In today’s education-saturated generation where we’re told that “an Associates degree is the new high school diploma”, it can feel a little discouraging for those of us who took the path less traveled after walking the stage at our high school graduation.We get older and our peers get degrees, making us feel like we might’ve missed our window in life to become what we truly wanted.
If that’s you, I’m here to tell you: you didn’t. With hard work and a strong commitment to building my future, in just two years I have not only obtained my dream position (my company’s office in Downtown Dallas pictured below), but I’ve doubled my salary along the way.
Here are top tips to scoring your dream job without a degree:
1. Be willing to start at the bottom
If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s how much employers love relevant experience. Find the bottom of the totem pole in your desired field, and treat it like the internship of a lifetime. Even if you don’t see yourself in that position long term, look at it as your ticket to the top and learn as much as you possibly can.
2. Use your resources
The fact that you’re reading this article already tells me that you know this one. Good for you! There is so much informational available to us through the Internet- use it. Study up on your desired field; research terminology and logistics, familiarize yourself with companies in the industry, and determine what your end goal is and how to get there.
3. Have the best damn resume they’ve ever seen
Pay a professional to do your resume for you. No, seriously- do it. Unless you have a killer template filled with a page of information that makes you look like the best on-paper version of yourself possible, this is a must. You won’t get in front of an interviewer without a well done resume, and fortunately for you, this is a step that most people miss. This is your opportunity to set yourself apart from the get go- your resume is your golden ticket.
4. Always have something to list under “Education”
So you don’t have a degree- that’s okay! You are smart, you are driven, you are confident. You got this, friend. But as we talked about in #3, employers won’t get to know that about you unless you get brought in for an interview. So take some college classes, get certified in something relevant to your desired position, take Microsoft Office courses, anything to show that you are proactively pursuing further education. I have less than a full semester’s worth of college credits under my belt, and set up my resume in such a way that it hit on the fact that I had been to college rather than weighed on the fact that I only had 9 credits. This is what got me an interview at my current job, which brings me to…
5. Apply for jobs you aren’t qualified for
The way that I obtained the position I have today is by submitting my resume to every position in my desired field that didn’t require a Masters degree or above. My predecessor held a business degree from a prestigious university, and I never would’ve thought that my qualifications would’ve suited the position. But once I got in front of them, it was my job to make them realize what I could bring to the table, and it worked! Which leads me to address my last point:
6. Don’t sell yourself short
You know how it goes- after you’ve been called in for an interview, your nerves will be through the roof. Deep breath- you’re going to do great! Be prepared to address the fact that you don’t have a degree. In my interview for my current job, I eloquently spun it into an advantage by saying that my lack of a college education drove me to work harder so that I could prove myself to anyone who took a chance on me. Obviously this tactic worked out, as I now have a dream position that I never would’ve imagined obtaining without a college degree!
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