No Degree, intermittent Experience

"Hi! I am currently unemployed and looking for FT employment, but am having a lot of trouble looking, from where to focus, what to apply for, and why I'm not getting any interviews or offers at all (except for perhaps sales positions which I'm not interested in), and I'm not sure what to do. I went straight in to the workforce instead of going to college, so I don't have a degree. I got to a desk job at 22 and was there 9 years, doing data processing and phone support, with a good bit of training experience in that time, a little project management, account management as a main go-to for one of my long term clients (instead of my boss), etc. I focused a good deal on getting the company to create a training position by doing the work for 8 months only to have them backtrack and instead completely remove me from anything training. I then tried to better myself with getting Certified Scrum Master and Certified Scrum Product Owner, but before I could shadow the roles to learn more and perhaps get out of support, I was wrongly put on an improvement plan that led to my getting let go 6 months later. I was unemployed for 5 months before getting a contract doing a job that I really enjoyed (admin for a ticketing system and worked with the BAs and clients to gather requirements) and thought I'd have a long term chance at, but within 2 months, that contract was ended and so I'm looking again.

Problem is, I have some experience between my professional, but also 4 years in Toastmasters with the last 3 years as leadership experience, but it's nothing "official", and nothing focused enough for me to know what to apply for. I'm interested in training, but most jobs require software experience. I'm interested in getting into maybe project management, account management, just something dealing with clients more directly to ensure their success and happiness, including being an SME on their products and needs, but since I've never worked on the "numbers" side, or managed people in the first place, I'm afraid I'm not turning heads with the experience I do have.

I'm worried I'll never get to a position like I'm hoping for, without official experience and/or a degree, and will have to settle for a lower paying call center front line rep job again... How do I figure out what jobs/title I should be going for, and how to make myself seem more appealing??"


It sounds like you've had a tough run. It is discouraging to keep trying and sticking your neck out, but being stopped by external factors. Here is my advice:

1. Let go of the past. It sounds like you continue to strive to do bigger things than yourself, but haven't caught a break. This can break your spirit and turn a hard worker into a pessimist. Spend a little more time processing what happened (I'm sure you already have). Then you have to re-think it all as a positive learning experience. Tough times build resolve and maturity. You also have to let go of blaming anyone. Not your bosses, management or yourself. Focus on the positive aspects of your experience, and move forward.

2. You are a great candidate for Strenghtsfinder 2.0. This is a very helpful self-assessment tool. Look up "StrengthsFinder 2.0" on amazon. Buy the book and take the test. You will learn about your top 5 strengths, and how to best use them. This will shed light on the direction you should take with the skills you have.

Project Management, Account Management and Sales are all great options. Look around at small/medium ad agencies in your area for Account Management jobs. Agencies can be a grind, but tend to be more open to employees without degrees if you fit their culture.

Also, consider looking into bigger non-profits for a Project Manager job. It won't pay as much, but if you can spend 1-2+ years in a role there and do great work, it will strengthen your resume and open doors for other opportunities.

"Thank you for your reply! I will look into strengths finder, for sure!

When you mention that sales is a good idea, I just don't think I'd be interested in Sales. I've got no experience, and I don't know that I'd be any good at it, besides the idea that I don't like the idea of not having a standard pay side sales is usually low base + commission. :/ I just don't feel like I could sell a product I don't believe in, and there's a lot if that going on :( What's also been frustrating is that a lot of Account Management positions seem to include being a salesperson too, when I just want to focus on the Customer experience and such.

I'll take a look at non profits, too, if I can. Thanks again!"


In sales and account management, look in to "Farmer or Hunter" types.

Basically, one type of salesperson is a hunter, they go out and get new business. The other type (often account management) is the farmer.

It sounds like you are a farmer and you know it. Farmers make less, but also have a steadier pay (medium base, lower commission).

You don't want to use the "Hunter and Farmer" terminology too much in an interview, but realizing what you would be good at is valuable. Google "hunter vs farmer sales" to learn more. Many agency jobs are farmer jobs, a la account management. You treat the client/customer well, communicate often and make sure everything runs smoothly.