Many employers practice education snobbery. Often an employer is judgmental about a candidate’s educational history, including the institutions they attended, the courses they took, and the marks they received or their lack of education.
The pursuit of formal education beyond high school is not for everyone. It certainly was not for me. I have learned more outside of the classroom than inside. It was outside the classroom that I learned, yes, often the “hard way,” how to succeed in the workplace.
So how can you overcome education snobbery and confidently move through an employer’s hiring process?
ANSWER: By becoming visibly knowledgeable about your industry and profession, evangelizing your results, and actioning the following:
- Be charismatic (likeable).
There is nothing more advantageous to a job seeker than having a magnetic personality. As I have said in previous columns: Being likeable supersedes your skills and experience.
Throughout your interview, your interviewer is asking themselves one question: “Do I like this person?”
When you develop a personality people, such as your interviewer, gravitate toward, you will notice that all the “isms” your self-limiting beliefs are telling you are the reasons for your lack of job search success disappear. When your interviewer likes you, they will overlook many of your shortcomings (e.g., your education) and their biases.
It takes persistence and hard work to become charismatic. Many books have been written on how to become charismatic. If you have not already, I recommend you read Dale Carnegie’s timeless classic, How to Win Friends & Influence People.
TIP: You can start becoming charismatic by showing interest in others, which is a huge gesture.
2. Become a subject matter expert (SME).
SMEs provide knowledge and expertise in a specific subject, business or technical area and are viewed as a resource (READ: asset) to their employers. When you are perceived as an SME, you become the “go-to” individual.
Regardless of your educational background, you can become an SME.
“I’d like to show Bob what Epicor Kinetic can do and get his opinion about whether purchasing the software would greatly enhance the management of our warehouse. When it comes to warehouse management, nobody knows more than Bob.”
Think of everything that keeps your industry’s people up at night, such as safety, revenue generation, government compliance, and supply chain flow. Choose one and immerse yourself in it (books, magazines, attend workshops and webinars, earn certifications) to gain a deeper understanding of the pain points and find ways to mitigate them.
3. Evangelize your results.
I, along with many hiring managers, do not care about your education. Education is often overrated and sought-after for the wrong reason, as a meal ticket to a great, financially lucrative career. It is the results you can bring to my department and employer that matter to me. From firsthand experience, I know a candidate’s education is not a guarantee they will be able to achieve results. A candidate’s track record, however, provides reliable insight into their ability to deliver.
Throughout your career, consistently create a result-oriented track record and which you emphasize on your LinkedIn profile, resume and when networking and interviewing. Do not be modest when it comes to your achievements and results. Remember, employers do not hire education; they hire candidates they believe will achieve the results they seek.
Today, anyone can publish on social publishing platforms such as LinkedIn, Medium, and Substack or via a blog. Putting your knowledge and thoughts “out there” to promote your expertise has never been easier.
Maintain a blog or website and update it regularly. Publish on the social publishing platforms I mentioned and many more. Consider guest posting on other blogs or publishing articles or columns in industry-specific publications. Those of you who are ambitious might want to consider writing a white paper or even a book, which you can self-publish.
Do not kid yourself; it is hard work getting your name and expertise out there and becoming known as an expert in your profession and industry. It will not happen overnight, but if you are dedicated, it will happen, and employers will seek you out.
Publish regularly, use keywords effectively, and your name will slowly climb Google rankings, which is what you are striving for. As I mentioned in previous columns, once your application is selected as a candidate to possibly interview, the employer will first check your LinkedIn profile and then Google you to see if you are interview-worthy. Imagine the impression you would make if the employer found your articles, blog or book showcasing your expertise.
5. Maintain an active social media presence.
Having an active social media presence, ideally with a respectable number of engaged followers, through which you publicize your achievements and highlight your contributions to employers will greatly help overcome education snobbery. Demonstrate your approachability and willingness to share knowledge via social media. Direct your followers to your published works and invite them to ask you questions.
With a large enough following on social media, you may be viewed as an influencer in your industry and profession, negating any education snobbery employers may have.
Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers “unsweetened” job search advice. You can send Nick your questions to [email protected].