Not every career begins with a college education. Often, professionals start in an entry-level position, work their way up in their field over time, and collect ample experience that gives them critical skills in their niche. While those professionals are highly capable, they may struggle to find a job if a college degree is a requirement, even if they have the capabilities necessary to thrive in the role.
In some cases, this may tempt some professionals to list a degree they didn’t earn on their resume, allowing them to seemingly meet all of the requirements. However, this is a risky move, as a lie on a resume can mean immediate disqualification and may lead to termination even if they were initially hired.
Fortunately, lying on a resume isn’t a necessity. If you have experience but no degree, here’s how to navigate the hiring process to land a new job.
Tap Your Network for Referrals
In many cases, if a job listing includes a degree as a requirement and you apply using the traditional process, you’ll get screened out by the applicant tracking system (ATS). Mainly, that’s because an ATS is programmed to look for specific keywords or certain checked boxes, and if it doesn’t find them, it assumes you aren’t a great fit.
By tapping your network for referrals instead, you can potentially bypass the ATS. It’s possible that someone you know could get your resume in front of a hiring manager another way, such as by sending it to them directly in an email. Plus, they can be your advocate, sharing why they believe the hiring manager should consider you. That may allow you to land an interview, all without an ATS being part of the equation.
Make the Most of Your Cover Letter
A cover letter is an opportunity to highlight what you bring to the table, as well as address any concerns a hiring manager may have about your resume. This gives you a chance to showcase your value and also mention that while you lack a degree, that doesn’t mean you aren’t an exceptional candidate.
You can discuss that you took an unconventional path to get this far in your career and showcase how that route led to skill development and knowledge acquisition, not unlike what a person gains through traditional education. Couple that with a discussion of any formal training you do have – such as individual courses, mentorship programs, or certifications – and you can potentially make notable headway.
Use Quantified Achievements to Highlight Your Value
An enticing resume is one that doesn’t tell the hiring manager you have the right skills and experience; it shows them. By using quantified achievements, you’ll have an easier time demonstrating your value. The hiring manager is getting critical context about your skillset and how it helps you thrive, which could allow you to stand out enough to move forward even if they typically look for candidates with degrees.
Connect with a Recruiter
When you connect with a recruiter, you get a job search ally who can function as your advocate. They can market you directly to leading employers in the area, ensuring the hiring manager sees your value based on the skills and experience you bring to the table.
Plus, a recruiter can help you find opportunities with companies that welcome unconventional candidates. They know which employers understand the value of experience and can help you focus on them to find the right job.
Put Your Skills To Work and Further Your Career
If you’re ready for a new position, the staff at Alpha Consulting wants to hear from you. Contact us to speak with one of our recruiters today.