How to Get a Job Without A Bachelor's Degree

Image by Shutterstock
Image by Shutterstock

Welcome to the "AOL Career Luck Project." Inspired by you, our readers, this new weekly series offers practical advice by showcasing real-life examples of career makeovers. Learn to create your own career luck using the tips and techniques given to project participants. Every Thursday.

Meet Tim.

He served in our military and then took advantage of the GI Bill. But, because Tim wanted to get working, he opted for an Associate's Degree. He landed a job upon graduating. Then, after years of working for the same company, got laid-off.

He's since moved to a new city to be closer to family, but is finding it impossible to get a job. Why? Almost every job posting he feels qualified for has "Bachelor's Degree Required" listed in it. The result has been no interviews - and definitely no job offers.

Is it "back to school" for Tim? Not necessarily.

Tim specializes in Supply Chain Management. He has done a lot of continuing education in the form of courses and certifications. Also, his experience and level of position at his last job indicate he is more than capable of doing the work. Truthfully, the Bachelor's Degree most likely wouldn't teach him anything new. It just might make getting employers to pay attention to his online applications a bit easier, here's why...

ATS: The ultimate robo-recruiter. (And, that's a bad thing!)

ATS (applicant tracking systems) are used by many companies today. Especially, by larger businesses that hire for Tim's skill set. The corporate recruiters simply put in a set of criteria they are looking for (i.e. Bachelor's Degree), and then, as the applications come in, the ATS automatically screens out the ones that aren't a 100% match in skills and keywords. This means at least 8 out of 10 times, Tim's application is never even being seen by a human eye. All that time he spends applying online? It's a waste.

Career L.U.C.K. = Get past ATS with a little strategic networking!

There is something Tim can do to create his own career L.U.C.K. - watch the video below to learn how he can go around the ATS and find the best way to get hired without a Bachelor's degree.

Career Luck Project: How to Get a Job Without A Bachelor's Degree
Career Luck Project: How to Get a Job Without A Bachelor's Degree

Here's what Tim needs to do:

Locate the Problem - Tim has several problems. To recap, first, he has moved to a new city and has no existing professional network to leverage. Second, with only an Associate's Degree, he will automatically get eliminated by ATS, making online applications a near useless method for him to find a job. Finally, because he is currently unemployed, employers in the new city will naturally discriminate against him. Tim has to find a way to network with people directly so they can get to know him and see his true potential.

Uncover the Issues - Since applying online hasn't worked and Tim has no network to tap into, he is feeling as if he can only apply to jobs that will accept him with his Associate's Degree. This:

A) Limits his options severely.
B) Makes Tim feel bad about himself and his ability to get hired.

In short, Tim is experiencing a crisis of confidence and is frustrated to think that all his hard work, both in the military, and on the job after he got his degree were for nothing. That hurts his ability to put forth the kind of effort he'll need to get a new job. As months pass, if something doesn't change, Tim will find it harder to motivate himself to look for work. (This article shows how crisis of confidence can deeply affect your ability to succeed in your career.)

Create New Plan - Tim needs to go around the ATS. To start, he must do his homework and find companies in the area that hire for his skill set. We call this a "bucket list" - and it's the single best way to focus a job search so you can get real results. Next, Tim will leverage several aspects of his situation that will encourage people to want to network with him. In this case, the fact that he is a veteran and new to the area will enable him to make use of the "Welcome Wagon Effect." This is when professionals go out of their way to offer to help fellow professionals who are new to the area. Tim will use this approach to connect with people in his chosen field of Supply Chain Management that work at the companies on his bucket list. That way, he can ask them first-hand what it takes to get hired by their companies with only an Associate's Degree.

Know Your Next Steps - To keep Tim on task, I suggest he start with a total of 10 companies on his bucket list. He should find the top firms in the area and be able to back up with facts why they earned a spot on his list. Then, he'll research five employees at each company for him to target his outreach to. Using LinkedIn, Tim will be able to customize his requests to connect, using the information he gained while researching each firm and their employees. This will statistically increase the chances they will accept his connection requests. Once they accept, Tim can follow up with an email seeking an opportunity to either chat with them by phone or exchange emails so he can get their guidance and perspective on what they think it takes to eventually earn a position with their employer. (This article offers step-by-step process for creating your own bucket list and the right way to ask for informational interviews.)

NOTE: He will not ask them for a job, or to refer him to one. Tim is simply asking for information that will empower him to customize his approach when applying to these companies in the future. However, by establishing a relationship with existing employees, Tim can hopefully leverage that down the line. Over 80 percent of all jobs are gotten via referral. So, to improve your chances of getting hired, it only makes sense to network with people who have jobs at the companies you want to work for!

Lesson learned? Remove the online roadblock!

If you are like Tim and don't have the degree, or perhaps other skills and experience listed on a job requirement, the chances you'll get hired when applying online are slim. The solution is to use the technique above to go around the process. It's the only way you can get the employer to overlook the criteria the set and realize you have the ability to do the job!

> Find a job with a military background