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Resume Help/Things to include in resume


Hi Dr. Converse,

I am getting conflicting information about something to include in my resume.  One person says not to include any education that is not relevant to the job I am applying for.  Another person tells me that all education should be included.  What is your take on this?


Hi Colin,

I understand your confusion about which route to take, but I also understand why there are conflicting opinions out there.  Just remember this: no one person has all the answers for every situation.  Some employers want one thing and others want something entirely different.  In the end, you need to get as much information as you can, tailor your documents to each individual employer to the best of your ability, and then use your best judgement about what to include.

In this instance, my own take on this is that - generally speaking - I encourage all of my clients to include their education even if it seems not to be relevant to a particular job.  One of the reasons for this is that if you were in school full-time, those years will assist an employer in determining what you were doing in years that would otherwise be a gap in employment (if you didn't list the years you were in school).  For example, if you graduated high school in 2005, held a job from 2005 through 2007, and then went to college full-time to get a degree (from 2007 through 2011) but you chose not to list that degree because you thought it was irrelevant, how would you account for those four years on your resume?  If you do nothing, employers are left to assume all kinds of things.  They may assume you left that period blank intentionally because you don't want them to know what you were doing (spending time in prison, for example).  So, if you don't want them to assume the worst, tell them what you were up to.

But aside from that, I believe an employer would like to know that you have a degree even if it isn't in a field related to the job in question.  If your degree was in biology and you are now wanting to get into marketing, the disconnect there is obvious.  But here is why I think the degree should be listed: it demonstrates that you have the desire and capacity to work, persist, and finish what you start.  Only one in four people in the U.S. have a four-year college degree.  Most people who start their degree studies, don't finish.  Why?  Because it's hard.  But, as the movie line goes, it's supposed to be hard.  If it was easy, everyone would do it.  So an employer sees that you had the determination to finish your degree and they will conclude (usually) that a quality such as that will make you a desirable employee - even if your biology skills have little to do with marketing techniques.  That "soft skill" of persistence and dedication to an assigned task is a valuable commodity in any job.

If you would like to send me your resume when you finish, I will be glad to give you complimentary feedback on it.  Just attach it to an email and send it to the address below.

Best wishes,

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Ralph D. Converse, Ph.D.


I can answer questions about general job searches, resume construction, crafting an effective cover letter, and how to prepare for, and conduct, a winning interview. My speciality is the field of education, but I also have extensive background in business and administration. I know what works and what doesn't work and I can make your application package stand out from the rest ... because that is what you have to do.


I have interviewed for, and held, dozens of jobs in a career going back more than 42 years. I have taught at all educational levels including middle school, high school, community college, and university. In more than 42 years of experience on both sides of the job-search process, I have interviewed hundreds of applicants and have reviewed literally tens of thousands of job application packages. I am the author of 12 Mistakes That Got Your Job Application Rejected ... And How To Fix Them! I conduct workshops for job seekers in a variety of locations every year.

Music Educator's Journal, Teaching Music, Music and American Culture (forthcoming, 2013), Last Teacher Standing: The Job is Yours Now! and 12 Mistakes That Got Your Job Application Rejected ... And How To Fix Them!

B.A. New Mexico State University; M.Mus. Southern Illinois University; Ph.D. University of California and University of North Texas

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