If you are interested in the job, always give yourself the benefit of the doubt as you assess whether or not you possess the equivalent experience. Don’t screen yourself out—leave that decision to the employer after you have made the very best case for your candidacy you can.
Below, read about:
- What equivalent experience means and how to emphasize yours when you apply for a job.
- What a resume summary is, what to include, and how to make your resume shine.
- What the difference is between hard skills and soft skills, and what employers are looking for when they evaluate skillsets.
Examples of Equivalent Experience
There isn't a standard for what is considered equivalent experience. Here are some examples of education and experience equivalencies:
|Sample Education and Experience Equivalencies|
|Job Requirement||Equivalent Experience|
|High School Diploma||4 years of work experience|
|Vocational/Trade School||1 year of related work experience|
|Associate Degree||2 years of college or related work experience|
|Associate Degree||High School Diploma plus 4 years of experience|
|Bachelor's Degree||4 years of related work experience|
|Bachelor's Degree||High School Diploma plus 8 years of experience|
|Master's Degree||Bachelor's Degree plus 2 years of related experience|
|Master's Degree||High School Diploma plus 12 years of experience|
Experience in Place of a Degree or Work Experience
In many cases, while a degree is preferred, some combination of coursework and experience, or else extensive related professional experience, is acceptable for consideration for a position.
Experience other than on-the-job experience may suffice for work requirements. For example, a degree in a related field, coursework, leadership experience in clubs, volunteer work, internships, or community service in place of formal work experience may be considered.
Mentioning Equivalent Experience When You Apply
When you apply for jobs, it's important to clearly state in your applications, cover letters, and interviews exactly what constitutes your equivalent experience. Emphasize the components of your experience that are most related to the job and that prove that you have the core competencies to excel in the position.
In your resume, be sure to put the experience most closely matched to the posted requirements at the beginning of the document, if possible. This “pride of place” positioning will help seize the hiring manager’s interest and encourage him or her to read through the rest of your resume. You might consider using a resume summary statement to highlight the pertinent skills.
Using Your Cover Letter to Explain Experience
Your cover letter is also an excellent place to elaborate on how your experience matches the requirements of the job. Of course, if you land an interview, you will then have the opportunity to make your case in person. Thus, you should make sure that you are prepared to talk about all of the hard and soft skills you have that make you a fantastic candidate for the job.
- Hard skills include teachable proficiencies such as computer knowledge, foreign language proficiency, word processing, or a degree or certification in a specific career field (for example, accounting, management, or business administration).
- Soft skills, also known as “people skills,” include capabilities like leadership, motivation, oral and written communication, problem-solving, flexibility, teamwork, mediation, time management, and work ethic.
What's a summary statement, and when should you include one on your resume? Also known as a summary of qualifications or a resume profile, a summary statement gives the hiring manager, at a glance, a synopsis of your professional qualifications.
When writing a resume summary statement, be sure to include concrete information on how you have added value to companies and helped to transform departments or organizations. This will show the hiring manager that you would be an asset to the company.
Here's advice on how to write a resume summary statement, what to include, and examples to review.
What is a Resume Summary Statement?
A resume summary statement is a brief list or a few sentences at the top of your resume (after your contact information) that highlights your qualifications for a job. It showcases your most important credentials, and is listed above your employment history. The person reviewing your resume will be able to view your most important attributes at a glance.
Resume Summary Statement vs. Resume Objective
A resume summary statement is not the same as a resume objective. Both are a few sentences long, and are located at the top of one’s resume. However, a resume objective statement tends to focus more on your own interests as a job seeker—it emphasizes what you are looking for in a job or company.
A resume summary statement, on the other hand, communicates what you can bring to the table in the targeted role. It is a way to “sell yourself” to the employer.
Benefits of a Resume Summary Statement
There are a number of benefits to including a summary statement in your resume. The main benefit is that it helps your resume stand out. When hiring managers are reading through dozens, even hundreds, of resumes, they often skim through each and miss information. By beginning with a statement that concisely describes why you are qualified, you are more likely to get a closer look.
However, just writing a resume summary statement does not guarantee that employers will be interested in your resume.You need to make sure your resume summary statement concisely demonstrates why you are an ideal candidate for the specific job and company.
How Long Should a Resume Summary Statement Be?
The summary statement should be approximately two to four lines and speak to your professional background only. A cover letter is an expanded version of the statement that will allow your personality to shine through.
