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19 Years experience but no degree

By jw ·
I have 19 years experience in IT but I have no degrees. I am the sole IT person for a company w/4 locations and 60 users. I have no formal education but have kept systems up for 6 years at my current employer with only 1 day of down time. I am trying to find a new job but no one wants someone with no formal education or degree. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to better improve my odds? I do not have time for classes as I work 12-14 hrs a day in various locations.

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Re-organize your resume to show experience

by MikeBlane In reply to 19 Years experience but n ...

Re-write your resume to show your experience. You will normally only get 20 seconds to impress someone on your resume. Make your first section a [Work Experience] section where you sell your qualifications to others like a commercial:

- Implemented a webserver that was able to withstand 25000 hits in the first day without failing.

- Upgraded network servers over several weeks with no interruption in service for the company's 2500 users.

Make sure the statements are true and accurate, but give them the importance they deserve. Work this section as if you were working to get a raise from your boss and you want them to understand how important your work is.

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**CERTIFICATIONS**!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

by geeksquad In reply to 19 Years experience but n ...

I KNOW TAKING FOUR YEARS OF CLASSES IS UNREALISTIC, THE ONLY ROUTE/ADVICE I CAN GIVE YOU IS... CERTIFICATIONS!! I DON'T CARE IF YOU RECEIVED YOUR PHD IN COMPUTER SCIENCE,15 YEARS EXPERIENCE TRUMPS A PHD 5X OVER. UNFORTUNATELY HR BELIEVES A DEGREE MEANS EVERYTHING, ESPECIALLY IF THEY ARE NOT FAMILIAR WITH THE IT INDUSTRY. TAKE CERTIFICATIONS IN YOUR AREA, SINCE THEY ARE ONLY TESTS, THEY SHOULDN'T BE TOO TIME CONSUMING FOR SOMEONE OF YOUR EXPERTISE.


EVERYONE WILL AGREE WITH THIS

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Choose your employer carefully and get a cert

by cuthbertgriswald In reply to **CERTIFICATIONS**!!!!!!! ...

I am in a similar position, I left school with no qualifications, have been in the business for 6 years and have previously held helpdesk management type jobs. I have also been responsible for recruiting techies and have never looked for a degree when recruiting new people. Probably because I do not have one. I was made redundant about this time last year. the last guy that was recruited into the dept had actually dropped out of Uni 2 or 3 times, was a gamer and had no IT experience other than upgrading his own PC. I did not want to recruit him because it looked to me like he had no staying power, was unreliable, and of course had no corporate experience. The reason we were looking for somebody was to take the pressure off me doing tier 1 support, and the more basic admin stuff. The MD, however looked at his CV and saw somebody with potential as he obviously had the ability to obtain a degree (go figure). Anyway, this guy then disappeared for a week and after calling his home to find out where he was, I was shocked to find that he had been leaving the house each morning as if he were coming into work!!
I then called a meeting with the MD and two other employees who were at the same hierarchical level as me within the company to decide what to do. I had alarm bells ringing all over the place, and said that we should get rid of him as he was actually making more work for the rest of the department and that this was obviously a problem he had all his life as evidenced by his CV and his inability to complete anything. We took a vote, and the other three (including the MD) decided to keep him on. Two weeks later things came to a head in my personal life, my partner who had given birth to twins a year earlier had post natal depression, was quite frankly bonkers, and would not go to the docs to get herself sorted. She was actually disabling my alarm clock so that I would not go to work/be late. So I asked for a week off to deal with it, as I had never taken all of my paternity leave when the kids were born.
At the end of that week I got made redundant, the other guy was retained and I have not found another full time job since. That guy then continued his fun and games, causing more work for the dept and after 6 months and a load more unauthorised abscences they let him go. All because the MD had a degree and seemed to think that was the be all and end all. They also then lost the other outstanding techies that i had recruited to other companies because they had to keep filling in for this guy and were not able to do their own jobs properly.

The key I think is, to pick your employer carefully try and do a bit of networking and find out as much about the people who will be your line managers or the poeple doing the recruiting as you can. If they aren't hellbent on degrees then obviously you have a better chance at getting an interview. Some corporate websites seem to like boasting about thier staff and their qualifications and/or employment history, so use it to your advantage.

Like the others have said, once you get the interview you have kind of already overcome the major herdle and it's just a case of selling yourself (easier said than done in my book), get a book on interview techniques for help there.

I would also say that you need to reduce your hours - 12-14 hrs a day suggests to me that you may not actually be able to do your current job effectively and implement the solutions that would save you and your users time. Perhaps say something like, initially I was working 12-14 hour days but after utilizing X, Y functionality this was then reduced to a more comfortable 8 hrs.

I would also look at certs closely, I'm currently doing my CCNA and ITIL foundation. Someone with your experience should be able to buy the book and even with your current workload be able to get through it in a month (or take a week off).

