No Degree? No Problem!

“I don’t have a college degree, so I’m going to have some difficulty getting a job.” A recent client started our first strategy session with this statement.

“What is your evidence?” I asked.

Dead Silence…

My client had a tough time responding because unless you’re looking for a career as a doctor, lawyer or a CPA, your degree often doesn’t matter.

If you are one of the many job seekers out there who believe you’re weak in the degree department, there are a few things you should know.

1) You are not alone.

Bill Gates (reportedly the world’s richest person who may be worth around $75 billion) never graduated from college.

“He’s an exception,” you say? But, neither did:

  • Anna Wintour (Artistic Director of Conde Nast and former long-time editor-in-chief of Vogue) who is worth around $35 million.
  • Dave Thomas (Founder and CEO of Wendy’s) who was reportedly worth about $100 million upon his death in 2002.
  • Rachel Ray (Celebrity Chef) who has an estimated net worth of $60 million.
  • Steve Jobs (Co-founder of Apple) who was worth around $11 billion at the time of his death in 2011.

I’m not saying that it’s important to be making millions—it’s important to make whatever impact you want and to be happy in your work. I’m just saying you can be successful without a traditional college degree.

2) People learn differently.

I’ve written before that employers want to hire “continuous learners.” But we don’t all learn in the same way. For this reason, many job posting state, “Bachelor’s degree or the equivalent in experience.” And even if they don’t, I wouldn’t rule yourself out without further research.

Some people are hands-on learners who learn by doing. Others may learn in on-line classes, day-long workshops or certificate and credentialing programs. Still others learn by reading. Remember that great bar scene in Good Will Hunting? Will ran circles around the students at the local Ivy League college because he loved reading! (This is one of my favorite movie scenes of all time since I abhor bullies…)

Be prepared to show how you are a continuous learner—in your unique way.

3) Focus on your strengths.

Everyone has obstacles in their career journey. And the best way to offset yours is by selling what you do offer in your marketing materials (resume, cover-letter, Linkedin profile, etc.,) in your interview meetings and in meetings with your industry connections. These should include your:

  • Acquired Skills
  • Professional Experience
  • Proven Results

You should be prepared to tell detailed success stories that include all of these to engage the reader or listener.

No one ever got a job by covering up a secret–or by selling what they don’t have. The successful job candidate demonstrates that he or she can solve problems for the targeted organization. Tell your winning story and you up your chances of landing that coveted job!

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