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Should I Leave Education Off My Resume If I Never Graduated?

Updated: Nov 21, 2023

A resume’s only goal is to tell the hiring managers a story about the candidates. Who they are, what they’ve been doing with their lives, and how successful they were doing those things. The end goal of that story is to have hiring managers form an opinion on candidates, which will ultimately help them make up their mind if someone is worth hiring, or not.

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Therefore, so many undergraduate students are hiring professional resume writing services to help them craft a perfect resume.

So, it is crucial for the story to be positive, and end on a positive note. That becomes almost an impossible task, if the story job seekers are telling has negative elements. For example, a general lack of experience, or a serious lack of education.

Those things can hurt the story and have the hiring manager choosing someone else. How do you list your education on a resume, if you never graduated? The easiest answer would be to tell you – You don’t. Omit education altogether. But that doesn’t solve the problem. Omitting such an important element will leave a gaping hole in your resume. You will also end up with a document that offers more questions than answers, and that’s no way to write a resume. Writing down that you have poor formal education is also not the solution because you simply won’t get hired.

The solution to such a big issues seems to be in the middle. It’s situational. Sometimes, you can afford to omit education from your resume. On other occasions, you should list it, regardless of if you’ve graduated, or not. Consult with a certified professional resume writing company near you.

When To Leave Education Off Your Resume

Let’s take a closer look at some of the more common situations when you should not list your education on a resume:

When you only have general, and / or irrelevant knowledge. Education’s goal is to help you complete tasks easier, faster and with better results. If the education you have can’t help you do that, then you’re only wasting time listing it on your resume. If you haven’t graduated, and have only completed general education classes like Math, or English, don’t bother listing those on your resume.

When your resume is too long. This is another very common one. If you have plenty work experience, but never got to finish college, you’d be better off highlighting your work experience, than education. It is important not to overwhelm the hiring managers with information, and if you have enough to help you get hired, then you can afford omitting education.

When Add Education To Your Resume, Even If You Didn’t Graduate

There are scenarios when you can list education on your resume, even though you haven’t graduated. As you’ll soon learn, it’s not about the diploma – it’s about applicable knowledge you’ve had, and if that knowledge can be applied to the position you’re applying for. Here are a few situations when you can list your unfinished education:

If you’re currently attending college. This is a no-brainer. If you’re currently attending college and have every intention of completing it, then by all means – list it on your resume. It will tell the hiring managers of the direction you’re heading, and what they can expect from you in years to come.

If you have at least 60 college credits. Some companies will hire you if you have enough college credits. Course credits are earned when you attend and / or complete certain classes, so 60 course credits means you’ve completed a significant amount of classes. Also, if the classes you completed include non-generic knowledge that can be applied to the job position, even better.

Know When To Hire Professional Resume Experts For College Students

Education is an important part of every person’s resume, but you don’t necessarily need to have a college degree to be able to confidently list it. Also, the diploma doesn’t necessarily guarantee you an interview invitation. Those things are highly situational, and the first thing you should do is think long and hard if the education you have is relevant (enough) to be listed, diploma or no diploma.
Don’t worry about listing education on a resume without graduating. Worry about the story you’re telling the hiring managers. If the story is good, you can afford not having the diploma and still get hired. If it’s no good, there’s no degree in this universe that can help you.
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