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Talking Around Education Obstacles in a Job Interview

If you must address your lack of required education in a job interview, discuss your experience and skills as education. Mention experience-based knowledge and skills, for instance, and redirect the conversation to your self-teaching efforts. Assure the interviewer that your degree-less state does not affect your ability to do the job well. Use specific examples from your experience to prove it.

Using experience as education won’t change anyone’s mind when the education requirement is rigid — as it is in health fields, for example. But it may keep your candidacy afloat when an educational requirement is simply a convenient screening device.

You have at your disposal three more strategies that don’t require returning to school:

  • Persevere: Continue interviewing at companies too small to operate a human resource department. HR staffers are paid to exclude applicants who miss job criteria, including education.

  • Work short-term: Seek staffing firms that will send you on temporary or contract assignments so that employers can see how good you are and offer you a regular-status job.

  • Network: Try an online career network, such as LinkedIn.com to find a contact within your target company who will see that you’re interviewed by a hiring manager. The hiring manager is advised that you are so talented that your experience is more than equivalent to a degree.

Although some job seekers may seem to get away with it (usually temporarily), don't be tempted to lie about your education in order to get the job you want. Google and other search engines make it much easier these days to access reams of public records — including education records.

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