How do you get a job when it says college degree required and you don’t have a degree?

This is always one of the top questions we get from people that are just beginning their Degree Free journey.

There are so many jobs out there that say "college degree required". You may feel discouraged or defeated when looking at your future job prospects. You may ask yourself: “How am I supposed to get the job when it says college degree required and I don’t have a degree?”

The most common answer that we hear is to go and get a degree.

We can’t emphasize enough, this should be your last option! Not your first.

In this blog post, we’ll tell you exactly what you should do to deal with those job postings that "require" a degree when you don’t have one.

Spoiler: It’s simpler than you think!

We also talk about this topic in depth on our podcast episode College Degree NOT Required.

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Don’t Self Eliminate

The biggest problem we see with job seekers that are starting to apply to jobs is self elimination. If jobs postings say they require college degrees and they don’t have one, they just won’t apply.

That’s crazy!

As Wayne Gretzky and Michael Scott said "You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take."

Don’t self eliminate. Apply fearlessly.

If you don’t have a college degree but you think you qualify for the job, just apply anyway! Let the company tell you that you’re not qualified. Let the company tell you that they don’t want to hire you. Don’t do it for them.

Apply Fearlessly

Applying to jobs and putting yourself out there for rejection is tough. It only gets harder as time goes on and the rejections start rolling in.

A lot of people are afraid of 2 things:

Let’s break these 2 down.

Being a Rule Breaker

When we tell people to apply fearlessly and apply for jobs that they feel they may not be “qualified” for or where they don’t have a degree and it says “degree required”, a lot of people are shocked.

The typical response is: “I can’t do that. I don’t want to break the rules.” Most people believe if you break the rules of the job listing, then you will not be considered for the job.

The thing is: if you don’t apply they’re not going to consider you for the job anyway!

Just apply anyway.

There are no rules. This is important, so we’ll repeat it: THERE ARE NO RULES!

Don’t worry about breaking some sort of unwritten rule when applying because there are none. The company doesn’t care about whether you have a degree. They want someone who can provide value and succeed in the role.

There’s always push-back when we say the company doesn’t care about degrees. OK. Let’s assume that they do care. What has changed?

You still don’t have a degree. They’re still not going to hire you (even though we know they’re making a huge mistake). We’ve arrived at the same place.

Overcoming Rejection

Rejection is one of the number 1 fears that all people have. Humans are social animals and want to be accepted by the group. Unfortunately, in the job hunt process you’re going to be dealing with a lot of rejection. It’s just the name of the game.

We have an entire podcast episode dedicated to dealing with rejection, but we’ll highlight some of the major points here.

Knowing the Numbers

On average it takes 100 applications to get 1 interview. That’s a lot of applications. That’s also a lot of rejection.

Accept it as Reality

Now that you know the numbers, you see that getting rejected is going to happen. And it’s going to happen a lot.

Knowing that is half the battle. Know that once you start applying you’re probably going to be receiving a lot more rejection letters than interview requests.

It Only Takes One

It only takes one company to tell you yes. You might apply to 300 jobs and hear no 299 times. But, it only takes 1 yes for all that effort to be worth it.

As we said earlier, if you want to hear more about it how to handle rejection check out our podcast episode on it.

Rejection is a necessary part of the job hunting process. Keep in mind that it will happen. You’re not worth less because you get rejected. Keep going and keep applying!

You Are Qualified

Don’t allow one line on the job listing: “College Degree Required” to make you feel like you’re not qualified.

If you know you can do the job but it says they want someone with a college degree, don’t get down on yourself. And don't withhold your application.

You are qualified. Apply anyway!

If they offer you the job, you’ll know you were right. If you never hear from the job, you’re in the same position that you’re in now.

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

The 3 Most Common Excuses

Once we’ve told people they should be applying fearlessly even if they don’t have a college degree, we hear a lot of excuses.

In anticipation of that, let’s highlight the 3 most common excuses we hear about why you shouldn’t apply anyway and address these concerns.

They’re not going to look at my application anyway

Let them decide that. If you don’t apply they’re definitely not going to look at your application. This is the problem with self elimination. You’re not letting them turn you down.

The Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is going to filter it before I’m considered

Once again, this is something you can’t control. If their system filters you out, then it filters you out. But, how are you supposed to know that before you’ve applied? The answer: you can’t. Apply anyway!

A note: While many larger companies do use ATS, not all of them do. A lot of smaller companies still do not utilize ATS as it’s expensive and they may not want to eliminate candidates. Just because a company does use ATS doesn’t mean you know what their filters are. So, once again. Apply anyway!

They’re obviously not looking for me. They want someone with a college degree.

That company wants their role filled. They want someone to provide value and succeed in that role. That’s what the company wants.

As you’ve probably guessed, what do you do in this situation? That’s right: apply anyway!

You don’t know what the company wants or doesn’t want. That job description and job listing could’ve been copied and pasted for years and they haven’t gotten around to deleting the degree requirement. (This happens at a lot of companies!)

If they truly care about college degrees, then you’re not working there. And you’re still in the same boat you were in originally.

All the excuses lead to the same answer: apply anyway!

What else can you do to get over the degree “requirement”?

As we’ve been discussing this whole time, the most important thing you need to be doing is applying fearlessly!

There are still more things you can do to improve your chances of getting hired.

Focus on the Skills You Have

Don’t focus on the skills or credentials you don’t have. Instead focus on the ones you do have.

Instead of saying, “I don’t have a college degree.” you should focus on how your experience and knowledge can bring value to the company in that position.

Frame your past experience in a way that makes it easy for the hiring manager to connect the dots on why you’re a good hire.

Skill Up

If you’re looking at job listings that require a certain skill and you don’t have it, look into how you can learn that skill.

Learning and acquiring new skills is a great way to show future employers that you are constantly working towards improving yourself.

Gaining those new skills can make you a much more appealing candidate when it’s time to review your application.

Conclusion

Slowly, the degree requirements for jobs are coming down. Companies are starting to realize what you’ve known forever. A degree doesn’t qualify you for a job.

Until it becomes more widespread the most important thing you can do is to keep applying.

Remember, the most damaging thing you can do to yourself in the job hunt process is to self eliminate. If you think you can do the job or even if you feel like you can LEARN the job, you should apply anyway.

You’re definitely not going to get the job if you don’t apply for it.

Apply fearlessly!

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