Dear Matt: I have three years of law school experience, but never finished my law degree. I have a strong background in management in the corporate world and am pursuing jobs in that field. Do I still list my law school experience on my résumé even though I didn't finish? Will it help or hurt me?
Matt: When I write résumés for clients, the first thing I always tell them is that we want to tailor their résumé to fit the job they are applying for. Everything you highlight in your summary/objective and profile (and experience, if possible) should clearly show the employer you have the skills and have achieved results in the key areas they are looking for in the job description for the position.
Therefore, if I was working with you on your résumé, I would tell you to emphasize the results you have achieved as a manager in a corporate setting. Since those are the jobs you are aiming for, that's where the focus of your résumé should be.
I have worked with numerous clients who are in your situation. They have a few years of college, but didn't finish. Or, they are working on their MBA, but have not completed the program yet. The answer: You definitely want to list any education you have, whether you completed the degree program or not.
"Three years of law school is better than no law school experience," said Caleb Fullhart, a Twin Cities-based recruiter with Accenture.
Employers want workers with multiple skill sets and experiences, especially in this era of reduced budgets and smaller staffs. This could help you gain a position within a law firm as a business manager, where you would have to communicate and understand law-related language, issues and topics. It could lead to management positions in a legal department, or for firms in the legal industry. Most importantly, it is another asset to show an employer.
"For me personally, if someone has some schooling in a specific area, finished or unfinished, and is applying for a role in which they have a good amount of experience, I would tend to think of it as a positive," said Fullhart.
Highlight the experiences you have and the results you have achieved and you will show the employer you have the skills needed for the job, degree or no degree.
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