7 Things Employers Care About More Than Your Degree

A college education is a wonderful asset. You get a foundation on which you can build a great career, life experiences, and friendships that can last a lifetime. However, a degree is not the be-all and end-all of what makes you an ideal job candidate. Employers are looking for other key factors that separate you from the crowd.

1. Hands-on experience

There is a world of difference between college experience and real world experience. As it was so profoundly put in The Secret of my Success, it comes down to this: "What you've got is college experience, not the practical, hard-nosed business experience we're looking for."

Education is great, but it doesn't compare to being in the trenches, and employers know that. If you've got years of experience under your belt, it can often take the place of a degree or other form of education. And, it means you have references from people in the industry. This is by far the best way to separate yourself from the competition.

2. Ability to solve problems

It doesn't matter whether you have an office job, work in a garage, or are out in the fields every day. Whatever your chosen career, you are going to encounter problems; it's a daily part of every job. How you handle those situations will hold you in good stead, and problem solvers are highly prized.

Do you think laterally? Can you condense the problem into key issues that should be addressed? Do you take charge when faced with a challenge? If you can hold your head up high and demonstrate your ability to solve problems quickly and effectively, your future employer will find you very hirable.

3. Communication skills

Directly related to problem solving, how well you communicate can be just as important as what you're communicating. It's no good having a great solution to a problem if you're afraid to speak up, or find yourself unable to distill your thoughts into actionable directions. Someone who can communicate well, and in a way that motivates and produces results, is a great asset to any employer.

4. Collaboration skills

Loners tend not to do well in most jobs. Sure, there are a few exceptions here or there, but for the most part, you must be able to work well as part of a team. In fact, one of the keywords you'll see most frequently listed in job postings is "team player." Employers want candidates who can quickly and easily become part of a team, even if individuals in the group have clear differences. A candidate that can put aside those differences to produce a great team effort is worth their weight in gold.

5. Work-related achievements

Think about what achievements you can use as a plus during your application and hiring process. Have you written a successful blog or book about the industry? Are you a guest speaker at industry-related events? Have you appeared on television or radio? Have you won any industry awards?

Any and all of these things can go a long way to getting you hired, and are often far more valuable than a degree. It shows that you know your stuff and know it well. Don't be afraid to list your achievements, even if they're not directly related to the job. They still count, and they have cachet.

6. Volunteer work

Charitable endeavors can do a lot to highlight the kind of person you are, and employers love seeing this on a resume. First and foremost, it's a sacrifice of personal time to do something for the greater good, and that says a lot about your character. The kinds of charities you work for can also sway the employer even more.

For example, while volunteering at an animal shelter is great, helping people in need, like military veterans, will hold a little more value. How long you have been volunteering is also important. If you have been at it for 10 years, despite a poor economy and changing jobs a few times, it shows real dedication. And of course, you will get excellent references from anywhere you volunteer for, which leads to the final point.

7. Awesome references

The old saying "It's not what you know, it's who you know" is directly applicable to your career. In fact, many people climb the corporate ladder with great speed due to knowing the right people, regardless of skills or accomplishments.

For example, let's say you're in the film industry, and you have no formal education in video production, editing, sound, or any of the other required skills. The employer will obviously overlook all of that if you have a reference from Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, or Martin Scorsese. This is, of course, an extreme example. But if you have references from well-respected professionals in the industry, you're golden.

When it comes to getting a job, you need to use every advantage you have; especially if you do not have the "right" kind of education for the position. But if you're smart and inventive, you can still get the job without the diploma. Good luck.

Like this article? Pin it!

Have a job interview coming up? We’ve got the key factors that employers are looking for other than your degree! #careeradvice #interviewtips #jobinterview

Average: 3.3 (41 votes)
Your rating: None

Disclaimer: The links and mentions on this site may be affiliate links. But they do not affect the actual opinions and recommendations of the authors.

Wise Bread is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.