Retiring Military Officer Needs Help Portraying Incomplete Degree


Linda writes:
My husband is retiring from the service. He has made his way
up the ladder from an enlisted personnel to an officer. He is in
the engineering field. The problem is most of the minimum
requirements for positions he is applying for require a bachelor’s
degree. He is approximately 20 credit hours away from this
and still actively in school. What are some suggestions on
verbiage for the cover letter and resume to address this?


The Career Doctor responds:
First kudos to your husband both for the service to our country
but also for working on furthering his education in preparation for
work in the civilian sector.
Your husband has three things working for him right now. First
many employers are actively seek transitioning military veterans
because of the extensive experience and training they receive
while in the service. Second engineering is an occupation back
in demand. Third he is close to completing his degree.
Here’s how you address his situation on these key documents.
On the resume. The goal of a resume is to secure a job interview.
I would start with a summary of qualifications section outlining
his three or four key qualities that make him the perfect candidate
for the job he is seeking. One of those bullets should be his
college education the others should focus on his experience.
Since he is actively working on his education I would list
education next and when you list the degree he is receiving
put the date he expects to be done with it. Then list his
experience. I would also have a section on his advancement
from enlisted personnel to officer.
On the cover letter. Remember the key task of the cover letter is
to sell the hiring manager just enough so that he or she will
review the resume. You want to start of strongly identifying the
key strengths — and ideally tie those directly to what the employer
is looking for in a job candidate. In the second paragraph I would
highlight some of the specific accomplishments of the work
experience along with the number of years in the field. In the
third paragraph I would mention the near-completed degree
and the specific date when it’s expected to be completed.
Note: some employers will substitute years of experience for
an incomplete education. For example college grad and five
years experience or some college and eight years of experience.
Learn more both in the
resume resources
and the military transition
sections of Quintessential Careers.