Getting Software Engineering Jobs Without a College Degree

Jun 1, 2021

8 Min Read

Today’s tech industries have transformed their images more fashionably, and software engineers’ demand is rapidly increasing. Thus, many young developers and experienced workers who want to enter or transition to these particular industries have set a goal of landing lucrative programming jobs brilliantly.

Although the only key you need to access software engineering jobs is to have a degree in computer science, some companies are creating more opportunities to fit new talents outside this traditional route to fill positions.

According to research, about 75% of software developers worldwide have a bachelor’s degree, while the remaining quarter is for developers without a degree. Consequently, experienced developers without a diploma can get their first programming jobs and join ranks successfully.

In recent years, there has been increased criticism of job descriptions with a degree requirement. A large number of people who don’t have a university education got removed for some reason. The outlooks for self-educated and non-traditional programming graduates have improved as many tech industries changed their usual viewpoints on jobs requiring a degree.

There are thousands of job seekers and tech startups that have succeeded in this field. How did they become successful? What are the procedures they applied to land their first jobs without a degree? Here are the four basic steps that will help you in searching for jobs:

1. Build up other Credentials

You can get an interview if you have a degree in Computer Science or other tech-related courses that meet the tech industry’s requirements. You will have to choose another alternative to make you worthy of recruiters if you don’t have a diploma.

The other free options to formal education (college) that will provide you learning opportunities on the essential skills you need for programming without the elections of qualified candidates are:

  • Online courses
  • Coding Bootcamps
  • Certification tests

The requirement for candidates at an entry-level is to make a standard listing of personal projects on their resumes. There are bootcamps, online coding courses, and university programs that you can later use as work samples. To get yourself prepared for the job, build things, create a portfolio web, and take online courses related to your field.

You can pile up your other credentials by listing them in one document so that you can view them all on one page. This can help you make adjustments where needed, add or remove anything else, and prepare to search for a job.

2. Finish Your Resume

After you have piled your documents together, you can organize them on your resume to make it easier for recruiters to access and decide whether you are good to have the interview or not. On the other hand, your aim should be to make the employer’s conclusion easy and straightforward. Here’s how you can get that done:

Lean Thinking and Precision

In this aspect, recruiters will try to check out only your tech skills. You must reduce the plentiful space you have reserved for past projects that are not related to the required field (coding). Avoid writing extensive details when showing your history so that your resume can be on one page. You can also add anything that will make recruiters see you as an intelligent and ready-to-work person. More so, you can highlight a tangible project idea you had, which has caused reduced income or improved revenue.

Be Careful with Your Education Listing

The benefit of having a well-crafted resume is that it emphasizes your assets and reduces your limitations. A helpful approach to change over to software engineering is by listing your education at the top as a Bootcamp graduate or someone with other online-related course certificates. The degrees that are not related to Computer Science will always be at the bottom of your resume. Itemize an incomplete degree with the credits you have earned to show that you have post-high school learning. It will be safer to leave the education section if you don’t have formal education or training after school.

Explain Your Projects In Detail

When describing the things you have built, remember to state what the application does and the tools like languages, frameworks and more, you used in writing it. You can post your project to a public GitHub repo for readers to review your code with ease.

Stay Humble

Blowing one’s trumpet as an expert in tech or any field means that one does not know what it takes to be an expert. It can make recruiters change their motives by trying to knock you down. Being submissive is one way to please the interviewers, so you must list your skills without overdoing them and avoid including skill ratings.

Proofread and Edit

Try to check your grammar errors. Many recruiters will be looking for how to reject your resume without having a second thought. You can also give other people your work to proofread and edit mistakes.

3. Apply Hybrid Job Search Strategy

As soon as you complete your resume, the first thing to do is locate the target market you want to take your skills to. Companies are not the same in giving people similar degree interviews or job opportunities. Search for companies that are hiring developers without requesting a degree around your network.

