Career Column: Lack Of A College Degree

An IT executive whose company's future is in jeopardy wants to explore other opportunities, but fears his lack of a college degree will hurt him. Careers expert Dave Opton offers his advice.


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Posted August 30, 2002

Dave Opton

Executive career advice from Dave Opton, founder of ExecuNet.

Dear Dave:

I've had great success climbing the corporate ladder for over 15 years at my current organization, but in the wake of some bad financial news the company's future is now in doubt. Instead of waiting for more bad news, I've decided to start searching for new opportunities. While I'm ready to make a move, I'm concerned about searching for a senior management position because I don't have a college degree. Any thoughts on what I might encounter?

Scott B.


The keys to overcoming any objections a potential employer may have to your educational background are 1) realizing a bias may exist during the screening and interview, and 2) carefully crafting key messages that will help you overcome potential stereotypes.

More executive career advice
How To Handle 'Behavioral Interviews': Learn how to better answer those tough questions about "real-life" job experiences.

Leveraging Outplacement Support: Don't wait until the axe falls; proactively seeking outplacement support.

Handling The 'Salary Requirements' Question : Some tips on how -- and when -- to discuss the all-important salary question.

Tips For Successful Job Interviews: Shake the rust off those interviewing skills.

Follow-up Calls To Recruiters: Tips for executives on improving their relationships with recruiters.

Can Job-Hopping Hurt Your Chances?: Learn to put the best face on a "busy" career now that the job market has slowed down.

If you believe that you are "qualified" for a specific position based on your knowledge and experience -- you should pursue it -- regardless of whether you meet the degree requirement or not. Throughout this pursuit, be aware of any potential objections the employer may have and be prepared to overcome these obstacles by successfully marketing your value.

Hope this is helpful.


Dave Opton is CEO and Founder of ExecuNet, an online career services center for executives. Questions can be sent to Dave at deardave@execunet.com, he can't answer each individually but look for yours in an upcoming column.

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