Tips For Conducting a Successful Job Search without a College Degree | Articles & Tips | | Rochester




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 Tips For Conducting a Successful Job Search without a College Degree

By Joe Stein

Constantly in the news is discussion around college degrees and the perceived requirement of having one to gain employment. New York has even just implemented a free tuition program for qualified participants attending a state university program. It is easy for a person to get the impression that a college degree is required to find a job. The reality, however, is much different.
The U.S. Bureau of Statistics (BLS) released a report that estimates that only 20% of positions require a bachelor’s degree while 30% require an Associate’s Degree or above. This leaves 70% of all jobs requiring just a High School Degree (or less). It is a common message to hear that if you don’t have a college degree, there aren’t any jobs available. This is (of course) incorrect, although I acknowledge that most studies show that those who possess a college degree tend to earn more. The BLS study shows that there are a lot of jobs available for those who run a good job search and have a desire to be employed.
If you are a person without a college degree, there are some tips for you to consider when conducting your job search. Let’s take a look at some of these tips.
·        Focus on Jobs You Are Qualified For: It is easy for you, the Job Seeker, to derail a job search by pursuing positions that you are not qualified for. All this serves to do is create a demotivating experience, as you receive rejections or no response at all. This is also a time waster when you could be reallocating this effort towards other positions. In a related note, understand that rejections may occur simply because of your lack of degree. Don’t let it impact you, and move on with your job search.
·        Stress Your Experience – Many companies will accept equivalent experience in lieu of a college degree. These are important positions to focus on if you meet the non-degree qualifications. If this is the situation, then clearly note in your Cover Letter, that you have “x” years of related experience for the position. 
·        Communicate Training and Skills – There are a number of avenues to capture knowledge beyond a college degree. If you picked up any certifications along the way in your career, this can be used in lieu of a degree. You also want to stress all the skills you possess, especially if it directly relates to the job description of the position. If there is a particular certification that would assist you and you don’t possess it, you should strongly consider obtaining it prior to starting your search.
·        Get Started on Your Degree – You can gain a lot of mileage with a Hiring Manager if you are in pursuit of your degree. This is especially true if you are close to finishing your degree, but never did. It can pay off to sign-up for a course. At least then you can accurately state that you are pursuing your advanced degree.
·        Use Your Network – It would be very helpful to have a person who “vouches” for you, your experience, and work ethic when pursuing a position. This scenario may cause an employer to overlook your lack of degree because you come endorsed by someone trusted. You can make sure that your friends, former co-workers, and family know that you are in pursuit of a new job.
·        Be Ready for Questioning – If this is a position where many candidates possess a college degree, you will probably be asked about why you don’t have one. Be prepared to concisely answer this question (without apology), and then move on to selling your experience and achievements. For example, if you started with a company out of High School and were constantly giving increased responsibilities, mention how your career took precedence over this personal achievement.
·        Make a Positive Impression – You want to give yourself every opportunity to positively stand out. This way you can make the Hiring Manager consider all of your other attributes, and focus less on your lack of a college degree. So, have a great Cover Letter and Resume, do your company research, prepare for all the frequently asked interview questions, and be professional at all times.
Despite what you may have read or heard, if you do not have a college degree this does not automatically mean that you can’t find yourself a new position. Consider doing some of the tips above to place yourself in a spot to obtain a great new job, even if you do not have a college degree!