What happens when you have vast knowledge and work experience but no degree? There are a few different ways of looking at this hurdle, but thinking that you can’t get a great position without a degree shouldn’t be one of them.

In general, many large companies require a bachelor’s degree. Because of the volume of resumes they receive, many companies have filters in place to cut down the number of eligible applicants, and having a bachelor’s degree is usually one of them. This is where many non-degreed job searchers get stopped; but if you are determined to work at a certain company or in a skill area where you have experience and passion, here is where your personal branding will come in handy.

  • It’s about who you know – If networking is a key to getting your name out there for a degreed candidate, it is especially important without one. If you know someone who can speak to your skills and work ethic, you are much more likely to get a shot. Work your network, meet new people, join industry groups, but, whatever you do, don’t take the first “no” for an answer!
  • Re-work your resume to talk about your record of success at each position you held and specific skills that you have learned at each one. Have you worked in engineering for 25 years with no degree? Talk about the projects that you have successfully worked on or led. There is a reason why you were able to stay in a certain field or job for so long. You ARE great at what you do, do not forget that.
  • Look to a different company- Small and medium sized companies may require a bachelor’s degree for many positions as well, but these rules can be more lenient than larger companies for several reasons.
    • In smaller companies, the hiring managers are more likely to know and work directly with many of their employees.  They know their culture and what specific skills are needed for the position, so when they interview someone who not only meets the requirements, but has a personality that complements the team that they would work with, they are more likely to overlook a lack of degree.
    • Small to medium sized companies tend to have an entrepreneurial spirit, where creativity and applied skills are valued more, whether or not you have the piece of paper to back them up.

In all cases, degreed or not, the key to getting a job in the area that you want is the ability to market yourself with confidence and use your network.


Author: Elyse Lopez