How to Job Hunt Successfully Without a College Degree

December 2nd, 2020

The soaring cost of higher education is one of the main reasons people don’t finish (or start!) a college degree. If it isn’t the cost, it might be time commitment, location, or a personal factor. These people often have one question in common: How do you grow a professional career if you don’t have this resume credential?

You can job search successfully without a college degree and even enjoy vast professional success. However, you may face some hurdles, so it’s smart to approach your job hunt strategically.

Develop a Value Proposition: What do you bring to the organization that others don’t? Figure out how you stand out from the competition and let your passion shine. Reframe experiences, fine-tune your resume, and sharpen that value proposition. If you need help, work with a career coach.

Probe Small Companies or Startups: Many times requirements on a job listing are negotiable if you can prove proper experience. This includes a college degree. However, larger companies have more red tape and you may discover higher flexibility regarding college-degree requirements if you target SMBs.

Network: “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is a saying that’s key for the job seeker without a college degree. Reach out to your network to fuel your job search and make important connections. Additionally, engage in informational interviews to build your network and reputation.

Look at Companies Without Degree Requirements: There are many well-paying jobs that don’t require a college degree. What’s more, a growing number of companies don’t require a college degree to get hired. Streamline your efforts by looking first at these organizations.

Elevate Your Professional Brand: You want to present a professional image that meets (and ideally surpasses) that of your college-degree touting competition. Consider launching a professional website to showcase your skills. Collect a solid list of references who can speak to your abilities. Refresh your online image and engage on social media, especially LinkedIn. Dress, act, live and breathe the part.

Offer “Try Before You Buy”: If you’re still facing resistance, it’s time to go above and beyond. Offer to work on a sample project for free or as a contractor. This is a risk-free way for the company to “try” you and see if you’re a good fit and capable of doing high-quality work. Then you can blow them away with your abilities.

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