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You must be creative to get around the lack of a degree

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in Your Office Coach

Q: “Although I have no problem getting job interviews when I send out my résumé, these conversations always end the same way. Interviewers praise my experience, but say they would prefer to hire someone with a college degree. I started this job search two years ago, and it’s the same story everywhere I apply.  

“In ten years with my present company, I have been promoted several times and received glowing reviews. My only reason for leaving is that I’m tired of being paid less than people who have degrees. I don’t have time to go to school, so how do I get around this degree problem?” Qualified Applicant

A: A college degree appears to be a widely accepted standard in your line of work. You’ve been able to rise through the ranks in your own company based solely on ability, but the lack of education puts you at a competitive disadvantage in the larger job market. This may not seem fair, but it’s reality.

Your current problem is largely a matter of supply and demand. If people with degrees were in short supply, then your odds of being hired would be greater. But since today’s tight job market makes more degreed applicants available, you’re facing a lot of competition.

Some interviewers might be satisfied if you were simply enrolled in a degree program, so don’t dismiss the education option too quickly. Many reputable, accredited institutions now provide courses online, and some may even give credit for work experience, so returning to school could be easier than you think.

But if more schooling is unrealistic, then you’ll have to work around that limitation. You might target smaller companies with less rigid employment standards or take on contract projects to demonstrate your value to potential employers. However, if you enjoy your present job, the best solution might be to convince management that your extensive experience warrants a pay increase.

Whatever approach you choose, the bottom line is that after two years of frustration, you should stop beating your head against this brick wall and start looking for ways to go around it.

Do interviews make you nervous? These tips might help: Conquering Interview Anxiety.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Sandi July 22, 2014 at 12:23 pm

I think it was a Dear Abby letter that I read. The person said if they go to school, it will take 10 years to become a Dr. and they’ll be 50 years old by then. Abby replied, you’ll be 50 years old in 10 years whether you go to school or not. I think the same idea applies here.


Simply Greater July 16, 2014 at 5:18 pm

There is always a way to earn your degree, even with a busy schedule. Consider an online degree where you can take one class at a time. If you are truly serious about getting a good job, there are programs out there that can help you get that degree for your resume:


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