Having a degree in the workplace and work search


Good day and Happy Monday (or one of the other 6 weekly options depending upon when you are finding this bit of text groupings).

A topic I have debated with friends and colleagues over the years is about having or not having a college degree. Associates, bachelors, masters, doctorates, exalted ruler of the universe, cult leader and there are others I’m sure. The reason the topic is even a discussion point is that I often find myself keeping tabs on the job market. After going through a company outsource in 2009 that resulted in me and everyone in my department losing our jobs and then again this year with a new company going through the outsource I survived the cuts but almost three dozen of my co-workers were not so fortunate (they called it insourcing as they hired staff overseas to be actual company employees but at about one-third of the cost to the company).

So with an eye on similar skills and job titles through websites like LinkedIn.com and Indeed.com I have been browsing job postings quite a bit along with reaching out to some recruiters I have had success with in the past. Some companies seem to be a little more flexible and value work experience in lieu of college credits. The reason why this is important to me is…I do not have a college degree. No degree at all. I went to college about 20 years ago and took all the usual supporting classes for any general degree: English, history, technical math, weight training, business writing, and whatever else that went with my associates path towards an electronics major and later computers before I lost interest in school and left to focus on working and not be a student anymore.

Don’t get me wrong I don’t have anything against people being students or having the time, focus and resources to pursue degrees and enrich themselves with concepts and ideas and knowledge that my brain would just lose like a picture on an Etch-A-Sketch held by a four year old child hopped up on chocolate milk, sugar cookies and three king sized Twix candy bars. The world needs people who can absorb medical terms and conditions and logically overlay that 10,000 times. Same for computer programmers and electronics designers (I need my Google, damn it!) and a zillion other vital professions that support today’s ridiculously fast technology dependent world.

But steering this back to how it applies to myself, like I said I do not have a degree. However, I have worked in and around the credit-finance arena for roughly 20 years and each stop along the way I have had to learn new computer systems, new filing systems, varying jargon, an array of reports, how to set up meetings, how to delegate workflow, how to fire someone for no reason other than the company could not afford them, and a million other checklist items that each company teaches you once you agree to what they are willing to offer in a paycheck and benefits in exchange for your skill set, education and experience. Most of the job opportunities I am pursuing are more mid range in scope. Not entry level but not senior management either. Front line credit analyst which is more along the lines of customer service with research base flavored with negotiator (read good communicator and problem solver).

As I look for the perfect job that will rope in all that I have to offer I have a few less corners to look in as their job postings require a bachelors degree (they don’t even care if the degree is in the same field of expertise – you can be a classical music major applying for an accounting position – as long as you have that piece of paper its good to go). I understand part of the rationale of requiring a degree – its to reduce the response for smaller human resources departments. If you have a posting that will apply to a skill set that is plentiful in a job market you will get instantly inundated with responses from everyone who has ever opened a spreadsheet. So I get that they are hedging their bets and in the process may get a higher quality of response that they can whittle down faster.

Alas I am still diligent in my searching and ultimately I think what has worked in the past will most likely prevail again this time. Networking. Getting opportunities from people I know through softball or I have worked directly with in the past and know my work ethic. There have been many times I’ve had a previous co-worker that I may not have clicked with or was not buddy buddy with who contacts me out of the blue after they have moved to a new company to relay an opportunity that might be a fit for me. Not to mention the co-workers whom I have clicked with and developed a good relationship with who also keep me at the forefront when they learn of something position knowing my situation is tenuous.

So the search for tomorrow (that might be an old daytime soap reference) goes on. Happy Monday to all with red Swingline staplers and nine different bosses to please. I’ll not jump to any conclusions about your preference to subscribe to the magazine Vibe or not. Hold on, PC Load Letter…WTF does that mean?

Peace and warmth.

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