How to Discuss Skills Over Schooling in an Interview in 2019

As of 2019, the United States has one of the lowest unemployment rates in history. Having a low unemployment rate has many benefits, including a surprising number of benefits for current job seekers.

Many job seekers worry about the low unemployment rate. In their minds, the low unemployment rate means there are not as many jobs available, making it harder to find work overall. While this is true, it is balanced out by the fact having a low unemployment rate changes the way businesses look at potential employees.

With low unemployment rates, there are not as many applicants applying for jobs. As a result, many hiring managers are making changes to their usual qualifications, with one of the biggest changes being educational requirements. Under the old system, these jobs required a certain level of schooling before you could apply. One of the growing trends in 2019 is placing more importance on workplace experience versus education requirements. Jobs which previously required a strict academic background to apply for are now accepting previous work experience as a requirement instead. If you are looking for a job in 2019, it is important to learn how to discuss skill over schooling during a job interview.

Skills Involve Learning

Applicants who have not attended college try to avoid bringing up education discussions during a job interview. Avoiding education altogether looks suspicious, since it gives the impression you are trying to hide something. Just because you do not have a degree does not mean you have not learned anything. Many workers go to college to learn the skills necessary for the workforce. If you were already in the workforce, you learned from your experiences.

In 2019, many hiring managers are reconsidering the value of practical workplace experience over getting a degree. In most jobs, the majority of what you need to know can be learned on the workforce. There are some specialty jobs you specifically need a degree for, but these jobs are few and far between, especially in the 2019 job market.

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When you discuss your previous workplace experience, take the time to explain everything you learned from your previous job. Highlight key projects you worked on where you learned how to manage a team. Discuss how taking additional workplace responsibilities taught you more about the job, like how to file progress reports or how to negotiate with clients. The skills you are describing represent the knowledge other students have from their college degree. The advantage you have is you have already used your skills in a practical setting, while many college students have only ever displayed those same skills in a school setting.

Your Skills Tell a Story

When you prioritize your work skills over an education, your resume tells a story about who you are as a person. Employers can look directly at your previous work experience and get a feel for the kind of jobs with which you are comfortable. When you only have a degree, you are a blank slate. Hiring managers can guess your general interests based on your degree, but this is not the same as looking at workplace skills. Many hiring managers think about the future while looking through resumes. If you are the type of employee who has other skills, such as customer service or experience as a manager, you are more likely to get a job. This is because hiring managers can map out a career path for you based on your skills and interest. Companies prefer to promote employees from within, so hiring managers prioritize employees with other identifiable skills.

Applicants with a varied work history are also easier to interview. Many of the questions hiring managers ask are about your past work history. There are some general questions that apply to applicants who only have educational information listed, but these questions are not as valuable to hiring managers.

Know What you are Capable Of

One of the biggest advantages when comparing workplace skills to a degree is you can confidently state that you know what you are doing. Performing a task in a classroom under the tutelage of a professor is not the same as performing a task on the job. In the classroom, there is a safety net. If you do poorly on a project at school, you can improve your grade by doing well on your tests or doing extra credit work. You can also ask for extensions or get help from other students. These resources are not available in the workplace. Hiring managers recognize when they hire a student, there is no guarantee he or she can perform outside of the classroom. If you have practical experience, you are telling hiring managers you know what it takes to do the job because you have already demonstrated those skills.

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If your lack of educational credentials comes up during the interview, make it clear you already have the skills necessary, but do not sound dismissive about learning more skills in the future. Employers value experienced workers, but having employees willing to grow and develop more skills is equally important.

It is Never too Late to Learn

Even if your education section is currently lacking on your resume, it does not mean it has to stay that way. A common question during interviews is what you plan on doing in the next five years, or where you see yourself. This question helps hiring managers judge your future potential. Ideally, you give an answer where you are still valuable to the company. If you talk about wanting to perform a completely different job, you are less likely to get hired.

Instead of focusing on what job you want to work in the future, discuss getting a degree. Make it clear you are willing to work while getting your degree. In some cases, companies invest in skilled employees who need a college degree. Typically, these companies pay for a portion of your schooling. When you graduate, you are promoted to a new position reflecting your increased abilities. In exchange, you agree to work for the company for a set amount of time. Not only does this make you look valuable as a long-term investment, but it shows initiative as well, which hiring managers appreciate.

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