Resume structure for a college dropout.

Dear Ranjani,

How would you structure a resume for someone who has around a year or two work experience, but have dropped out of college? I am looking to work in social media marketing, and a lot of companies have turned down my application because I’ve clearly mentioned that my college degree is incomplete.


Hello hello, X!

There is something ridiculously inconsiderate about Indian workplaces that make the degree paramount, even though for most of us it serves no purpose, no? I’m sorry to hear you’ve been turned down because you don’t have a degree. In fact, I remember a friend telling me that he’s been turned down from several places because he has a distance learning degree. Sigh. But this is the fact of the world, and we must navigate it before we can change it.

The one thing I always tell people who ask me for CV-related advice is this: Focus on what you have, not on what you don’t. You’ll see this in what I told Lara about maternity break as well.

Lead with your experience: Mention “Marketer with 2 years of experience in social media management” or something that best summarises you boldly at the top.

Highlight your achievements: If you have grown fan base, written updates without missing a day, increased engagement etc., add all of it to your experience section. Make this part of your CV *impressive*.

Move the education section towards the end: Don’t skip this. Include it and clearly indicate that it’s incomplete.

I’m not suggesting you lie by omission. I’m recommending that you create your CV in such a way that when someone reads it top-to-bottom, they think “Wow, this person is such a great fit, let’s call them and see why they didn’t complete their college education.”

Remember that the CV is to get an interview, not a job. Give enough info that would entice them to want to talk to you. Don’t offer an explanation for dropping out in the CV itself — it will lead to judgment.

I am sure there are organisations out there who care more about skill and talent than a degree. It is rare, I’m sure. But you’ll certainly find one. All the best!

Write to me about how it goes.