Earning a college degree will go a long way in helping you land your dream job, but it’s not always necessary. In fact, more and more employers today are passing up candidates with expensive degrees in favor of those who come to the table with quantified results in a portfolio, proven work ethic, and a great attitude. Sound like you? Then help yourself seal the deal with these ways to build credibility with employers without that fancy degree:
There are two paths to follow once you graduate from high school: one leads to college, and the other does not. But even if you’re college-bound, your family may not be able to afford it, essentially limiting the level of education you can receive.
That used to be true, anyway.
Nowadays, there are a number of ways to self-educate and gain the skills you need for the job you want. For example, you can enroll in free or low-cost local courses, scavenge libraries and the Internet for all things academic that apply to your career, and you can seek out on-the-job training opportunities when they’re available.
It’s what many people do who don’t have a degree, so you’re in good company — you just have to go for it.
Request an Internship
Plenty of people, including mid-career adults, seek out internships when deciding to pursue a new career. The knowledge you gain from these experiences — which are usually unpaid — are often more valuable than an expensive college degree that says you learned something even though you haven’t applied it yet.
“What I did to get my first job was I took an internship — but it was one that I created,” recalls software engineer Tom Brusehaver. “I answered an ad for a paid software position and offered to do an unpaid internship at the company instead. I was enrolled in a community college at the time, and my adviser sanctioned it to work toward the college credit I needed. One thing lead to another, and two weeks as an unpaid intern eventually lead to a full time job. Six months later I was working for the company that supplied the first company with computers supporting their software. After three years, I was off to another company, and 35 years later I still work as a software engineer — without a bachelor’s degree!”
Show Some Initiative
A degree may help you get your foot in the door at many companies, but many employers are looking for more than what you’ve likely embellished on your resume. Your own personality traits play a large role in the hiring decisions, of which resourcefulness and motivation are near the top of the list.
“When evaluating candidates to fill spots on our team, I’ll be honest — a degree almost doesn’t matter,” says Bryan Clayton, CEO of the lawn service GreenPal. “I’m looking for initiative with respect to things that they’ve already done in their career. For somebody with little work experience this could be something as simple as hobbies or side projects that they’ve completed.”
Do Some Volunteer Work
Doing good deeds often go unnoticed, but that’s not always true when they’re on your resume.
“Maybe you didn’t graduate from a big university, but you’re helping people or animals in need,” says Gregory Golinski, HR coordinator for Arizona Grand Resort & Spa. “You’ll meet interesting people, do something positive for your community, and it will look great on your resume.”
Who knows? It’s possible that your volunteer work may even endear you to an employer who themself may be a volunteer or have volunteered in the past, and you might discover that you have something in common right off the bat.
Create a Solid LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn may be helping you build credibility with employers right now — and you don’t even know it. The key to getting noticed by potential employers on this social platform starts with a great profile photo that illustrates your professional side. Then start joining groups that appeal to you and participate in conversations that show off your expertise. “You’ll get noticed by potential employers and recruiters,” Golinski says. “But it only works if you work at it.”
Photo Credit: alachua county