T Nation

No College Degree


#1

I work in sales.

3 years ago I was working with a company that wanted to hire me. We made it to the third interview when the manager asked me something about my degree. (at this point I forget the exact question) I had to correct him because I didn't have one. Apparently they thought I did, when I corrected him, he cut the interview short and told me they only hired people with degrees.

I was pretty devastated, especially because everyone else I had met with (3 people) thought I was perfect for the job. I confided in a few older professionals that suggested I put it on my resume and make them ask me. So from that point forward I started putting that I had a degree on my resume.

Now let me clearify. I went to college out of highschool (state school) went for 3.5 years (technically completed 3 full years of college) before some personal issues as well as outside factors called for me to come closer to home. I transferred to a university who told me that ALL of my shit would transfer. I did, but 1year of my credits didn't, and it was too late, I already left my first school, got a job, and moved...I was stuck at the new U.

I went to school nights and worked during the day for 4 years. (Took 1 year in between off to complete the fire academy and emt requirements).

With 18 credits left I had to make a decision. The company I was working for wanted to groom me to take over. (small-midsize construction company with room to grow) They didn't care that I didn't have my degree and were more worried about the fact that I had to take time out of my work days for school.
After consideration I made the decision to stop going to college. To be perfectly honest I was boarderline broke, student loans up the ass, and the new position was the light at the end of my tunnel...or so I thought.

I've mentioned this before a long time ago, but things went south with that company. Basic end of it was that it was a family owned company (two brothers) one wanted me to take over, the other ended up changing his mind and forced sale. I obv did not have the money/backing and had to move forward from the company.

When I moved forward 3 years ago, after everything happened with the misunderstanding, I changed my resume. I was shortly hired afterword by another company. The hiring manager asked me if I had a degree, I said yes, and he couldn't have cared less after that.

Last year my company was bought out and the new management cut out entire divisions, which led to the job being turned into seasonal. We're starting up again soon and as I was going through the re-entry crap I found out that my commission package was going to be changing as well other things.

I decided to start looking for another job, I've met with a staffing agency and even have had some interviews. And I've been operating under the guise that I do have a college degree. Yesterday when I met with the staffing agency they asked if I had a degree, and I said yes. Today during an interview I was told that there would be a background check done if I made it to the final stages, Including a degree check.

So my ultimate questions for fellow Tnationers are:
Has anyone ever lied about having a degree to get a job?
Should I continue on with how I'm presenting myself and force them to ask then verify?
Do I tell the staffing agency that I don't have one too?


#2

Do not say that you have a degree if you don’t. There’s no two ways about it.

You need to change your resume and you need to clarify the point with your staffing agency. If your recruiter brings you to one of his clients under his auspices and says that you have a degree, and the company finds out you don’t, your recruiter is going to look like an asshole and - rightly - will not work with you again.


#3

in my opinion, defrauding employers isn’t a great way to get ahead.

that shit could catch up with you, and you could end up making a bad name for yourself.

I understand that you are in between a rock and a hard place… but there is always a way out (not true for student loan debt however). that’s what great about this country.

id suggest you seek advice from an expert in this area.


#4

What would it take for you to complete your degree?

There may be distance learning options available to you if you’re not near the University.

You would also then be able to put an anticipated graduation date on your resume. You need to come up with a story (not a lie, but a spin) about why you didn’t finish your degree to assuage potential employers. For example,

“When I left school in 2006, after nearly 4 years, I was excited to use what I had learned. So far, not having a degree hasn’t gotten in the way of my building a successful career. Let me show you what I’ve done…”

You’re going to have to work hard to get your resume in front of an actual live human being; the resume scanning software will boot your resume if a degree is a mandatory requirement and you don’t have one.


#5

Seems to me you already have most of a college degree.

Now, you and I know its bullshit, but, you know, gotta play the game…

I am afraid those are hoops you should jump through…

“Augen zu und durch” or “Close your eyes and rush through it…”…


#6

I’d consider lying.

I dropped out of high school and lied about it and lied about my age to get work (said I was 19 when I was 16 and said I graduated, which was obviously impossible)

Without the lie I wouldn have gotten the job so it was worth it to me. Also, at the time it was legal to pay less to minors. Both of those things were bullshit to me so I was ok with it morally/ethically. However I had to live a lie for years and that was incredibly stressful. I only lied about my age so my high school graduate story added up with my work history and my age, but it was pretty tough to have to keep a lie going. (I also didn’t want to explain why a 15 year old had a year of full time work history and paying rent etc)

Not having to do much to connect the lie from the truth you wouldn’t have to have a supporting story, so like Orion says, play the game. I’d do my best to avoid lying in a lawyerly way, so technically it wasn’t a lie and couldn’t be dismissed for it.


#7

[quote]Phoenix44e wrote:

Has anyone ever lied about having a degree to get a job? [/quote]

My uncle’s father-in-law lied about a degree for his highest paying job he ever had. The employer found out, he apologized and cried his way into it, and got the job.

I’ve never lied about my credentials because they are necessary for my job, but I have lied on nearly every resume I’ve ever submitted. :slight_smile:

I consider lying about credentials to be VERY risky! It is not something that can be embellished or altered. Either you have it or you don’t, and to find that out is very simple! Such lying is far different from lying about job duties, length of time worked, dates, pay, and so on.


#8

You’re a salesman. Spin it, and sell yourself. Resume should read along the lines of “attended University X from xxxx to yyyy” or whatever and leave it vague. Have a good spin if asked, and carry on. If you can’t sell yourself to them, I’d change fields because you sir, are not qualified to sell shit.


