I Ain't Got No College Degree

Finding a new job is hard for just about everyone. Unless you’re the guy who is being hounded by offers, I guess. I’m not sure who that guy is, but I know it happens. For me, finding a job entails lots of searching and networking and hustling. And also looking up in the thesaurus the difference between ‘excel’ and ‘proficient’ because good god that could mean a 5K difference in salary or an office with a view or one with just paper clips. It involves lots of sleepless nights and stomachaches while I remind myself how much I don’t qualify for anything and go down the list of If Only They Knew. And I’ve landed a few really great positions with excellent companies full of people that I hated leaving and wished I could work with forever. I know I did a great job working for/with them and I have a quiver of recommendation letters and references to prove it. But moving to be closer to my kids and being ill for a few months over a year ago necessitated changes in employment. I’ve tried to roll with the punches and embrace what’s next.

Recently, as I shined up the ol’ resume for a new go at things, I answered an ad which stated it required a 4-year degree. This is not new. I’ve done it many times before. I have no 4-year degree but, in past years, I’ve thought nothing of including in my cover letter something to the effect of, ‘You indicated a requirement of a 4-year degree. I have [X]# of years of experience and [X]# of references I could send to you by way of indicating my qualifications for this position in lieu of said degree blah blah blah.” To which I’ve never received a negative response. Until now.

Yes, quite possibly I’ve received no negative response because 9 out of 10 times, my resume went straight into the shredder. Or the recycling bin, as it were, since I was considered unqualified. And I’ve been OK with knowing that could be true. I’ve always held some sense of Universal Timing and felt in my bones that the right companies would still find me attractive and I would land the position I was meant to have when the time was right.

But never did I consider that I might be angering people on the other side. I didn’t feel that having to read through the first three lines of my cover letter would waste so much of the reader’s time as to do some type of permanent damage to their retina, as this last enraged reply implied.

Ms. Peterson,

You have no idea how insulting it is to receive you application for [this really awesome position] with [this slightly less attractive company] this afternoon. Our description said in very certain terms that we are looking for someone WITH a COLLEGE DEGREE. You DO NOT have a COLLEGE DEGREE. Perhaps if you had a COLLEGE DEGREE, you would not have wasted the very valuable time it has taken me to read your application LACKING a COLLEGE DEGREE and respond to you with this email. (Ed. – to be fair, I didn’t ask her to reply is she was going to be an asshole, just if she was interested in speaking with me. So I’m not sure that last part was accurate. But what do I know? I don’t have a COLLEGE DEGREE.) In the future, may I suggest you do not blunder in this way again and refrain from replying to job positions that explicitly require a COLLEGE DEGREE. A good way to smarten up – GO TO COLLEGE.

Very, very sincerely,
[Redacted] [Extremely less attractive company at this point]

And so, my friends, I’m smarting a little from embarrassment. I’d like a college degree, sure. But I don’t see me finishing 2 years of remaining school in the next couple of weeks. And I’m more than slightly worried about sending out more cover letters with the same information I’ve been sending out that so ticked off this woman with so little time, except just enough, to write me a stinging email. I do not want to burn bridges or get a poor reputation. I feel, in a word, stuck.

Will write stupid poetry as payment for constructive advice and helpful feedback.

59 Responses

  1. I am speechless.

    All I can muster is, THANK GOD you don’t have to meet with, or worse, work with that woman.

    She is clearly off balance. Don’t give her another speck of your energy.

    Of course, what do I know? I don’t have a college degree of any years.


  2. Crud, I wish I had some good advice. With employment the most critical thing (I gather from watching my husband not find a job for a loooong time) is to keep at it–avoid the idea that there is something about you that is flawed (but authentic!) and at the same time keep tweaking your application and expanding your ideas of where to look for jobs. And talking to people and all that.

    OK, I’m a dope to give this advice because the only reason I know this is that this is what everyone says to you over and over and over. So you’ve probably heard it over and over and over again.

    Do NOT be embarrassed. That email is absurd, that woman is a class-A jerk.

    I don’t know whether to throw up or drop a bomb on their headquarters. First of all, it is the American way to try to get as far as you can, to ignore artificial limits, in the pursuit of a good job. How many kazillions of stories have you heard about the person who overcomes all the arbitrary obstacles? The point is that one is allowed to try, one is supposed to try, one must try.

