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97Maike Dietz is a career coach and HR consultant and worked for Daimler for more than 7 years. After studying business administration, she worked for Daimler-Benz AG in Stuttgart for seven years, and in 1995 she switched to a large international HR consultancy. Maike Dietz has been a freelance personnel consultant for 17 years. As a management coach, she looks after companies and private clients and also works as a career coach.

Success without a university degree: CEO learning from a résumé?

There are world-famous college dropouts like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Michael Dell and René Obermann who show that a university degree is not necessarily required for success. Tips on how to find a job without it.


Too many jumps and deviations in the CV are usually harmful

The above examples are all well-known, successful and managing directors of global companies, CEOs, visionaries - without a university degree. But the question of whether this is really needed is not that easy to answer. Take a closer look:

Who would you hire? The applicant with an 1A CV? Graduated from a prestigious university, first job with a prestigious Company , after two years project manager, after three years manager. Or the applicant who changed the subject three times only to decide on an apprenticeship after all and then changed his job every two years?


Most HR managers and managers value a stringent CV. Why? Many successful entrepreneurs have left the university prematurely and without a degree - and yet made a career. Does it really need a perfect, stringent CV to succeed?

Still, a straightforward CV means purposefulness; It shows that the candidate can pick up topics, penetrate them and bring them to a successful conclusion in a reasonable amount of time. Above all, such a curriculum vitae also suggests that the applicant really cares about his or her topic.

Self-confident attitude

If there are fractions or minor deviations in your CV, expect critical inquiries in the interview. Here are some practical tips on how to react responsibly and to convince the staff chef:

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  1. If your curriculum vitae has several short professional positions, you will already be able to explain the respective interrelations in the written CV and explain them in an authentic conversation.
  2. If you have changed your subject, it is important that your potential employer can understand your motivation. Put yourself in his position: what would convince you?
  3. Do not avoid sensitive topics: You want to change the employer, for example during the probationary period? Avoid blaming and explain objectively what you dislike about the current position. But also make mistakes on your part if you have not communicated expectations sufficiently.

Find his calling

The key point is that everyone can be successful and make a career - provided he decides on the profession that inspires him and also his actual talents.

Can you imagine Bill Gates as a lawyer? Or Michael Dell as a doctor? Hardly, because their abilities, their interests lie in other fields than the fields of study that they had chosen. However, recognizing this is the real challenge, whether it be a career decision or a reorientation.

Here are some tips:

  • As banal as it sounds, deal with your talents: What is particularly easy for you? Where do you forget the time?
  • Ask friends and relatives where they see you.
  • Remember your childhood: What was your dream job at that time? If you wanted to become an astronaut, maybe you are now interested in studying aerospace.
  • Think about what to say about them when you go to retirement. Imagine being a family member, a friend and a work colleague holding a speech about you - what do you want these people to say about you?

Convince with self-efficacy and authenticity

Anyone who is aware of his self-efficacy, who assumes responsibility for his life, will also be able to position himself authentically to non-idealistic positions in his CV.

After all, real life experience also means to have confessed to some or other wrongdoing.

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6 responses to "Success without a university degree: CEO learn from a résumé?"

  1. Klaus Philipp Heinrich says:

    That I can, in fact.

    Only from his own experience as an applicant, later from the work as a recruiter: especially German companies (soon) good heads out, many decisions of the personnel without requirement analysis, but with more gut feeling (large manufacturer of vehicles, quotation) are taken.

    Talent and Recruiting:
    The statement “finding your talent” is unfortunately utopian for many people - even if you are good, you often cannot ignore the soft skills or personal contacts in the company, or even worse: With four clicks you reject potential candidates because you have dropped out of school Personnel or recruiting sit without an economic or personnel-technical background (office clerk can be deliberately excluded here, I have seen how many here fail because of English or the evaluation of certificates. With a funny "the next one please" the dearly sought-after specialist was burned) . Very good candidates from the fields of technology, business and law are simply burned if the name does not match what is being sought 1: 1.

    Practical examples:

    Engineers are recruited “on the devil” and they are also employed in the business sector, the consequences in my practice were fatal. Of course, this is a very good way of developing new technology, but it is of no use if calculations from business administration are not understood or rejected. A few months ago a trade fair took place at the university in Bochum, in the land of plenty for every recruiter. At this trade fair, engineers were mainly or exclusively (!!!) looking for engineers in 80% of the companies - physicists, chemists, humanities scientists (personnel psychologists) and business administration experts were put off or pushed directly off the head. Some of the HR managers were under 30, and in all cases you had to apply online so that you could be rejected with a “click” even in a small company.

    Respect and differentiation - actually material of the 3rd semester:

    There is a lack of knowledge, technical application (Dale Carnegie once said 85% are Human Relations, 15% technical know-how among executives) and the desire to respect people.