If you are interested in some particular companies, do some in-depth research about them to know their current employee’s professional and educational backgrounds. This will help you get prepared for the completion ahead. Job collection sites are also helpful in making quick research and application to a large number of positions in your field.

Note that the job aggregation sites are widely open to millions of people. This means they will always become crowded with applicants, so you need to look for an entry-level job with a quality support structure. When you are applying for a job, avoid including a general cover letter with the buzzword “To Whom It May Concern” to make you unique and be identified.

Write in short sentences ─ one or two is enough to clarify your genuine interest in applying for one job at a particular company. Tell them how fascinating their products or brands are. With that, recruiters will want to pay more attention to your resume if they discover that you have added some effort to make your research or application. While some applicants without a degree overlook group meetings, you can attend or join to learn more and connect with other programmers at all levels. As you participate in the meetup groups, you will have a golden opportunity to meet developers that will help you.

4. Prepare for and Crush the Interview

Many tech job interviews can be thrilling with tricky questions that sometimes require brainstorming and live tests on a laptop or whiteboard to show you have the skills beyond a degree. Get yourself prepared by studying how a company you are interested in tests candidates. When you make a quick web search,  you will find interview question samples that you can use to practice and study.

Many job interviewers will want to see how you cope with pressure by asking questions they already won’t be able to answer correctly. They also ask questions to observe how you will handle problems you can’t solve in the real world. Some interviewers can progressively ask questions by starting with easy ones and later switch to tough questions till you flop.

However, you don’t have to answer all the questions correctly, but giving your very best to scoring above the pass mark is also a key to winning the interview. Maybe you are thinking of how tough the interview can be, or you are anxious about how you are going to pass. Well, it’s normal, probably because you are already used to the high school grading standards where A is 90%, B is 80%, C is 70%, and the rest.

At the entry-level interviews, where the average pass mark is 50%, interviewers are always interested to see how you solve problems rather than the correct answer. Interviewers do check the passion of those without a degree and how fast they learn in the company. If a candidate can’t answer a technical question correctly at the entry level, he or she can be pardoned. However, interviewers will count it offensive if you fail to answer these few questions correctly:

Ignoring “What do you know about us?”

Make sure you find something sensible to say about the company for one or two minutes. If you don’t have any tangible description within this short period, you are finished.

Making a mess of “Tell me about yourself.”

As simple as the question is, you must be able to discuss why you choose to program. If you don’t have a degree, you can also use the opportunity to describe what prevented you from graduating or attending college. For the benefit of the doubt, state what you can bring to the table that will add value to the job position and company so that you can be accepted.

Bull$h*!ting

During the interview, avoid bullshitting any question you can’t answer, as it’s awkward. Always have a plan B for failure. It goes by asking for help, cooperating with the interviewer in finding a solution to the question, or instead of saying that you don’t know it. Try to convince the interviewer that you will learn more about the particular question.

Hesitating on degree-related Questions

Some questions can be awkward for both the interviewer and candidate, like, “Why don’t you have a college degree?” Get ready to answer the question by giving full details of the training and education you attend, with a confident mind to say that you can get started immediately. You should also let them know that you still have a lot to learn, just like your other new grads.

Irrespective of your academic successes, the tech interview procedures can be more challenging than you can ever imagine. Do not let those in the tech industry make you feel you don’t belong there or pull you down. They don’t always take it likely with candidates without a degree in Computer Science. You need to align your humbleness with the knowledge you have to show you deserve the position in all possible ways.

Most candidates don’t always find it easy on their first job search, which you may likely face the same. But once you are in, you are good to go, and that’s “good news!” As an entry-level job seeker, you may find yourself complaining about many offers that have overcrowded your Linked inboxes a few years later. Hence, you need to keep calm and keep landing software engineering jobs even if you never had an interview. In the end, nobody wants to know whether you have a college degree or not since you already have some professional accomplishments as a programmer.

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