    Particularly when someone is in your situation–with skills, intelligence and everything to offer but the credential. Why shouldn’t you try for jobs you can do?

    Next, I want to SOCK that woman. What the *&^%$ does she mean ‘smarten up’? I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever that you are 89X as smart as she is. Ugh. Double ugh.

    It has been kind of interesting in the blog world though to find that the bloggers who didn’t go to college are often the better writers. It’s sort of inversely related to one’s level of education–the bloggers with Ph.Ds are by far the worst writers. Why is that? I guess it only surprises me because when people first come to college they usually need to learn so much about writing but I think most of the things in college are things you have to teach yourself anyway–writing is one of these things. (I’m still learning how to write.)

    Good luck. Fingers and toes crossed and all that.

  3. what. the. hell, leah. that was so unprofessional, i cannot believe it. i would so want to report her to her HR department for that.

    many, many places will accept a number of years’ experience in lieu of a degree. i bet she was 20-something, went to an ivy league college, and was just so. damn. proud. of her degree.

    i just finished mine a couple of months ago. but does it make me better than someone else? hell no. and that recruiter is an asshole and has a lot to learn. i hope someday you are in a position of authority over that person, or that you’re her customer and you get to tell her no.

    keep looking. there are people who will value your experience.

  4. Ugh. How terrible. And how *totally* inappropriate of her.

    I do have a college degree, but I changed careers a few years ago, so my degree is no longer at all relevant to my job. Some of the places I’ve applied have required a Computer Science degree (I’m in IT; my degree is in English), but it hasn’t been an issue because I have “equivalent years of experience.” There have clearly been a few places where my resume didn’t make it through the HR screen because I lacked one of the stated requirements, but it’s never been a Problem for anyone (at least, not that I know of).

    I wouldn’t let one completely insane letter deter you, or make you doubt the value of your cover letter. This woman is obviously not making good decisions, so her opinion might not be worth much.

    Sorry to be so long-winded, but DAMN. The job search process is terrible enough without someone totally unreasonable pissing on you, essentially. My condolences.

  5. i’m with marisa. i work in IT (i’m the one in SD that knows christine) and i just finished my english degree. but i have enough technical knowledge/ experience that it really doesn’t matter for what i do, at this point. keep your chin up – don’t let the bastards get you down.

  6. Well you’ve been put in your place haven’t you. I’m surprised they even bothered replying to you, especially that reply. I think you’re better off not getting the job there with attitude like this.

    I also think that far too much emphasis is placed on college/university degrees when experience should count for much more.

    Good luck with your job hunting.

  7. I work with recruiters and I gotta say, this woman is kuh-razy and has way too much time on her hands. Recruiters these days are used to getting flooded by extremely unqualified candidates (think admins applying for director roles) and a well-explained lacking degree is the least of their concerns. I can’t beLIEVE this woman took the time to berate you — not only is it deeply unprofessional, but it must have taken quite a while, and that’s time she could have been spending with candidates who she felt were a better fit.

    Also, I have to say as someone who works in employer branding, this is like a text book case of how to deeply damage your brand. I understand why you didn’t kist the company, but you’re being too kind.

  8. Hi Leah – Found you through all of this Blogher business. ; )

    Her response was ridiculous and rude. I’ve done hiring interviews IN higher education for the past several years, and been a career counselor at a college for the past few. Hey, the way I look at it, creativity counts. Why not try for something if you think you’re qualified? I think it shows confidence. And if you don’t meet their criteria they can pitch out your resume and move on. PLENTY of resumes with and without degrees get thrown out every day.

    Even if an employer were to think these things anyway, it is completely unprofessional, unethical, and just not NICE to use that kind of abusive, demeaning language with anyone. If your application insulted her that badly, she must not be insulted very frequently, or has maintained very thin skin. Also, she didn’t have to CHOOSE to take her time to write the e-mail. Somebody is clearly ready for anger management classes, and everything about this note to you is wrong, wrong, wrong. That “a good way to smarten up” bit – what?

    Sorry this happened to you.

  9. This woman is seriously messed up! PLEASE! She should be ashamed of herself. I mean, seriously. What nerve!

    Hang in there. The work force is much more flexible now than it ever has been. Ignore this one “incident” and proceed as you had planned. The right job for you is out there.

    I’m sending virtual hugs.

  10. As if there weren’t enough (insert your favorite word here) in the world already, this one takes the cake.

    In my on-going effort to remove jerks like this from their positions of power, would you please let us know what company you applied to so we can all avoid them in the future?