    Hardly opportunities for talent:

    What is often not understood: An internship or a traineeship is not a substitute for an entry into the

    Profession, especially when young people have to earn money. The rejections are now so great that entire classes at universities are desperate (I see that every day in recruiting). The advertisements in the style of “I'm building the future” or other campaigns that focus on individuality are pure mockery and ridicule against young people.

    And: Only 3 of 10 Personalchefs can be reduced to recruiting.

    • Maike Dietz says:

      Dear Mr. Henry,

      I would like to take a closer look at your comments in the commentary - and I think that you should see them as personal, individual experiences and not as general theses. Candidates are still invited to the talks on the basis of their previous positions and their abilities. The abdominal feeling is only decisive in the personal discussion: Does the candidate really fit into the company? Is the wavelength, the interpersonal? To this extent, most companies have clear requirements catalogs, which the applicant has to bring along or what would be desirable. These are requirements catalogs, which are not from the personnel area, but predominantly
      by the responsible persons.

      Whoever has breaks or deviations in the CV should, as mentioned in the article, best explain the reasons briefly - many employers will appreciate this honesty. In addition, it is important to present in the application what you can bring into the position you have written.
      And yes, I can understand your aversion to the impersonal online application; but whether the application is now "per click" or rejected in the conventional way, what difference does it ultimately make? As a result,
      from the perspective of the respective employer within the scope of this personnel selection, others meet the requirements profile even better.

      Of course, it is the task of companies to promote the potential of their employees and to invest in their further education - finding their own talents, however, is the responsibility of each individual. As far as the professional talents are concerned, this is sometimes difficult at the beginning of the career, because the corporate world with the different responsibilities for many is not yet conceivable. And why do not you start with an internship or a traineeship? In a short time, newcomers get an overview of the company and various departments; it is primarily about collecting practical experience and thus also the entry into the professional life. Trainee programs are also very popular, because the support during this time is extraordinarily intensive, everyone has the opportunity to make many contacts and to try out relevant topics. The career prospects of a trainee are often even better than in a direct entry.

      Germany is a strongly technical country that accordingly has a great need for engineers; Fortunately, the “Made in Germany” label still has an excellent reputation worldwide. Many positions can ultimately only be filled with engineers due to the necessary qualifications. There are also commercial tasks that require specialist knowledge that engineers do not have (e.g. accounting / taxes). In addition, the economy offers positions for which primarily personal strengths count. For example, strategic positions (e.g. corporate strategy) require, among other things, innovative strength, pronounced analytical skills, structural work and an affinity for numbers - these positions, which used to be predominantly occupied by business people, are now often held by physicists or chemists. Humanities scholars, especially psychologists, can also be found in industrial companies - especially in HR departments or their own academies,
      which some large companies have now built.

      Respect and appreciation are extremely important virtues, which are indispensable in life in general and, of course, also in the application process. This is what most companies see and do the same. But people also make mistakes - they may not even be aware of the effect on others in this context. Then, as a person concerned, one can point out factually. Perhaps you also have recruiters as a role model
      and to set different standards in your environment.

      Mit freundlichen Grüßen
      Maike Dietz

      • Klaus Philipp Heinrich says:

        Thank you for your detailed answer,

        I will not comment on this.

        • Simone Janson says:

          Hello Mr. Heinrich,
          thank you for your differentiate comment, which I found very exciting.
          I am also frightened again and again in the face of U30 staff. We also discussed the question of why companies are looking for engineers who are hard-pressed, and whether we have at all the much-promoted experts,
          Our author, Frank Heinrich, has also pointed out the lack of responsibility for continuing education in companies:

          My impression is that there are not inconsiderable discrepancies in thinking - nowhere does this show as nicely as in this discussion between Gero Hesse from Careerloft and Sarah Wagenknecht: https: // digital-work-discussion /

          By the way, ME is also a result of our economic and social structure. One side, successful thanks to luck, achievement or perhaps also a suitable fit into certain schemes, preaches: “You are the smith of your own happiness”, the other side, in the absence of positive experience, reacts increasingly critically and negatively to this rhetoric of success. As is so often the case, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

          From my own experience as a medieval historian (the chances can be on the labor market at the time you can imagine) I know that you can achieve more than you actually think, if you just make time. And that the idea of ​​a safe, quiet workplace that many graduates want is more of a utopia. I would therefore agree with Mrs Dietz, who pleads for the assumption of responsibility of the individual.
          In addition, we have recently dealt with the issue of resilience, which goes in the same direction:

          Nevertheless, one must not ignore the socio-cultural component - e.g. also the educational background. I've explained this question in detail here:

          Incidentally, Svenja Hofert has quite practical, as the text is mentioned, made the CV of a rejected candidate and made various suggestions for improvement.

          You see, a wide field that can not be treated in three sentences.

  2. Klaus Philipp Heinrich says:

    Such people are not even invited.

    • Simone Janson says:

      Hello Mr. Heinrich,
      Thanks for the comment. Do you have any personal experiences that might be more differentiated?
      Thank you
      Simone Janson

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