At this writing in 2022, it’s a great time for job seekers who are long on ability but short on academic credentials. “Since 2019, there’s been a 20% increase in managers hired who do not have a traditional four-year degree,” according to LinkedIn Talent Blog in December 2021. The trend seems likely to continue. In this post I’ll offer effective tips on how to get hired without a degree – even if the job market becomes less favorable.
If you have anything at all counting against you in your job search – and who does not? –You’re much more likely to get hired through a referral than by simply applying online. Managers are more open to taking a chance on someone who has some connection to them, even if it’s just the fact that someone within the company forwarded your resume. Seek out career research conversations (aka informational interviews) with employees and managers connected to companies you’re interested in.
You’ll gain useful “insider intelligence” as well as introductions. This approach has been shown to be faster than just applying online. Yes, job search is a “numbers game,” but the relevant number is not how many resumes you’ve sent out, it’s how many people you’ve been talking to.
Give your resume a savvy Education section. You may have more to put there than you think.
Have you completed training courses, whether on the job, online or in the community? Earned a certification? If you have not, it’s not too late. SkillShare, LinkedIn Learning, MasterClass, Udemy, edX, Coursera, FutureLearn and Udacity are some of your options online, as well as free online courses from big-name universities.
Do not rule out apprenticeships or independent study, either. If the study is more informal, think about how you can prove what you learned. You can add a “Project” section to your LinkedIn profile and post the details there, and back that up by posting a video or other media in the About section. And of course, add this training to your resume. If you have not completed it yet, note the date you expect to complete it.
If you completed a substantial number of college units (say, 20+), include that in your resume — in the right way.
If you do not have immediate plans to finish the degree, write it like this:
Bachelor of Arts Degree Program in Communications (24 units completed)
Why? By using the words “Bachelor of Arts” or such, you may enable your resume to get past applicant tracking systems that would otherwise eliminate you from consideration. Meanwhile, a human resources rep or hiring manager can see that you do not have the degree, so although you may be gaming the software, you’re being honest with the people.
If you expect to graduate within a year or two, all the better. You might write it like this:
Bachelor of Arts in Communications (2024)
Do include any honors or relevant extracurriculars. You may want to specify your GPA if (a) the education took place within the last few years, and (b) the GPA is at least 3.5 out of 4.
Finally, know that there are many occupations where a degree is optional.
There are many jobs for which it is common to get hired without a degree. Medical Assistant, Ophthalmic Medical Technician, Licensed Practical Nurse, Wind Turbine Technician, Solar Photovoltaic Installer, Firefighter, Accounting Clerk, Client Services Manager, Project Manager, Tech Support Specialist, Mortgage Underwriter and Sales Associate are just a few of the possibilities.