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Distance learning, night classes, etc can be of great use, even if you're only taking one course a year your CV now says you're currently taking a (relevant) degree.
That's a good point. So "Finish my degree" moves from my TODO list to my DOING list, therefore I show initiative. And that is (almost) always a good thing.
"But what about those times when you don't know someone in the company who can help get you past HR?" I'll be a bit flippant and say -- find someone who can. If your covering letter can say that you've spoken with Joe Manager about the job then it stands a chance of bypassing the sift altogether.
Another good point. This echos what Ask The Headhunter has been saying for a long time: Study the companies out there, find one that you want to work for, and then cultivate a contact so can get you in the back door.

Here's an interesting article off that site. Basically it says: Be honest, don't lie, and it's your responsibility to make yourself outshine the others.

If you need a rule to follow, let it be this: Speak the truth.
  • Let it be the listener's responsibility to take your words at face value and act on them accordingly. If you're afraid the truth won't help you achieve your goal, then it's up to you to find a more compelling and honest way to communicate your point. The challenge is yours.
  • Take others at their word, and let it be their responsibility to be honest. If it turns out they're lying, stop doing business with them; stop associating with them. The challenge is theirs.

In reply to Re^2: Climbing the corporate ladder by drewbie
in thread Climbing the corporate ladder by drewbie

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