Former Obama Administration HUD Secretary and current CEO, Maurice Jones, is making it his mission to help Black talent climb the economic ladder by catalyzing new pathways to family-sustaining jobs. According to a 2021 study conducted by his organization, OneTen, 76% of Black Americans are without a four-year degree while 79% of all jobs that pay $60K or more require a four-year degree.

The CEO wants more Black jobseekers to be proactive in leveraging skills acquired through other means, like internships or apprenticeships, to land higher paying jobs and thus close the gap.

"White families in American have ten times, or more, wealth than Black families in America. That data is the overarching data point is the overarching reason for the formation of OneTen," Jones shares. "Degrees can be a systemic barrier to Black talent earning their way to the middle class in America. We aim to address that in a scaled way by getting the employer sector to transform itself to a skills-first culture, where skills are the dominant factor of success. We're trying to put together an ecosystem that will hire and promote 1 million Black talent over the next 10-years into family-sustaining jobs and careers."

While society would have us to believe that obtaining a college degree is the only way to be successful in America, Jones emphasizes that the skills we acquire in different facets of life should be just as important on a resume. We asked the OneTen CEO to offer expert tips on how Black talent can better utilize said skills in a way that's attractive to potential employers and recruiters.

"It's about articulating actual skills we've developed as a result of our work, education, and life experiences. You want to create a skills-first resume."

Make sure you have a good understanding of potential opportunities

"There are a lot of companies now that are adopting a skill-first approach to hiring. As employees, you need to know what is available to you so that you aren't just writing yourself off from opportunities," Maurice Jones says. "Do the homework to understand where companies are."

Know the difference between the two types of skills

Jones highlights that there are two main types of skills that translate to jobs, technical skills and durable skills.

"Technical skills are those needed to perform the job. But, durable skills are the muscles to it all. Things like being a great problem solver, showing up on time, or being able to work in teams. Durable skills will be more important in the long run than the technical skills. Also, employers are especially looking for folks that can demonstrate they have built the muscle that allows them to solve problems and someone who can be a great team member with folks from all walks of life."

Understand there are multiple ways to acquire skills

College isn't the only way to gain skills for your resume. The former HUD secretary points out that you also should consider skills acquired from the military, coding bootcamps, apprenticeships and many more.

"We need to do our homework and learn about all of these. We then need to pursue the path that makes the most sense for our lives at the time."