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How Important is having a Degree when Job Hunting?

Help: I don’t have a degree will I ever grow?

Help: I have a degree & I can’t grow was it a waste?


This question comes up at least 2xs a day, job seekers looking for a yes or no response to either motivate them or cause them to feel less than and incapable. The truth is it depends on who you ask. There is a reason why the United States is nick-named “the divided states of America” because there is a compilation of two major parties and a small middle. Each major party represents more than just political views but a thought process that impacts every single functioning market, including the employment market.


I use this analogy frequently, comparing the labor market to the stock market, as the stock market impacts the labor market, and the labor markets pricing structure is based on the same factors that impact the cost of goods, services, and stocks. So here we have it, a country composed of two major schools of thought, each school of thought has the ability to create businesses, each school of thought has a direct impact on the performance of multi-functional markets, in a capitalist society with mild to moderate government regulation. You have some companies that favor education, you have some companies that favor experience, you have some companies that are so competitive and in-demand that they require a mix of both.


The school of thinking possessed by the organizational decision-makers, founders and investors impacts the companies culture which inevitably impacts the type of people who will work for the company and enforce their belief system. Organizations may not come out and directly say that they follow a specific school of thought as it can offend their customers which could risk sales, which would disappoint shareholders & investors. Instead, they demonstrate their school of thought via business practices. It is important to note that an economy built off of free enterprise means that some organizations will not follow the majority, there will always be exceptions, some companies may be started by people who have no idea why historically organizations have majorly favored education, experience, or both. Some companies may be desperate, have extremely high turnover, some companies may hire a person without a degree to perform the same job as someone with a degree only to pay them 15k-20k less, and some companies may not follow the standard communication protocol expected during the vacancy advertising process.


It is safe to say that no one consultant can speak for every company or every situation, instead, advice is given based on statistics, professional experience & well-thought research.


For candidates who desire optimal salaries, optimal appreciation for the work they perform, and the opportunity to grow in their careers, candidates must align themselves with organizations that represent a good “culture fit”. All too often candidates make decisions out of desperation which leaves them misaligned and later resentful of their employers for factors they had complete control over. Just like companies have a choice so do you as the job seeker!


Appropriately analyzing a job description can tell a candidate rather or not the company will value what they bring.


- Bachelor’s Degree

o Either the position is entry-level, doesn’t require a degree or the company is negotiable on the education requirements

- Must-Have a Bachelor’s Degree

o Company values education, may hire you, pay you less and restrict growth

- Bachelor’s Degree Required

o Company values education, may hire you, pay you less and restrict growth

- Bachelor’s Degree Preferred

o Education is preferred but the company recognizes that experience is valuable and would rather have the most qualified candidate over a degreed candidate, and degreed candidates will be given preference

- A combination of education & Experience

o Company will recognize & appreciate unfinished education, typically prefers unfinished, in-progress education, but will make exceptions for the right fight

- Bachelor’s degree or X amount of years of directly related experience

o Company recognizes that experience can be equivalent to education

- No education requirement listed

o Company values experience over education but will accept candidates from both candidate pool


Companies have the right to set expectations and standards to best meet their long-term goals and to best serve their customers. Instead of being upset about why your career journey is not working out in your favor consider aligning yourself with organizations that value the career profile you have worked hard to build.


Educated candidates need to target positions in the degree preferred, must have or required category, taking head to the types of companies, fields, industries & titles the degreed positions are aligned with in order to maximize return on investment.


Likewise, non-degreed candidates should target roles in the combination of education & experience, bachelor’s degree, no education requirement listed category & pay close attention to the types of companies, fields, industries & titles the degreed positions are aligned with to maximize return on investment.


It is not just about landing a job, it’s about landing a position at a company that will value you as pay is directly related to valuation and salary.


Moreover, it is also about landing a position that will afford you growth! If the company does not value your education or experience growth such as raises and promotions will be hard to come by which will land you either stuck or unemployed again.


The bottom line is having a degree or not having a degree isn’t the factor that determines how successful you will be in your career. Aligning yourself with companies that value what you have to offer is what matters the most.



Leave a comment if you would like to see a list of companies that value education vs companies that value experience!


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