    I would also recommend that you send a link to this post to the President/CEO of the company and ask if this is the type of employee they want representing their company to the public.

    It has been my experience that those with the least bit of power will always wield it with the utmost authority and this surely seems a likely example.

    Please consider pursuing this further with the company as no one deserves treatment like this. I can’t imagine how many other people this person has abused in similar fashion. Someone needs to put a stop to it.

    I am going to post a link from Career Opportunities so people can see just how bad it can be out there in the cold, cruel world and why they don’t have to put up with it.


  11. Okay, I do have a college degree. It is in History/English. What has it done for me? Hmmmmm … NOT A THING.

    It did not help me start my own business and sell it to start another one and sell it to start another one and do the same with it.

    It sure as heck doesn’t look good on a resume – has nothing to do with being a manager at a Victoria’s Secret, selling shoes, applying make-up to thousands of women at Prescriptives, selling encyclopedias, retail, retail, retail, and watching kids in my home (all previous jobs).

    Nope, not in the least bit.

    It is in no way related to what I do now.

    What you donow is what you’ve always done. She snubbed you b/c she was on the rag and someone just chased her tail in the office with a particularly terrible bite. On a different day she wouldn’t have written.

    The right time. The right place. The right job.
    Just around the bend.

    Get up. Go buy a great outfit. See a movie. Eat something loaded in sugar. And get after sending out more resumes.

  12. That’s ridiculous and I would be tempted to send her a reply expressing my rage over how she wasted my time by making me read her reply when I asked her only to respond if she were interested. Also, are you on Linked In? I get lots of inquiries just by having my resume up there.

  13. [quote]recommend that you send a link to this post to the President/CEO of the company and ask if this is the type of employee they want representing their company to the public.[/quote]

    Right on. That was simply the most uncalled for BS I’ve seen in a long time. Part of me says don’t waste another second of your life thinking about this pathetic bitch, but the other part says get her in big trouble!

    I don’t have a college degree and have managed to have good jobs, and even got one that required a degree because I had the most experience. And I kicked ass in that job, so nyah nyah nyah. I am so mature!

    I am so angry for you, Leah, and I’m sorry you had to experience this nastiness.

  14. You do not need to apologize or feel in any way embarassed. You acted appropriately; many companies advertise for the qualifications they hope to find, but are willing to accept much less as long as the person can do the job well.

    The woman who responded to you, on the other hand, was entirely inappropriate. I suggest contacting her supervisor or the HR department of her company and giving them a copy of her letter. That’s not the way any company wants to be represented to anyone, even a job applicant who was less qualified than they hoped.

  15. I am totally with Douglas and Country Mouse. Put her out in the open in front of her boss, CEO, HR whoever, all! It’s the “secrecy” and shield of email that makes people think they can get away with crazy, rude, unprofessional behavior. Expose it or it will continue…for some other unsuspecting new employee!!! Scary!
    Maybe keep doing exactly as you’re doing. It’s a screening out process for the questionable companies with their freaked out employees. Go for what you love to do and jobs and money will follow! Not to mention job satisfaction.

  16. I think what you’ve been doing is fine. I often apply to jobs where I don’t meet all the stated requirements, and I have gotten many callbacks from such jobs.

    Clearly this was a personal issue with this person and you can either ignore it and blow it off or do like some suggested and let a higher up know how this person is representing the company. I have a feeling it won’t be looked upon very highly by that individual’s supervisor.

    As for getting a bad reputation, I don’t think HR staff are trading stories with HR staff from other companies and even if they are I doubt names are exchanged and that you will be known to anyone but this particular ill-mannered person.

    Go forth and apply and offer experience in lieu of degree–it is okay. What’s the worst that will happen? A nasty email? Well, you already got that, and you are still doing just fine, right?

    Many cos. list their ideal candidate, it doesn’t mean the won’t accept less. Now if they say it is an absolute must, or something to the effect of “Do not apply if you do not have a 4 year degree,” then I probably wouldn’t, but otherwise, my philosophy is giving it a try can’t hurt and it might help, so I will apply to any job of interest that I think I will be able to actually carry out with my current skills and abilities.

    Good luck and I hope you find something soon with a company with a somewhat kinder, gentler HR staff.