#9

[quote]Broncoandy wrote:
You’re a salesman. Spin it, and sell yourself. Resume should read along the lines of “attended University X from xxxx to yyyy” or whatever and leave it vague. Have a good spin if asked, and carry on. If you can’t sell yourself to them, I’d change fields because you sir, are not qualified to sell shit.[/quote]

That’s the ticket. Lie without lying :wink:


#10

Some of these unaccredited online schools count work experience for college credit… you may be able to take 1 online class and be done w/ it.

Take your pick:

My brother in law dropped out of highschool, lied about it, got into a tech school, and is now getting an MS in CS.
My dad lied about an engineering degree and worked for the likes of John Deere and GTE, but that was a generation ago.


#11

If they are going to check…then how would you get away with it? Seems like they WILL find out, so perhaps save the awkward convo and say; I attended college for a degree course but had to finish due to xyz.

When I left my last foster home when I was below minimum age, I had to lie to get a job in a shop saying I was older than I was to pay rent etc. That is far easier to hide than having a degree - 1 phonecall and you’re done. Only changing of dodging that is check with some employees if the company actually does phone colleges.

So moral of this story; be honest - and see where it lands.


#12

[quote]debraD wrote:
I’d consider lying.

I dropped out of high school and lied about it and lied about my age to get work (said I was 19 when I was 16 and said I graduated, which was obviously impossible)

Without the lie I wouldn have gotten the job so it was worth it to me. Also, at the time it was legal to pay less to minors. Both of those things were bullshit to me so I was ok with it morally/ethically. However I had to live a lie for years and that was incredibly stressful. I only lied about my age so my high school graduate story added up with my work history and my age, but it was pretty tough to have to keep a lie going. (I also didn’t want to explain why a 15 year old had a year of full time work history and paying rent etc)

Not having to do much to connect the lie from the truth you wouldn’t have to have a supporting story, so like Orion says, play the game. I’d do my best to avoid lying in a lawyerly way, so technically it wasn’t a lie and couldn’t be dismissed for it.[/quote]

Wow, I had no idea about this piece of your history. Me too!

Much of what I did was to simply allow/foster assumptions. But my presentation is and was so bookish, that was very easy for me to do.


#13

[quote]Voluminous wrote:
If they are going to check…then how would you get away with it?
[/quote]

IF they check. I’ve had 10 jobs and most have required a degree. Only the latest one called me to let me know I had a block on my university account preventing them from verifying the degree.


#14

[quote]johnnytang24 wrote:

[quote]Voluminous wrote:
If they are going to check…then how would you get away with it?
[/quote]

IF they check. I’ve had 10 jobs and most have required a degree. Only the latest one called me to let me know I had a block on my university account preventing them from verifying the degree.[/quote]

Yup. Lot of places are just bluffing you anyways. Even for things as simple as references. I never finished high school, and I have a criminal record. Neither has ever come up, and I’ve never had any references called either. I think they just wanna see you react when they tell you they’re gonna check / call. If you’re not prepared that will tell them everything they need to know anyways.

And always remember that confidence trumps all. Lead your interviews, and inspire their respect. A little bit of charisma goes a long way.


#15

Jesus Christ…


#16

Finish your degree at the University of…wait for it…Phoenix?


#17

It pisses me off that some local guy cant get a job only because he doesnt have a degree. They will probably pick a foreigner dumbass who has a bullshit fake degree from his country. The job market is flooded with them.


#18

[quote]jasmincar wrote:
It pisses me off that some local guy cant get a job only because he doesnt have a degree. They will probably pick a foreigner dumbass who has a bullshit fake degree from his country. The job market is flooded with them.[/quote]

I work with people that were foreign-educated with degrees from Pakistan, Turkey, the Phillipines and other places in the area. Some are good engineers, others are not, but they are kept around for some reason. In our company, every engineering position requires a certain college degree and you have to prove it.

My brother with just a HS education is probably a better engineer than most that I work with, but he can’t get an engineering position in most places. He bounced around a bit in the past 5 years but finally got a decent position as a Quality Manager.

I work with a guy that has just an HS degree, our job duties have some overlap in some areas. I do have more responsibility than he does, but he makes $25k less a year than I do.


#19

Lies have short legs.

Can you get away with it sometimes? Yes

If you are caught, will it ruin your reputation? Yes

If you are in sales, your JOB is to build trust and get them to sign on the line that is dotted. You don’t build trust by lying…


#20

Don’t lie. Background investigations are not conducted to find further reasons to hire you. They are conducted to find reasons NOT TO HIRE you. You presumably already impressed your prospective employer in the interview. You sold yourself. If the prospective employer is going to take the time to conduct a background on you, they want to hire you.

A proper background investigation is a lengthy process and it costs the employer time and money to conduct. They are making an investment in you, so don’t screw that up by taking the chance on them digging up some inconsistencies in who you sold yourself to be and who you actually are.

One other note on backgrounds: As a public sector (Law Enforcement) background investigator, I often will obtain a list of companies (departments) that you have worked for and applied to in the past. I will obtain a copy of any background investigation and or speak with any investigator that I can. If I find that you were deceitful in their investigation I will eliminate you from our process. So beware. Background investigators will share information with other investigators (at least in my line of work). If word gets out that you are not hirable due to honesty and integrity issues, finding a job is going to be that much tougher.