Question: I've been with the same company for 10 years and I'm ready to make a change. All the jobs I see online that I want are asking for a degree. I never went to college. I needed to go to work straight out of high school to help my family. Is there anything I can say in the cover letter or on my resume to convince them to interview me? I'm very hard working and successful. How do I prove my experience is better than the degree?"
Humans hire humans. They look for the right combination of three things: personality, aptitude
, and experience. Digital application scanners can't measure the first two. Which means, if you want to off-set the fact you don't have the exact qualifications, you'll need to connect with a human related to the hiring process to show them what you lack in skills you make up for in other ways.
Tip #1: Find 5 people on LinkedIn that work at the employer.
See if you are indirectly connected via friends, family and colleagues and ask for an introduction. If not, customize your connection request and see if they'd be willing to speak to you so you can learn more about the company and what it might take to get hired if you don't have the exact skills needed.
Tip #2: Get involved in more in-person networking groups.
Join local associations. Volunteer to run group networking events. Offer to give a short training or presentation on a subject in your field of expertise. The more you can engage fellow professionals in a way that naturally showcases your knowledge and experience, the more likely you'll get recommended to people who can help you get past the online gatekeepers.
Step 3: Put together a targeted Career Buddy group.
Unlike big job seeker groups that can become more grief support in nature and feel less productive, a Career Buddy group is a collection of 3-5 people at your age/skill level that are looking for work. You meet weekly and spend time reviewing one others connections to determine how you can facilitate introductions for one another. By concentrating your efforts, each member of the group knows they will get some good results. Plus, when the group is smaller, you can really hold each other accountable and help each other stay motivated when dealing with the challenges of not meeting typical job requirements.