Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Education History: No High School Diploma

I am currently employed at a financial institution but am looking to better my career. I did not graduate high school. Please tell me how far back an employer would check my education history. I am 41 years of age, so the last time I was in school was over 20 years ago.
--- Just wondering

by Bridget Oakes, Senior Search Consultant

Dear Just Wondering,
Well, there is nothing you can do about this. Employers are going to ask about your educational background, either in the interview or on the application and you must be honest about your education history.

Even if you don’t think they will check, lying about this will be grounds for dismissal when the truth comes out.

Although I don’t know the details of your current situation and the job you hold within the financial institution, I can almost guarantee that if you are looking to better your career, the lack of a high school diploma is going to be a very real obstacle.

Statistics vary, but the average high school graduate earns about $9,000 a year more than a non-graduate, and earning potential increases rapidly with continued education.

My first suggestion would be to pursue your GED (General Equivalency Diploma). A GED is equivalent to high school graduation in the eyes of almost any employer and GED holders can enter community colleges or universities to pursue additional higher education.

The process for earning a GED varies from state to state. You can check your state government’s website for testing procedures, information on preparation classes and fees. Your employer may even offer assistance with costs.

If you have demonstrated success with your current employer, and you add additional “objective” qualifications like a GED and possibly additional training and education in a related field, you will likely find yourself eligible for growth opportunities and promotions within the organization.

Thanks for the question and best of luck.

Bridget Oakes is a Senior Search Consultant with Partners in Technology. With nearly 10 years experience in executive search and recruiting, she is well equipped to provide advice and guidance to candidates searching for new careers, and welcomes the opportunity to do so through Job Lounge.

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