Find your dream job? Don’t have the “right” degree? Apply anyway!

Let me know if this sounds familiar — you’re scrolling through LinkedIn when you stumble upon a job that looks perfect for you! It’s exciting, aligns exactly with your career plan, and is something you’re definitely qualified for — except you’re not. You don’t have the recommended or required degree.

What do you do in this scenario? Most give up on applying and spend time regretting their college major choices. However, there is a better way to address opportunities requiring different degrees — apply anyway!

Why You Should Apply

Like resumes, job descriptions are brief and designed to simply give an overview of the open position. Just like job-seekers must highlight only certain aspects of their careers on their resumes, employers can’t provide every detail abiu the job on the job posting. It’s certainly possible that the department or manager might be willing to accept someone with a great deal of experience and no official degree. However, there simply isn’t enough room to explain this on the job posting. Also, the employer wants to attract large numbers of qualified personnel. Simply stating that a degree is required is often the easiest way to do this.

How You Should Apply

Thanks to applicant tracking systems (ATS) applying for a job that requests a specific degree of certification when you don’t have one can be tricky. However, if you use these three tips, you’ll be more likely to get through the virtual gatekeeper.

  1. List any certifications, coursework, or classes you do have — even if they’re not complete. Sometimes, ATS are simply looking for certain keywords, and by including partially completed coursework, you are more likely to also include those keywords. Additionally, educational experience is like job experience. It’s often transferrable. An employer may not see the required degree, but perhaps that employer sees similar coursework. This could be enough to get you the interview.
  2. Take a few courses online. Of course, you probably won’t complete a Bachelor’s Degree in few days, but you can reasonably log on and complete a few courses aimed at specific areas of the job description in a few hours. For example, if the employer requests familiarity with a software program — such as Excel — that you aren’t as proficient in as you would like, take a quick online Excel class, and list that on your resume. This not only provides a keyword boost, but it shows that you are dedicated to advancing your skillset.
  3. Include a cover letter that directly addresses your qualifications. While there are many tips and tricks you can use on a resume to highlight work over educational experience, a cover letter is often more effective because you can write a narrative. I suggest addressing your lack of degree, explaining why your experience and/or education compensates for it, and moving on to highlight other qualifications. Address issue, but don’t dwell on it.

What You Should Do If You Don’t Get An Interview / Offer

I DO suggest you apply for the job you want, even if you don’t quite meet the credentials. I DON’T guarantee you will get the interview or an offer. But even if you don’t get a call or an offer, you can use the situation to follow up and figure out how you might start climbing the ladder to eventually land the position you want.

If you’re interested in applying for a position, but you don’t have the recommended degree, feel free to schedule a free consultation so we can talk through a strategy!