Why a College Degree is No Longer Enough (And What to Do About It)

career advice

A college degree used to be a promise for a successful career.

Go to school, study for four years, then when you graduate you’ll get a good job and have a great career.

The degree did this by showing that you are ahead of the crowd: You did something most other people don’t do.

But what sets you apart from the crowd is always changing.

This is because when the majority catches up and also acquires something, it loses value.

This is the case with a college degree, where 1/3 of LinkedIn users have a bachelor’s degree.

I’m not saying a degree doesn’t have any value.

I’m saying you can’t rely on a degree anymore as the only thing that will land you a job.

So if a bachelor’s degree isn’t enough, what can you do that will give you the career you want?

Personal Branding

Job seekers who are ahead of the crowd are taking LinkedIn seriously.

It’s where every company is, and nearly every job is posted.

But only 1% of people on LinkedIn post at least once a week.

This means that if you post and build a personal brand, you are in the top 1% of LinkedIn professionals.

So let’s explore how to build your personal brand on LinkedIn.

7 Steps to Starting A Personal Brand that Will Land You A Job

The purpose of a personal brand that is supposed to land you a job is to show that you are trustworthy and competent, not gain a bunch of followers.

The quickest way to start your personal brand is on LinkedIn. You don’t need to make your own website to have a professional presence.

1. Pick the Job You Want to Target

Identify the specific job you want to pursue. The more specific you are, the better. Remember, you’re simply choosing your next opportunity, NOT what you want to do for the rest of your life.

2. Update Your LinkedIn Headline to Target That Job

A good headline will tell anyone who visits your profile what you’re good at.

Below is a template from Cultivated Culture.

After you write your headline, I recommend using their Headline Analyzer to see how you can improve it.

Headline Template from Cultivated Culture

[Job Title] | [Skill 1], [Skill 2], [Skill 3] | I Help [Company Type] [Insert Unique Value Proposition With Measurable Metrics]


Copywriter | SEO, Content Strategy, Creative Writing | I Help Tech Startups Craft Compelling Content To Boost Engagement

3. Update Your About Me Section

Think of your About section as was used to be the Objective Statement on a resume, except you have a lot more you can write, and with LinkedIn, you can showcase your personality.

Here’s a template I’ve used:

X+ years in {your industry or profession, you can list 2-3 key phrases} with a passion for {something that makes you great in your profession}.

My Specialities: {List general keywords} Ex. Customer Support, Project Management, New Hire Training, SOP Documentation,

My Toolkit: {list specific tools/technologies you know} Ex. Excel, Zendesk, Toast, Confluence, Google Suite, Adobe Photoshop, Quickbooks

If you’re looking for someone to solve your {____} problems, let’s connect.

You can also find examples in this article from Cultivated Culture. Just remember you don’t have to follow the template word for word, make it your own.

4. Add Your Past Experiences

Add your past roles to the Experiences section.

You don’t need to copy/paste every bullet point for each role from your resume, but be sure to include a few accomplishments for each. Don’t just list responsibilities.

5. Make Your LinkedIn Profile Photo and Banner Professional

Do not use graduation photos, wedding photos, or anything that isn’t in a professional setting.

Just because you’re dressed well in the photo, does NOT mean it’s professional.

I recommend getting professional photos taken, it’s well worth the investment for your career.

In the meantime, you can take a professional-looking photo at home.

Dress well, face a window, and have someone take a photo of you. Make sure you are genuinely smiling.

Using Canva, you can replace the background with a solid color, which will look ten times better than what most people have.

6. Post something

Having just a few posts on your LinkedIn profile will put you miles ahead of everyone else.

Post something you learned from a book you read, a course you took, or a recent experience you had.

Remember to be positive and helpful in your posts and not to complain about the job search or your field.

Here’s an easy template you can use: 

I’ve been {read X book, taking Y course} that {notable author / course platform} wrote/created. 

Here are 5 things I learned about a great {subject matter}.

{make a list of 5 things you learned}

7. Add Connections

Add anyone you know on LinkedIn. This could be people LinkedIn suggests, past coworkers, or anyone you went to college with.

Also, add people you don’t know, but who are in the field you are looking to land a job in.

By following these steps, you'll create a strong personal brand on LinkedIn that will be an asset in your job search and your long-term career.

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