Fortunately, one’s career and life success is not based solely on obtaining a college degree. Just look at the rise of Bill Gates of Microsoft, Michael Dell of Dell, and in more recent days, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook. These high profile and successful businessmen chose to pursue business over completing a college education. That decision hardly stopped them from succeeding.

But, just because these individuals have succeeded in leading prosperous careers for themselves without first obtaining a college degree, can you do the same? Many candidates fear employers will pass on their resume for other candidates with a college education. Certainly, there are employers that require their employees to have a college education and degree to qualify for the job, but there are also employers who could care less about your education or degree obtained. The fact that one earned his stripes from an Ivy League institution does not place him in higher favor at many organizations. Some employers are more interested in a candidate’s character and professional experiences to determine qualification and the best placement for the job.

A college degree becomes less of a highlight on resumes when you have five or more professional years of experience to show. In such instances, even for a candidate with a college degree the education portion of the resume is shifted down to the bottom of the page or entirely eliminated.

So, don’t worry so much about what you don’t have and focus on highlighting what you do have to offer on your resume.

- Place Your Work History before Education. Employers want to know that you are effective and can do the job, and the best way to do that is to demonstrate particular accomplishments and achievements in previous jobs. By making the right impression at the start of your resume and showing how you qualify for the job by the time an employer gets to the education section of your resume, they may be able to overlook any shortcomings. Or, they may be so impressed to not even take note of what you indicate in the education section.

- Add Professional Development. This is an opportunity to showcase self-initiative – and is a category on your resume that can help downplay the fact that you did not obtain a degree. For instance, it is especially critical in the IT sector for professionals to be up-to-date on new developments happening in the field. Professionals also need to be trained on new developments in technical infrastructure and obtain or renew certifications. Showcasing your participation in training, such as courses, seminars and conferences will demonstrate to an employer that you have the know-how needed to do the job applied for. This provides greater value to certain employers than seeing that a candidate has obtained a college degree alone.

- Include Partially Completed Education. If you are in the process of completing your degree or you took courses in the past, make sure you indicate that on the resume which will help you in keyword searches.

- Send your resume to the Decision Maker, not HR. If you have over 10 years of work experience, the decision maker will probably not care about a diploma from a long time ago. However, the human resources manager probably will as they attempt to screen out all but the most perfect fits for a job. So do not send your resume over the web – better to send it to the decision maker directly. See Reviewing The Best Job Search Techniques.

Clearly, there are certain career paths where you need to obtain a degree in order to make it your profession – such as being a lawyer, a doctor, a CPA or a teacher. In many instances, however, one’s life and career success is based more on experience than education alone.

Author's Bio: 

Don Goodman, President of About Jobs ( is a nationally recognized Expert Resume Writer, Certified Career Management Coach and Job Search Strategist. A graduate of the Wharton School of Business and Stanford University's Executive Program, Don has helped thousands of people secure their next job. Get a Free Resume Evaluation, read his blog at or contact him at 800-909-0109 or by e-mail at