You are always so helpful at answering questions, I hope you don’t mind this one:
When I’m applying for freelance writing and editing positions, I often see people looking for someone with at least a Bachelors or even a Masters degree. I don’t even have an Associates (although I have enough college credits for two!). Should I bother applying for these jobs? Would they even consider someone who’s primarily self taught? After all, I’ve worked with people with doctorates who don’t know the difference between your and you’re!
When it comes to writing and style, I can’t figure out what someone with a Bachelors has that I don’t.
I don’t have a college degree either and I’ve never worried about it.
Yes, the purpose of the resume, application and cover letter are to get to the interview. From there you’re also interviewing them so you can decide if you want the gig or not. I don’t apply for those, but I never hesitate to apply for a writing gig I think I can do, no matter what the requirements.
I actually was offered a job writing full time for a bank and I think part of the reason the editor wanted me was because when he said, “I notice you don’t say anything about a degree on your resume,” I just acknowledged he was right and said I hadn’t graduated. I didn’t say anything more and he didn’t ask. Apparently my comfort with my lack of degree impressed him.
If you look at my credits and resumes you’ll see that none of them even mention education. Instead I talk about my experience as a writer, magazine editor, etc. etc. etc.
I’m sure I’ve failed to get writing jobs and freelance gigs because I don’t have a degree but no one ever wrote and said anything like “how dare you apply? We stated clearly we wanted a person with a bachelor’s degree!” Chances are you’ll never know one way or the other and it won’t matter.
I would suggest that if you’re asked you not apologize that you don’t have the xyz degree. You’ve nothing to apologize for and doing so just makes you look insecure. That won’t get you hired – the insecurity that is. If they ask tell the truth – “no, I don’t have a degree,” then stop talking. If they want more information they’ll ask for it.
The truth is most people who hire writers haven’t got a clue what they really need. They put in a requirement like a degree or a specific number of years of experience to lessen the number of applicants. Demonstrate through your resume and cover letter that you can solve their problem and you’ll probably get an interview. Then you can find out what they need and, if you want the job, show them how you can meet and even exceed what they want.
While there are certain kinds of academic and scientific writing – engineering also comes to mind – where you need a degree to do the writing, that simply isn’t usually the case.
And for those of you with degrees? Congratulations! If you’re thinking you might go back to school, reading Freelance Writers Don’t Need A Degree may help you decide.
Do you have a question about freelance writing? Contact me, putting Q&A in the subject line, and I’ll do my best to get it answered for you.