Thinking that a diverse and solid work experience will offset the lack of a degree or recent certifications can be a serious error. The myth is especially rampant for Baby Boomers. In the 1960s and 70s the emphasis on a college degree was much less than it is today.
The job market was ripe with career-oriented positions and Baby Boomers moved easily from high school to employment. The only major exception was for those with low draft lottery numbers who could qualify for a deferment from the Viet Nam War if they were active students.
Today’s world is much different. Technology is changing rapidly and employers will prioritize an applicant with current certifications.
“Some candidates think a degree doesn't matter” says Amy Roos of Sapphire, a division of Randstad specializing in temporary and contract IT staffing, “Some experienced professionals feel that after being in the workforce for a while that a degree doesn't matter however having a degree can set one candidate apart from the next.”
This is especially true for those that have been out of work due to the recession.
“A lag in the economy can provide a great excuse to go back to school and get the degree and /or professional certification you have been meaning to do,” says Roos. “Many organizations have thresholds that are self-imposed to hit certain percentages of education levels achieved by their employee population.”
Baker College, Walsh College, Lawrence Tech, and Macomb Community College have programs designed for professionals seeking lifelong learning. In some cases, the state’s No Worker Left Behind program, administered through Michigan Works, will pay all or part of the tuition.
“Certificates are a definite way to set you apart from the next person,” adds Roos.
She points out that in the rapidly changing IT world certificates need to be updated. She says she has one large financial client that will not hire without degree.
The good news is that IT companies are not expecting Masters Degrees. For many, the lowest threshold is a Bachelor’s degree.
Learn more about today’s generations:
- Builders / Traditionalists, born before 1944
- Baby Boomers, born between 1943 and 1964
- Generation Xers, born between 1961 and 1980
- Generation Y, born between 1977 and 2000
- Millennials, born after 1998
Top books about generations
- Because I Said So!: The Truth Behind the Myths, Tales, and Warnings Every Generation Passes Down to Its Kids.
- Bridging the Generation Gap: How to Get Radio Babies, Boomers, Gen Xers, and Gen Yers to Work Together and Achieve More.
- When Generations Collide: Who They Are. Why They Clash. How to Solve the Generational Puzzle at Work.