What to Include in a Resume Summary Statement
Your summary statement is often the first item read on a resume, so you want to get to the point: why should a company hire you? In about one to four sentences, highlight your most relevant strengths, skillset, and core competencies that are unique to you as a candidate.
In particular, demonstrate how you would add value to the company. Have you saved money for a company in the past? Did you streamline an administrative process? Include skills and experiences that will impress the employer, using specific percentages, numbers, or dollar amounts to quantify your achievements.
Be sure to tailor your resume summary to the specific job listing.
Look at the listing, and try to incorporate keywords from the listing in your resume summary. This will help the employer see how you are a good fit for the job.
In a resume summary statement, avoid skills that are commonplace (for example, avoid mentioning Microsoft Office), or overused words (such as "multitasker" or “team player”). Try to use action words to demonstrate your achievements.
To recap, you want to include the following elements in your statement:
- Core strengths and skill sets most relevant to the role
- Past relevant experience with key functions
- Notable accomplishments that you intend to repeat in the next role
During the job application and interview process, employers look for applicants with hard skills and soft skills. Successful candidates will make sure to put both skill sets on display. In order to do so effectively, it helps to understand the difference between these two types of skills.
Review the differences between hard and soft skills, what employers look for, how to highlight your skills, and examples of each type of skill.
What Are Hard Skills?
Hard skills are teachable abilities or skill sets that are easy to quantify. Typically, you'll learn hard skills in the classroom, through books or other training materials, or on the job. These hard skills are often listed in your cover letter and on your resume and are easy for an employer or recruiter to recognize. Hard skills include:
- Proficiency in a foreign language
- A degree or certificate
- Typing speed
- Machine operation
- Computer programming
What Are Soft Skills?
Soft skills, on the other hand, are subjective skills that are much harder to quantify. Also known as "people skills" or "interpersonal skills," soft skills relate to the way you relate to and interact with other people. Soft skills include:
- Problem solving abilities
- Time management
- Work ethic
Unlike hard skills, it's hard to point to specific evidence that you possess a soft skill. If an employer is looking for someone who knows a programming language, you can share your grade in a class or point to a program you created using the language. But how can you show that you have a work ethic or any other soft skill?
Make note of your soft skills and point out some concrete instances where you've used them. Just saying you have the skill isn't very meaningful. Instead, your best bet is to demonstrate that you possess this quality by sharing examples of times when you used it.
Top Skills Employers Look For
While certain hard skills are necessary for any position, employers increasingly look for job applicants with certain soft skills. That's because it's generally easier for an employer to train a new employee in a hard skill (such as how to use a certain computer program) than to train an employee in a soft skill (such as patience).
Analytical skills, communication skills, interpersonal skills, and leadership skills are among the top skills employers look for from prospective employees.
Employers are increasingly looking for candidates with hybrid skills, which are a combination of soft and technical skills. Candidates with this skill set are very competitive in a continually evolving, technologically-focused economy.
If you possess the top skills employers seek in candidates for employment, incorporate them into your resume and cover letters and mention them during job interviews.
Emphasize Both Hard and Soft Skills
Since they're both important, emphasize both your hard and soft skills during the job application process. This way, even if you lack a hard skill required by the company, you can emphasize a particular soft skill that you know would be valuable in the position.
For example, if the job involves working on a number of group projects, emphasize your experience and skill as a team player and your ability to communicate with team members.
Skills to List and Avoid
The type of skills to highlight on resumes, cover letters, and during interviews vary depending upon the type of job for which you're applying. If you're seeking an administrative job, for instance, communication skills, customer service skills, experience crafting business correspondence, and stenography are helpful skills to list.
If the position is managerial related, it's important to demonstrate supervision experience and leadership skills like the ability to delegate and problem-solve. Interpersonal skills such as empathy, patience, and diplomacy are also important traits to possess.
Reading the job description carefully will give you a sense of the type of job-specific skills an employer is looking for in applicants.
What you won't find in that description, however, are the skills not to list, including proficiency with software or technology that is no longer relevant like MS-DOS or Lotus 1-2-3. The same goes for skills that you do not possess or are otherwise unrelated to the job in question. Experience as a graphic designer, for example, wouldn't necessarily be applicable to a position in human resources.
How to Highlight Your Skills
To make sure potential employers are aware of your skills, highlight them on your resume and cover letter. Weave in mentions of your skills during job interviews.