Ask A Recruiter: College Degrees, Feedback, and Networking 1 Comment


It’s the “Ask A Recruiter” series on The Talent Buzz.  This post contains 3 questions from job seekers, along with answers from Recruiters.  Job seekers, click here to ask your question.  Recruiters, click here if you want to assist with answering.

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Job seeker question on college degrees:


I am currently unemployed as an Executive Assistant. In my last position, I was earning $50k/yr. I do not have a college degree and never needed one before this economy. What do I tell employers why I do not have a college degree? I seem to be losing out on positions.

  • Employers will know that you do not hold a degree from your resume, so you won’t necessarily have to “tell them” anything. And, many  employers accept “years of experience” in exchange for having a degree.
  • Although you probably have great experience and can do the job, in today market a 4yr degree is more of a filtering mechanism. A 4yr degree is the “golden key” to get in/through the corporate door. Even many small to mid size company’s are looking for more degrees in candidates / new employees. You might consider finding a school that offers a program for working adults, focus on smaller companies for a new role, and continue to network your way to opportunities in the larger companies..

Job seeker question on position match / recruiter feedback:

When I submit a resume, and a few days receive a return message saying, “we are interviewing candidates who are better suited to the position” when my resume is a direct match to job, there is there no further feedback. If there a flaw with my credentials, I need to know what it is. Is there a mechanism for getting valuable feedback from someone to know if I am too much of one thing and not enough of another? It would be great to have some objective feedback and would be welcome as to why some other candidate is better suited than me. I know that there are maybe 200 resumes received for each job, and it is a numbers game. I seek a way to better my chances of being sorted to the “interview” pile vs. the rejects.

  • There are a lot of factors that cause the decline email… An internal candidate could have been identified, the position could have been put on hold, or someone more qualified was identified.  To get feed back and/or inside information, you need to network and build a relationship(s) with people inside the organization.

Job seeker question on contact:

I’ve heard companies get 200 Resume’s on average for each opening. How long would you recommend waiting before reaching out to the Recruiter? Also, do you recommend connecting directly with the hiring manager?

  • I would make sure your resume is as easy to read as possible – make sure any missing dates are accounted for. Don’t let the recruiter ‘wonder’ about anything on your resume, make sure it’s already there for them to see.
  • 200 resumes can be on the low side, it really depends on the position.  If you are sending a resume to a 3rd party recruiter, follow up with a phone call within 24 hours. Acknowledge the recruiter is probably busy but wanted to confirm the recruiter received he resume, any thoughts and/or questions, and what are next steps. However. …do not harass the recruiter every day. You need to give them time to read your resume and figure out where you might “fit” with their opportunities. As far as contacting the hiring manager, yes, do your best to make contact with the hiring manager. Networking is the best way to do this.

Thanks to Jason Yoraway and Sonja McGrew for contributing to “Ask A Recruiter”.

About Jason Buss

Talent HQ’s creator and editor is Recruiting & Diversity Leader, Jason Buss. Talent HQ is a premier online news and information channel for the Recruiting and Human Resources community.

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  • Posted on: Saturday, April 24th, 2010
  • This Post Has 1 Comment

    1. lookingforwork says:

      I am in a similar position as the first job seeker. With more than a decade in my field, and two years of college, but no degree, it’s never been an issue until this recession. I have been told that my resume is impressive due to the increasing levels of responsibility over the years, which is some consolation, I suppose.

      Twice in the last couple of months I have made through extensive interviews with very good feedback about my interview performance, only to be told that they could not consider me further because they didn’t notice until after the fact that I don’t hold a degree and their company policy is unmovable on the issue. At that point, I don’t know what more I can/should say or do to convince them that my experience, skills and intelligence should be enough.

      In one recent case where this scenario occurred, the company didn’t want to meet with me at first because they said I was probably overqualified. The recruiter who works for them convinced them to meet with me anyway, because she felt they would love me and my work ethic, and I was genuinely interested in the scope of the work and the company. They agreed to meet with me, and said afterward that they loved me and I’m very talented, but…they wouldn’t move forward because they didn’t notice until after the interview that I’m not degreed.

      Before I was laid off last year I began studying for an advanced industry certification, which seemed at the time to be the right course to take to add immediate value to my career. I also planned to finish my degree after achieving the certification. However, now that I am looking for work, I cannot afford to switch gears and go back to school just yet. That’s going to take time that I don’t have. I need work and an income to support that effort.

      ANY suggestions on how to handle this particular roadblock is much appreciated!

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