Workers seeking jobs with high school diplomas, GEDs, and college degrees definitely have a leg up on workers without. More jobs and higher paying jobs are available the more credentials you have. However, many employers understand that while “that coveted piece of paper” is valued at the hard work, responsibility, diligence, and skills and knowledge learned to earn it, a degree, certificate, and diploma is far from all employers are looking for.

So what ARE employers looking for?

In any job, and employer is looking for someone who is dependable, has good work ethic, is willing to learn new skills specifically for the job, and has good communication skills. A dependable, hard-working employee who is willing and able to learn and can communicate effectively with coworkers and clients or customers is already set to integrate into a workplace and excel in training. These attributes are not unique to high school or college graduates.

However, if you don’t have a high school diploma, you’re going to have to go the extra mile to show it. It’s a matter of establishing trust. Having a diploma, certificate, or degree in hand shows that you have already been able to see a long-term commitment through to success. You’re going to have to account for this with impeccable references, on-the-job experience that includes training accomplishments and leadership, and other aspects of your life where you have taken on responsibility such as volunteer work.

The reality is there are plenty of jobs available to people without high school diplomas, so long as you can show that you are willing and able to learn. Construction, retail, the restaurant industry, delivery jobs, and so forth offer jobs that don’t require a high school education. Many of these jobs have entry positions available with opportunities for promotion. However, having a diploma, degree, or certificate alongside the attributes as experience employers are looking is a big step towards more job opportunities and therefore more agency over where you choose to work, higher starting wages, and an established basis of trust with your employer.

If you have years of school under your belt alongside years of work experience but no diploma or degree, you may have already earned the equivalent of that “coveted piece of paper” through what you have already accomplished. For a free consultation, visit us at


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