Self employment is an option, but you need to be highly motivated to do it. Though again, more and more clients seem to be cert savvy and actually ask what certs you hold before signing up. I have been doing this for the last year but only seem to want to do enough work to pay the rent etc, and spend the most time I can at home with the kids.

To sum up, find a way to reduce your hours, look at certs, improve your interview technique, target the right employer and find a way of giving them what they want.

I would go for IT experience over a degree every time.

And the very best of luck to you,


C

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Didn't anyone tell you

by jamesgrimes In reply to **CERTIFICATIONS**!!!!!!! ...

Didn't anyone tell you using ALL CAPS like you have done above is like yelling, and yelling is rude. Tone it down.

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Experience +

by aaronjg77 In reply to **CERTIFICATIONS**!!!!!!! ...

Intelligence
Knowledge (Theory)
Motivation

Are all necessary!

Everybody speaks of ?years of experience? but, trust me there are a lot of idiots out there that have a lot of experience. I work with a guy that has ?years of experience? and that is the reason that he got the job. My company is regretting the day they hired him. He is a hard worker and that is probably why he has kept the jobs he has had up to today but he is an idiot and CAN NOT SOLVE PROBLEMS!

Let?s face it.... to be successful in IT; you must be an Analytical Thinker. If you can't solve problems analytically, then your career success will come to a stop. You will never see another raise. You will never get a better job. All you are every going to do is listen to people tell you how their computer is so much slower then it use to be.

There are always going to be the guys that have 30 years of experience and are still fixing peoples printer problems or resetting passwords. Why? Because it is the ONLY THING THAT THEY CAN DO.

I just want everybody to stop talking about how many years of experience they have. Who cares! Give me somebody that can solve problems.

Oh yeah and certifications aren't everything and I know a lot of great people that don't have them but, they do do one thing; they show your employer that you have ambition to complete something and the aptitude to learn.

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Don't feel bad

by raulnm In reply to 19 Years experience but n ...

I have an associate degree and little work experience as a technician. Many companies won't hire me as a computer technician. Most of the technician who get hired are the ones with 10 and 15 years of experience. My suggestion for you is to go to college and get you an associate degree. All it takes is about two years. You already have plenty experience. I wish I have a lot of work experience like you and I would be working as a technician for a big company.
Good Luck.

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Respectively, You Do Not Have Time to Not Pursue More Education

by rellis1949 In reply to 19 Years experience but n ...

I sincerely appreciate your concern with having experience and no "paper". I was directly in IS/It from 1968 till 1986 and have been in IS/IT support since 1986. I lost my direct IS/IT position due to downsizing and turned to education as an alternative (and now permanent) job choice.

A major concern I constantly address to my students (as well as my own grown children) is to ensure that a degree of some type is pursued and acquired. The degree may be academic (AS, BS, or MS), may be technical, or may be acquired through certification. Employers have for decades, and moreso today, relied on the luxury of implementing "paper" titles as a weeding factor for hiring or promoting. The logic involved in the process is multiple but generally management perceives that the ability to replace a person can be as easily accomplished by using experienced personnel or by accepting less experience (with base-knowledge) and having the "papered" prospectives molded to fit the organization's needs and culture.

I do understand the quandry by which you exist and do understand that experience will generally be better for performance capabilities than will a degree alone. However, if upper management does not exist under those same perceptions then the only choice is to play by the rules of controlling agent(s). I would strongly suggest that you pursue "paper" acquisition in as timely a manner as possible. Your base-competition is not shrinking, management's perceptions of replacability often overlook position experience (as a single variable for choice), and you have the capability to complement your experience qualifications.

The 12 to 14 hour days do not go away (I also worked those hours and at times 36 hour days and 13 day weeks). Pursue a "paper" path that will allow you to CLEP courses if you decide on an academic title; take correspondence courses; take Internet classes; acquire and study certification materials at least an hour a day.

Experience is so important towards effectively completing job mandates. However, only the experienced seem to appreciate such a concept and not all hiring managers have experience that will allow them to rationally trade action-know-how for "paper" certification. Regretfully, you do not have time to not educate yourself. Nearly 40 years in the field has reinforced a major concept; no matter how hard you work, few appreciate the time you spend supporting the organization and those that do are often not the ones that make the decision to retain or hire employees.

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Pretty Weak

by j.g.camp In reply to 19 Years experience but n ...

19 years of experience, if employers are using that excuse. Certs are good, Degrees are good to have. If you ever get that serious interview, it might be obvious that you do or don't have the expertise in the interview.

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lack of degree/ cert

by aa8vs In reply to Pretty Weak

Larger companies without the certificate/ degree you will not even get to the folks that need to see your background. If the degree box is not checked the HR person will 'can' it. Sad but that is also reality, so your only option is to network with the type folks you want to work for.

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Sometimes

by JamesRL In reply to lack of degree/ cert

I had two and a half years at University, but no degree(it wasn't in IT either).

I found it more challenging to find work, but I was hired at large coporate firm without a degree. They even will pay for me to finish.

James

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