  17. I’m blown away by this!!! I absolutely agree with Douglas…. Send along a little note to the President and HR! I believe in not letting it get to you, letting it go, blahblahblah… but people like that should not be representing any company and be in a position like she is. That’s crazy. I would send a very polite “FYI” *then* I would let it go =)

    Good luck with your search!

    (p.s. found you on Ree’s site…)

  18. Have to agree with all of the above. You can’t let this letter bother you for a second – whoever wrote it is clearly a total crank.

    You should post her name as well as the name of her business as a public service. 😉

  19. My English degree has really helped me answer questions on Jeopardy. But aside from that… I’m drawing a blank.

    You’re smart not to burn bridges because I would be fuming.

  20. That woman is unbelievable. I don’t see anything wrong with what you’re doing and sometimes the people who are “unqualified” for the job are the ones who excel the most because they want to succeed more. I know it’s a large example, but that is like The Pursuit of Happiness. They told him he was unqualified, but he knew he could do just as well if not better than everyone else and he was persistent. Don’t let them get you down, Leah.

    I think you should keep sending those letters out. You never know when they may fall into the right hands.

  21. Hi,

    I clicked here from Pioneer Woman’s Blog. This woman is clearly out of line. I have applied for many a job for which i wasn’t perfectly qualified. (In fact, my first job out of college had NOTHING to do with my degree, they hired me because of personality.) And I’ve changed jobs and careers. A lot.

    Given that you never want to work there, I wonder if you want to pass this onto the CEO of the company, and express your concern that while you can accept not being qualified for the job you felt the reply was totally out of line. Don’t get mad, get even. Maybe I’m just vindictive.

  22. I think everyone’s in agreement, ignore the unstable person who sent you that letter. I would also hold onto the e-mail, just for revenge sake. This is a small, small world. Someday you might have the opportunity to shame her the way she tried to shame you.

    Your letter is completely appropriate. Good luck in the job search.

  23. That is AWFUL, and yet, sadly, this is not the first time I’ve heard about a totally asshole-ish response to a resume/manuscript/submission that the reviewer deemed unworthy for some reason. It’s so incredibly unprofessional; I mean, if you don’t like something, just send a form letter, or ignore it altogether. Gah. Sorry, Leah. (Hi, by the way; I was in a session that you moderated at BlogHer, and I think you’re fabulous.)

  24. OMG..I totally agree that this needs to be sent to a CEO type person. That is totally crazy. I have “some college” and have always applied for jobs that ask for a degree. I believe that my experience teaches me WAY more than a classroom would. By the way I don’t remember half of the shit I was taught in school. (I can tell you Wilma Flinstone’s maiden name though).
    That just toally pisses me off. BUT..now you know there is no way you’d want to work at a company like that that hires idiots like that HR person.

  25. Everyone’s said it. Unnecessary response from an unoriginal thinker.

    There are countless avenues to achieve skills and knowledge. (you offered yourself up as an example.) Sadly, this woman has yet to learn that, nor has she learned how to be a human being.

  26. Wow. What wisdom emanates from that woman. God bless her. A good example of what I don’t want to be like when I grow up. Unfortunately, her college degree (I’m assuming she has one) has failed to prepare her for her position. Just think what money she could have saved on tuition by taking your course of life and learning compassion and professionalism instead?

  27. You should send her a thank-you note for sparing you the agony of working with her. If she’s that much of an extreme,mirco-managing nut-job, just think of the horror it would be to work for her. Or near her. Oy.

    Lacking the 4-year degree is one of those things that maybe matters, maybe doesn’t…as you’ve already seen. Most sane companies accept expierience in lieu of a degree and only use the degree requirement as a filtering tool, should the applicant turn out to have some kind of social deficiency. Sometimes it’s possible to find out (through researching or calling the company or consulting the mystic 8-ball) whether they’re serious about the degree; more often than not, your approach of presenting your experience and references should be sufficient.

    You might consider something along the lines of “I am pursuing a degree in (X), and have (Z) years of experience in (job)…” and perhaps include an example of some kick-ass thing you’ve done. You don’t have to reveal the fact that “pursuing” means taking one night class a year at some point in the distant future.

    Good luck.

  28. Hi Leah, I came across your blog through Belinda. I just have to say that her email is so unprofessional. I have interviewed many applicants who did not have the requirements we asked for because I liked them. I have also tossed as many applications in the trash because of lack of training:o) I have never bothered to correct someone who is wrong for the position, just kept looking. I would not worry about her email, just keep using your resume and let the other employers use their own discretion. I hope it works out for you at a nicer job.

