Degree Requirements

Hello all,

A little background then my question. I have some formal education but did not finish a degree. I have over 10 years of work experience and am highly skilled in Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. I a looking for a job and everyone is requiring a Bachelors degree. I have been applying to these anyways, but never hear back and because they are online through job boards like Indeed I have no real way of following up on them. I also can’t seem to format my resume to pass those programs that screen them. Today I ran into a application that would not let me proceed once I answered the question that I did not have a degree.

So my question is this. How do you get your application through to an actually hiring manager when they require a degree and you don’t have one, but you do have all the other qualifications?

I am also wondering about my name. My married name is Valdes but my maiden name is Tapp. Should I start using my maiden name to avoid discrimination?

I appreciate any help you can provide.

What kinds of design jobs are you applying for?

At some of the places I’ve worked, applications without the relevant degree requirements were automatically removed from consideration by the HR software without a human ever seeing it.

At some of those places, the companies had government contracts that prevented them from considering applicants that didn’t meet the stated minimum job requirements, such as a degree, even when they were, otherwise, ideal candidates for the position. Lowering the criteria to accommodate interviewing that one person meant lowering the criteria for all the applicants and interviewing everyone who met the changed requirements, which was usually impractical.

I doubt your last name is the reason, and if it were, would you want to work at a place like that anyway?

If I were to make one suggestion other than getting that all-important degree, I’d suggest pairing down your portfolio and making it more focused.

You put dozens of things in your portfolio, which demonstrates your experience. However, art directors typically judge portfolios by the difference between the most appropriate and least appropriate work for the job, with the worst work typically weighing in considerably more than the best.

You might want to focus on what kind of job you’re after, then remove those things from your portfolio that don’t represent your best work and their relevance to the jobs you’re after.

It’s an unfortunate fallout due to the huge numbers of design students out there. It’s pretty much standard these days to require a Bachelors and at least 2 years of real world experience just to apply for a job in the design field.

Are you applying to local companies? Rather than do online applications, have you considered the old-fasioned hoofin’-it method of in person drop offs of physical, leave-behind portfolios? I know it seems rather outdated, but will note one of our marketing assistants was hired on the spot when dropping off a resume, and she had no degree, but did have trade-school experience (which we happen to value more than college where I work.)