"I am 52 years old with no college degree, but plenty of work experience. The biggest challenge I have always faced in a career move is getting to the next step. I think I am equal or superior in talent and ability to others, but feel my lack of degree has kept the doors firmly locked. Any advice?"
I get a question like this a lot. There are many older workers without college degrees who have plenty of work experience, proven job stability, and a very strong work ethic, but have trouble advancing. Many companies have policies stating that a college degree is required, and applicants without one should not bother applying.
So, what can they do about this?
First, recognize you are not alone. According to a study conducted by the Chronicle of Higher Education, only 27.5 percent of adults in the United States have a degree. Yet, nearly 60 percent of American jobs now require at least a bachelor's degree, according to a 2010 report released by the Center on Education and the Workforce, and this number is expected to grow in the next decade. There are things those individuals can do to show their worth to the marketplace.
If possible, work with a professional career coach to review your resume, dress, interviewing skills, etc. This may be money well spent if you get valuable feedback, especially if it has been a while since you were on the job market.
Your resume is a critical part of getting that next job. There are a number of things to do to make sure it stands out:
First, update your work history, and consider using a form of resume that provides a summary of your qualifications at the top of the first page. There are lots of resources out there for resume preparation (e.g., "Knock 'Em Dead Resumes") and websites with examples (e.g., www.monster.com, www.careerbuilder.com, www.greatresumesfast.com).