  29. OK, here’s my theory: It takes intelligence to be able to see intelligence in other people. Those who don’t have enough intelligence to spot a smart person when they see one have to look elsewhere for “proof” of intelligence, like college degrees.

    So: the fact that she’s convinced that you need a college degree to be able to prove to her that you’re intelligent is in itself evidence that she wouldn’t know intelligence if it punched her in the face (not that intelligence would ever do that, no matter how much it wanted to).

    You dodged a bullet there, girl. Imagine having to work with this woman; man, what a horror.

  30. That is ridiculous and I agree that you should send it to the CEO. She is clearly long overdue for a reprimand and needs to be put in her place.

    The main thing I learned by getting a college degree is how utterly useless it is.

  31. Oh Leah, I’m sorry. That’s lame. I don’t have a college degree either and like you, it’s never stopped me (of course, I’ve been working at home for myself for the last 10 years…). But, I did work for Microsoft in HR for 4 1/2 years. I did internal recruiting and HR generalist work. I partnered closely with the external recruiting team. At Microsoft, we had a few hiring managers that would get a bee in their bonnet about degrees. However, that said, what was encouraged (from the top down) was the kind of person you hired… not the degree or experience. One of our Sr. VPs used this analogy when talking to the hiring teams about hiring philosophy: “I’d much rather have a faster processing computer with no software than a slower computer with all the required software I need. I can always add the software to the faster computer… but it is more difficult to increase the speed of a slow computer.” Not a perfect analogy – but it does get the point across.

    The kind of person will tell you much more about how they will do and how much they will succeed than the degree or specific experience they have. The degree and experience can be cherries on top of the right person… but just a degree and industry experience without having a sense of curiosity, flexibility, hard work and intuitive intelligence — all the recruiters knew it would be at best… a mediocre hire.

    And others have said it – but if a company looks only at numbers, figures, spreadsheets, resume experience and degrees… the company is shortsighted and lacking.

    Ultimately, they are being their own worst enemy. They may do well as a business with their current model of hiring, but they could and would do better. They may not know it, but it is their loss to miss out on people like you. It’s not a place deserving of your abilities.

    Don’t be tempted to short-sell yourself. Go after jobs that interest you with confidence. Don’t let the lack of degree even slightly slow you down. Be bold.

  32. Find out who her boss is and send it to them. That’s unprofession, un called for and abusive. You shouldn’t have to take that from any one.

    Sorry sweetie, hang in there.

  33. absolutely uncalled for. this person is quite a good bit off her trolley 🙂

    lucky you didn’t get a job at a place where they employ such people.

  34. WOW, that was pretty fuckin’ hostile. And honestly? A college degree is not all it’s cracked up to be. I have one, but several of the engineers I work with do not. You can’t tell me that you can honestly tell the difference between the guy with the Master’s on my left and the two guys who never graduated on my right. All three of them write kick-ass code, and one of them (who didn’t graduate) has written several books. As you noted in your cover letter, what these guys lack in college experience, they make up for in work experience.

    My question to any employer is WHY do you require a college degree? Unless a specific major or coursework is mentioned in the ad, a college degree is usually just a proxy for the ability to read and write intelligently (and sadly, it’s not even that half the time), for self-discipline, and sometimes, for worldliness. As this woman showed quite clearly, it’s certainly not a proxy for good manners.

  35. I wanted to add: Do not let this discourage you. SHE’S the fucked up one, not you. As many, many others have said, it’s perfectly normal to apply for a position for which you are missing one of the requirements. I think of it like this: when I search for houses on realtor.com, I plug in all the things I *want*. It returns results that 100% matches… as well as houses that are only 70% matches. I think the last two houses I bought were 80% matches. Sometimes one thing you didn’t think would matter overrides something you thought really would.

  36. HEY, you want my degree?? it’s in Spanish Linguistics. But if you take it you’ll have to order for me next time we go to Rosarito for lobster 🙂

    I can’t tell you how valuable that degree has been for me. Sure helped me in: Public Relations (in English) and in Banking, Database Development and Marketing.

    Oh, wait, I get to talk to all the customers who call from Spanish speaking countries…. and my LINGUISTICS emphasis really helps me talk about Welding products… 🙂

    CLEARLY this company is NOT the place for you!!

