Earlier this week, a client asked me whether his education and certificates should be included on his resume. He attended three semesters of college, has an internal certification from his employer, and he is currently pursuing an online certification relevant to his job target.
Regular readers of this blog won’t be surprised that I recommended my client include all his education. The US Department of Labor says that “education pays.” My personal experience, and observations of my clients’ experiences continue to support this notion.
There are some nuances of the education issue that have changed my views on how to present education inn your career marketing campaign as we approach 2023.
- Certifications have gained in importance,
- Recent education and certifications will enhance visibility for your LinkedIn profile, and
- You are likely to earn more money!
As always, I caution jobseekers that “your results may vary.” No amount of education, in my view, will ensure that you will land the job you want in the occupation you trained for, at the salary you feel entitled to receive. My only claim is that more education is likely to improve your career prospects.
Certifications have increased in importance.
About 20 years ago, the most important credential a job candidate could have was the college degree. Nearly every job posting I saw specified a “college degree” as “required.”
The world has changed. Now, I’ve been told an increasing number of companies post jobs that require a professional certification, and state the college degree is “preferred.”
The advent of applicant tracking systems (ATS) and the growing importance of LinkedIn are also leading to more emphasis on certifications. ATS systems and LinkedIn are largely keyword driven. For example, my client wants to pursue a job as an electromechanical technician that maintains railroad signals so he is pursuing an electromechanical technician certification. When a railroad hiring manager searches his database for a resume with the term “electromechanical certification” in it my client’s resume should be one of those displayed.
It’s an oversimplification, though, to suggest that filling your resume with the right buzzwords, or “word salad” will result in your resume landing on the hiring manager’s virtual desk. It won’t because modern systems use artificial intelligence features, not simple word matches, to select resumes and LinkedIn profiles for review. Presumably, you cannot “keyword stuff” so your resume will surface. And if a keyword-stuffed resume does get through, the first hiring team member that reviews it will reject it.
Perhaps a simpler way to think about it is that resumes and LinkedIn profiles should be factual. Employers will test your key skills, especially technical skills, and they will verify degrees and certifications required for the job.
You can say you are currently enrolled in a program. An ATS will pick up your resume because the degree is there, but you are being truthful by showing an expected graduation date, or saying the degree or certificate is “in progress.” Again, it is important to make certain you have a transcript or other evidence that will verify your progress through the program.
Recent education and certificates will enhance your LinkedIn profile.
Traditionally, we do not include the date that you completed college or other education on your resume if you graduated more than five years ago. This helps discourage conscious or unconscious age bias.
LinkedIn is changing the rules. While you can leave dates off your education on LinkedIn, recruiters say your profile could be missed in searches. That’s because LinkedIn recruiting tools ask recruiters to enter a date range into searches for, say, candidates with college degrees. Your profile won’t be found if you have no dates.
There appears to be a workaround for this. As discussed in a previous post, you can enter the graduation date for your most recent degree or certification in the education section so your profile will be found.
This poses a challenge for those of us that completed our degrees 20 or even 40 years ago and want to pursue new employment. While short-term certification programs will probably not add as much to your skillset as a graduate program or four-year undergraduate degree, they will demonstrate you are staying current. The new training sill also pull your profile into more search results. So, consider this option.
You are likely to earn more money!
Last, but not least, federal government statistics the US Department of Labor updated last month, shown on the table below, continue to indicate that education increases your earning power.
|Unemployment rates and earnings by educational attainment, 2021|
|Educational attainment||Median usual weekly earnings ($)||Unemployment rate (%)|
|Some college, no degree||899||5.5|
|High school diploma||809||6.2|
|Less than a high school diploma||626||8.3|
Source: Current Population Survey, U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
The updated statistics show that workers with degrees had a substantial earnings advantage over workers with high school diplomas only. Those with graduate and professional degrees earned more than twice the wage (nearly 2.4 times) of a high school graduate. College graduates with four-year degrees earned about 1.6 times the wage of a high school graduate.
A college education will also reduce your risk of being unemployed. For example, the data shows that workers with high school diplomas had a 6.2% unemployment rate while the rate among college grads was reported to be 3.5% in 2021.
It’s understandable that when the sticker price for a four-year private college such as NYU can top $80,000 per year for a bachelor’s degree, not everyone wants to make the investment. It behooves you, in my opinion, to look at the numbers and decide whether this investment is right for you. We have demonstrated, then, that adding education and certifications to your resume and profile can pay off in several ways. You will be found in more searches, show the potential to learn new skills, and have an opportunity to earn more money.