If you haven’t had the opportunity to attend college—or you’ve been, but not finished your degree—the employment situation can seem pretty hopeless. It feels like attending a university is the gateway to professional success.
So if you’re not a college grad, what can you do to find work?
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Step 1: Recognize You Are Not Alone
It’s rough out there for non-graduates, but it’s not as uncommon as you might think. About 70% of Americans do not have a college degree. While the rate of educational attainment is on the rise, it’s still much more common for people not to have attended a traditional two or four year program. In Indiana, the number has hovered around 67% for the past decade. So if you’re a Hoosier who only went to high school, you’re not alone.
Step 2: Get Your Resume In Order
Many resumes—especially those of younger people—tend to lean heavily on the college degree. But if your primary background is the “real world”, your piece of paper needs to focus on what you’ve done. List jobs, list volunteer positions, find anything you can that shows your ability to set goals and meet them.
Step 3: Review the Obvious
There are a couple of fields that everyone knows about that do not require college degrees or other training, and you sit down and brainstorm about them before you go further. They are: retail, service/hospitality, warehousing/logistics, and admin/telemarketing. Think through these categories. Picture the businesses near your home. Do any of them fall in any of these categories? Are you interested in checking them out?
Step 4: Consider Training
You can become a electrical technician, a nursing assistant, a drywall installer, a welder, or a personal trainer in a few weeks or less. If you can devote a bit more time, you can attend a computer programming bootcamp, become a hair stylist, an EMT, or a massage therapist. And if you can balance school and work (or go to school for two years), you can be an X-Ray tech, a dental hygienist, a master plumber or more.
Step 5: Network with the Professionals
Sometimes, people who don’t have college degrees can feel like they aren’t “professional” enough to go to networking events or meet with people over coffee to discuss their careers. But a “professional” is simply someone who wants to do good work and get paid for it! So don’t worry about the piece of paper. Get out there, make connections, and find the next opportunity.