  37. How rude. I’ve seen it mentioned above more than once, but want to say it again myself: I know of many organizations that offer an equivalency alongside a degree “requirement” for open positions. It was NOT ridiculous for you to inquire.

  38. Leah

    So sorry that happened to you. I think how you were upfront at the beginning of your cover letter was a great idea. As far as degrees go, as many have said and I believe it’s true, yes they look good on a resume but experience should count. I know people who have multiple degrees, ex: master teachers, PHd’s and they have no common sense what so ever and couldn’t problem solve their way out of a wet paper bag. I think company’s that look for the “degree or forget it” attitude have closed minds and may be cheating their company out of talented, hard working, smart people.

    I also think, like many of your other readers that you should send a letter to the top banana. Chances are that if you send it along to HR then nothing will become of it. The company head needs to know how their place is being represented by the people they entrust.

    And who knows, he may read your letter and take a second look at your resume and realize that this girl has moxie and wants somebody like you working for him.

    Whatever you decide, best of luck.


  39. I can’t believe someone would do that instead of just setting your resume aside and moving on. Nothing was to be gained by that outburst AT ALL. I also do not have a college degree, and, like you, have had no problem showing experience to make up for the lack of degree. I’ve been hired at many a place based on experience.

    That person was wicked rude and I hope they get the runs. That’ll show ’em. 🙂

    That company didn’t deserve your brilliance anyway.

    Keep your chin up! You are awesome and I was thrilled to have dinner with you on Friday in Chicago. Thanks for everything!


  40. For G-d’s sake! This person should be, in the words of my favorite heroines, the Charmed Ones (blush) “vanquished” for he/she is surely a demon. NO ONE in any circumstances should write such a letter. If their company has ANY thing to do with the public they should be outed somehow. I am so outraged. It would be awful for anyone to receive but for it to go to LEAH!!!!!!! Well. We must picket the damn place immediately. Just whistle.

  41. Oh my gosh! I’ve never read anything so unprofessional and just plain MEAN as that person’s letter back to you. She took that much time and effort to fillet you –toward what end?? I am incensed on your behalf and I am a very new reader. I have frequently hired people without college degrees for positions that required college degrees because if the person was the right fit, I could help them obtain his or her degree.

    Wow, I’m still just shocked.


  42. I just cannot stop thinking about this. I want you to know and to… INTERNALIZE that this person definitely has mental health issues! I hope it won’t put you off of applying elsewhere–you handled the rationale of why you are applying in a wonderful way. And for someone to respond with such vitriol to a job applicant–it goes beyond unprofessional and into cruel and wierd verbal abuse. Hang in there! –Barb

  43. Absolutely unbelievable. Or sadly, too believable. Obviously, a college degree doesn’t guarantee and ounce of class or respect. Be outraged, not embarrassed.

  44. Please don’t feel that you have to be more cautious or change your behavior on the basis of one person whose reaction was so unprofessional as to virtually guarantee that no one in his/her right mind would want to work for or with her anyway.

    I’ve been in supervisory and hiring positions in a variety of industries for nearly twenty years, and it’s not at all uncommon for people who don’t exactly match the posted qualifications to apply for a job–and sometimes GET that job! While some companies will use something like a college degree as an absolute screening tool, mostly just to weed out the high volume of resumes they receive, those companies are free to simply discard your resume and there’s no real risk involved (unless you think it likely that you might apply for another job within the company in the near future).

    There are basically three possibilities: the person receiving your resume considers your qualifications despite the lack of a posted requirement; the person receiving your resume rules you out because you don’t have the posted requirement and you never hear from them; some whack-job who has no business in a position of authority takes time out of his or her busy day to rant at you.

    It’s for situations like this that the phrase “consider the source” was coined.

  45. Oh, Tiffany, you said everything I wanted to say but could merely sputter… I still can’t really BELIEVE that person could just GET AWAY with such… I don’t know, evil. It seems to me that people are at their most vulnerable and questioning of themselves when hunting for a job. To have some vomitous piece of phlegm take out all of her unexpressed rage on a sincere job applicant–and one who can write a darn good cover letter –makes me want to go postal.

    I guess that’s not very professional either. Anyway, I’m going to buy one of Leah’s t-shirts and make myself feel a bit better about spreading positive energy…

  46. Wow, I’ve never read anything more unprofessional. You should send her another resume. One with her information on it and her credentials. They would all read ASSHOLE.
    Sorry, you had to been the recipient pf someones bad day.

