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 You Can Find a Job As a High School Graduate

By Joe Stein

It can be easy, sometimes, for a High School graduate to feel down as it pertains to his/her job search. All a person seems to hear about from politicians is the issue of tuition and the perceived necessity of a college education. Similarly, virtually every TV show, movie, or commercial that depicts work life seem to focus on positions or industries that require a college degree or above. Lastly, there is a false general perception that robotics and the global economy has taken away all of our trade labor work.
The reality, however, is something very much different. Now, there is no denying that a college education can be beneficial, especially if you select a marketable major and stay motivated to use it. However, a person with “just” a High School degree can find good employment when running a solid job search. The economy continues to enjoy job growth and low unemployment, making this an advantageous market for a job seeker.
A key is to focus on industries that are both growing and/or have a labor shortage as well as positions that require “only” a high school diploma. Industries such as construction/home improvement and manufacturing still have the majority of the total non-degreed positions, however, there are a number of other types of positions that are growing and don’t require advanced education. Among these growing industries are many in the skilled-service sector, such as health care, sales, and customer service. Each issue of WNYJOBS contains dozens of jobs that can be obtained with “only” a High School degree.
Something that is worth considering, especially if you have decided on a particular profession, is additional training or education beyond your High School degree. This can be in the form of an apprenticeship (for a construction/home improvement role), or a certification (ex. Healthcare or Information Technology). The nice thing is that these can usually be obtained sooner and at much less expense than a college degree.
I would recommend focusing on positions that you are truly qualified for, either because it is a non-degreed role or (if based on the posting) you have the necessary experience to negate the need for any college diploma. By this, I mean that sometimes companies will state that they will accept so many years of relevant work experience in lieu of the advanced degree. This will allow you to have a more focused and efficient job search, especially if you have some time limitations based on your current employment. It will also serve to keep your job search positive, as you will avoid much of the rejection that can be associated with applying for positions you are not qualified for.
There are core critical skills or attributes that should be stressed in your Cover Letter and Resume, as well as during your interview. These are areas such as your strong work ethic, your ability to work with others, and the desire to learn. Core skills, like noted above, help separate you from your competition and focus on areas that are universally desired by Hiring Managers.
It can be very important to outline (for the Hiring Manager) your transferable experiences that apply to the position you are seeking. If you are a High School graduate who has worked at various jobs and in different industries, you have something valuable that an education can’t provide and that is real-life experiences. Be sure to share examples, such as your dealing with difficult situations or solving problems that can only be obtained in the work world.
It may seem all “doom and gloom” for those without a college degree, but it really is just the opposite. There are good paying positions that “only” require a High School degree or a diploma with a certification. So don’t despair, run a savvy job search by focusing on your selling points so you can find the position you are looking for.
As always, best of luck in your job search!