College was the default word of every parent and high school counselor when they talked about what you were going to do after high school. A degree shows two things—you can learn and you have learned a lot about a specific subject. However, you also earn an education through your years of employment and living life. So, what do you do when you don’t have a college degree? Impress the employer with your work history, experiences, certifications, volunteerism etc… show them you know how to perform the job duties.
As a former hiring agent, I can tell you that applications that present, first, a neat resume, second, a roster of long-term employment, and, third, a capacity for learning new things are resumes that get top billing. A degree is great if you have it, but there is a world of other opportunities to show your ambition, accomplishments, and aptitude.
You can add certifications and/or credentials to your resume through activities, such as:
- Conferences that you attend and, even better, where you presented
- MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses – unlimited participation and open access via the web)
- CEUs (Continuing Education Credits toward certifications)
- On-the-job training
- Other local public events
You can find events through places, such as:
- Public libraries
- Facebook groups for local events, like The Art of Business Planning workshop I took that was a combined effort of the local Arts Council and the university’s College of Business
- Subscriptions to local-oriented print or digital publications
The web is a world of easily accessed learning opportunities. Forbes provides an article of The Top 7 Websites For Free Online Education. Financially strapped? Try one of lifehack.org 25 Killer Sites for Free Online Education.
Also, consider LinkedIn skill assessments!! Easy to do on a lunch hour! Forbes talks about hiring managers’ use of them in LinkedIn Just Added A New Way to Showcase Your Skills.
How do you find the time for all this if you are employed? Present a neat proposal to your manager that includes event details, such as, when, where, how much, and, most importantly, how you’re taking the online course or attending the conference benefits the company’s missions, values, and/or goals. Follow up with a meeting to impress him or her with your enthusiasm for the opportunity. Doing this also proves you are a team leader or deserve a promotion.
Whether on or off the job, remember to keep track of all your experiences, including event title, hosting organizations, type of event, any certificates or CEUs, and especially dates. It is easy to forget the details of something that occurred months or years ago. It is important to keep your resume and LinkedIn profile up to date, regardless of your employment status. When you need that next job or promotion, your education documentation is at your fingertips the moment you need it for your resume.
Whether or not you have a degree, continuing education is vital to staying on top of the latest trends, pedagogy, formulas, theories etc…and the best part– you can finally tailor your education to fit your career goals!