  47. Whoa. Such hostility. Thank your lucky stars all you had to deal with is a letter.
    Anyway, the good news is, you don’t have to work with this woman. Think of the poor sods that do! Hang in there! The good jobs will come.

  48. as long as you weren’t applying to nasa to be a space astronaut, this response was way out of line. (even if you were, i’d rather travel in space with experience over the degree any day.)

    it’s scary to know there are real people like that out there. like it’s been suggested, i would consider reporting it to the hr department. you do not deserve to be treated like that, no one does. (not that it would change anything at this company, but at least you will have acted on your own behalf. do you know what i mean?)

    i think your ingenuity is to be commended. honesty in that you have the experience, i would take experience over a piece of paper anyday. i think it shows courage and the ability to take a risk.

    i have no college degree either, yet i managed to work my way up into a company making a good life for myself. in fact, earning above my fellow college degreed comrades.

    lots of xo’s for you…

  49. I agree with David in the comments way up yonder somewhere: you’d be doing a public service by giving her name and the company. I’ve been going for 65 years without a college degree; most people don’t know, but it’s a fact I don’t hide either. I’m just as smart as a lot and a lot less smart than a lot. It works the same way for others with or without a degree. So there!

  50. I admire your honesty for letting them know upfront that you “lack” a degree. My take: I’d print out that email on good paper and frame it. In your future success it will bring many laughs. Please don’t be embarrassed; you are the professional in that exchange.

  51. I’ve had my degree for a little over a year, now. I have a bachelor’s in communications and rhetorical studies.

    My school work consisted of taking apart texts [photos, publishings, literature, cultural pieces, performances…pretty much anything] and looking at them from a rhetorical point of view. This is a basic understanding of what I did. I also took classes on race and gender, law, speech, politics and more. I loved my major.

    I now work in online media planning. What I do on a day to day basis was not found in many [if ANY] of my classes. I deem my education as an experience to help shape and mold me into who I will become. Did I learn things from my classes? You bet. Some of the best lessons I’ve ever filed away happened in my college classes.

    Am I working on projects on a day to day basis using this knowledge? No.

    It has long been my opinion that college is a 4 year, piece of paper proof, that you can do something and stick to it. And that is it.

    I can only assume that your resume speaks so highly of yourself and proves your dedication to a host of things. Then that should be proof enough. Who cares if college isn’t on the list. If you have years of experience in banking, but no finance degree, it would be silly to turn you away.

    Don’t feel bad about this. This woman, whoever she is, obviously forgot to take her head out of her ass when she woke up this morning.

    And ps….you’re WAY more mature than I am, seeing as how you took away her name. That email is in YOUR inbox. I would have put up or address and let the fun fly. Someone should mail that woman a douche bag.

  52. What that woman said to you was absolutely awful. She did not show the slightest amount of professionalism. I’m glad to hear that you’ve decided to go to the company’s CEO. At the very least, they will be made aware of the lack of professionalism of at least one of their employees. That being said, I wouldn’t stop myself from applying to jobs because you don’t meet one of the qualifications. A lot of places will still consider your resume based on other qualifications. All the best to you in your job hunting.

  53. On the other hand, maybe she did you a favour. You could have GOTTEN the job and ended up working for her! What a jag! (this is my husband’s new favourite wrd- basically it means idiot).

  54. WOW – I think she needs to ditch her college degree and head to charm school!!

    I’m happy you reported her to the CEO of the company. She deserves to get fired for sending such a letter.

    Hoping you find your dream job soon . . .

  55. i DO have a COLLEGE DEGREE. and i can’t get a job to save my life. oh, unless you count the offer i got to hang gutters for ten dollars an hour. ya, that’s what i had in mind as i crammed for history exams and spent endless hours writing papers on the history of postwar japan, hanging f**king gutters. I-N-S-A-N-E.

  56. Leah, in all the years I’ve been in the work force I have never received a response like that. You actually put your lack of completed degree in the cover letter. I never do, and leave education completely off my resume, as well. I had one interviewer get snippy with me about 20 years ago, but only one. Becky is probably right about her being a recent grad, but I would bet that it is from a mediocre school and she is defensive about it because she totally bought the old ‘you have to have a college degree to be successful’ thing. If you want to be really mean, send a copy of that letter to the CEO and chairman of the board of the company. You can bet she will hear about it.

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