Musician Wants to Get Into HR But Lacks College Degree

Suzanne writes:
I really need your advice. Because of various factors I’ve come to a career crossroads and need some advice as to what I should do next how I should sell myself etc.
I’ve been a musician most of my life so I didn’t follow a traditional career path. I have held various retail-management positions and over the past 10 years I have had my own residential cleaning service. The business was successful until two years ago when we moved from Atlanta to a more suburban area. With rising gas prices a slowing economy and the fact that a lot of families here are single income business has fallen off sufficiently that I have come to realize that I need to make some changes in my work life.
I didn’t finish college so earlier this year I decide to look into some continuing-education courses. After speaking with some people active in the human resources field I decided to take an intro course in human-resources management. I was told that completing the course would show a willingness to learn and would be attractive to potential employers. When I started looking for a job every entry-level listing required a four-year degree. It appears that this avenue is not open to me at this time. I’ve also considered enrolling in a medical-billing program. It may yet be an option for me.
I stumbled across your site while looking for cover-letter examples and took a career test. It revealed that I would be good at some of the positions that I’ve already been considering. How can I translate skills used from retail and the cleaning business into something that will attract employers? I’m currently looking at a job as a receptionist at a small law firm. Do you have any ideas on how to approach this? I have basic office skills I am a fast learner and am very good with people.


The Career Doctor responds:
Despite the bad economy and your situation you should try if at all possible to identify a new career path that you are passionate about.
One thing I know for sure is that you DO have transferable skills. Think particularly about the entrepreneurial skills it has taken to run your cleaning business and deal with customers.
When you were looking for HR jobs did you actually get any interviews or were you scared off just by looking at degree requirements in ads? While that path may be closed to you it may not. There really may be employers willing to take a chance on you if you show them you are willing to finish your degree.
If you truly want to go after the law-office job you can frame your transferable skills using our Transferable Skills Worksheet. (You can use it for applying for other jobs in the future as well).
While your economic situation may be suffering at the moment I would suggest that it would be well worth investing in a career coach who also writes resumes. This coach can help you identify what you want to do next help you frame your skills and write your resume. Check out our Coach Directory.
Good luck!

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