But I Don’t Have A Degree

But I Don’t Have A Degree

Every week people tell me that they are not getting interviews because they don’t have a college degree. Degrees are great, but to hiring managers, experience counts more. So how do you get around this obstacle?

Let’s look at how resumes are handled when they are received for advertised jobs. All resumes go through a first screening. Usually an HR staff member, or even the administrative assistant will look through the resumes using a checklist they’ve been handed. Generally the list has such things as 4-year degree, 5+ years of experience, etc. These folks are NOT decision makers and often have no idea about the specifics of the job, just that all resumes must pass these tests. So even if you’re Bill Gates (who doesn’t have a degree), you won’t get past these gatekeepers. Some companies will scan the resume into an internal database and keyword filters will screen out those without degrees. So clearly this is not the path you want your resume to take.

What you need to do is get to the decision maker and avoid the HR screening process. Find out who the hiring manager or key influencers are. There are a number of ways to do this, and with a little imagination and effort, it isn’t hard to do. Once you have their name and phone number give them a call and say something like: “A friend told me you might be interested in someone with my background. I have (insert your 2-sentence pitch), and I have just a few questions for you.”
Then ask them some questions that show you’ve done some homework on their company. Be very friendly, down to earth and personable and get into a conversation with them. At some point they will ask you for your resume at which point you have now put yourself at the top of the decision maker’s pile and skipped the HR screeners.

So in summary, you:

1. Get the name and number of the decision maker
2. Develop a 2-sentence pitch that positions you appropriately for the job (a whole other topic)
3. Research the company and get a feeling for what some of the challenges someone in this position would face.
4. Call them and get into a conversation
5. Send them the resume

Lastly, and very important, ask politely if they would mind if you checked back in a week to see how their search was progressing. Using this trick takes the emphasis off of your lack of a degree, and can be the difference between being screened out and getting noticed.