Transcriptionist
  • Translator
  • Customer Service Representative
  • Sales Representative

Such positions may require samples or examples of related skills. For example, blog writing jobs may require that you write 500 words on a given topic and translating jobs may require that you convert a 250-word article to another language.

Success Tip for Telecommuters Without Education or Work Experience

You deserve to be successful. You can still achieve your career goals even when you don’t follow the same route as other professionals. Never give up on yourself and always ask for help whenever you’re stuck.

Also, remember that your resumé is a way to get recruiters to notice you. As U.S. News Contributor Robin Reshwan states, “The job of a resumé is to get you an interview, not hired.” If you can construct a resumé that interests a recruiter, you can showcase your work ethic, describe your qualifications in detail, and make a lasting impression during the interview.

Related: How to Tailor Your Resumé to a Job Offer and Land Your Dream Job

Need Help Writing a Strong Resumé?

If you’re feeling stuck, send your resumé over to our Professional Resumé Review service team. Our human resources and resumé writing experts can give you quick feedback to help you fine-tune your resumé and align it with your industry. Visit the “Additional Services” areas in your Virtual Vocations account to get started!

Have you worried that a lack of work experience or education would keep you from a jobConnect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to share your story. We’d love to hear from you! 

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