This is the time of year you see loads of job-hunting advice for the new graduate, from creating the killer resume to cleaning up your social media presence.
But what about the “non” graduate? You know who you are. With college tuition at stratospheric levels, and unemployment at a 50-year low, many people have decided to enter the workforce sooner rather than later.
If this is you, you’ll be happy to learn that more and more employers, realizing that academic credentials don’t always add up to talent, ambition and a strong work ethic, have decided to stop requiring college degrees for new hires. You’ve no doubt heard of some of them: Google, Apple, Starbucks, IBM, Bank of America and more. We’re talking about well-paid positions in fields like technology, customer service, health care and administration, with benefits and opportunities for career advancement.
For employers who do still ask for college degrees, keep in mind that often this is only meant to reduce the number of applicants. If you can clearly demonstrate you have the skills and experience to do a particular job, lots of worthy companies will not care about your level of formal education.
Job hunting without a degree definitely means you’ll need to take your networking to the next level, however. Find ways to get to know the people who can introduce you to the insiders and hiring managers in your chosen field. It’s the folks in your network who will help you prove to an employer that you would be a good investment. Plus, the more networking you do, the more likely you’ll learn about openings before they’re listed. You may even get a chance to create your own job.
At the same time, evaluate your current skills, experience and achievements to determine how transferable they are. Be open to taking courses relating to the field you want to work in or to completing a certificate program — both of which are faster, and cheaper, than a four-year degree.
Finally, you could consider going after internships or apprenticeships, or even offering to work for free (for a limited period of time).
Your lack of a degree doesn’t need to hold you back. All you have to do is show a potential employer what value you bring.