Declining unemployment figures should benefit otherwise-deserving workers who are missing one important qualification: a college degree.

“As the labor market continues to tighten, I believe that employers will need to loosen their requirements for four-year degrees, especially if there are labor shortages for certain roles,” observes Amy Stark, practice director at Helios HR, a human capital consulting firm in Reston, Virginia.

Some 36 million Americans — one in five adults — have some college credits but no degree, according to the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning.

For some jobs, like financial analysts, engineers or teachers, a four-year degree is a requisite, notes Lynn Schroeder, vice-president at CAEL.

But, “some organizations aren’t as focused on degrees because a college degree doesn’t necessarily mean the candidate has the skills that are required for a position,” Schroeder adds.

Your goal is to demonstrate your tangible abilities as they relate to the role, advises Stark. “If a role requires a minimum four-year degree and you have some college, but not a degree, be sure your resume is written to emphasize those accomplishments, which are closely related to the role to which you are applying,” she says.

As a rule of thumb, “employers expect you to have about 1.5 years of experience for each year of the degree level,” Stark adds.

For instance, someone short of a degree but with 10 years’ related experience could have a shot at a job posting for a Web developer that specifies a bachelor’s degree and four years’ experience designing and developing sites using applications such as JavaScript, HTML, CSS and JQuery.

Once they are on the job, “individuals without a degree should constantly be looking to expand their skills in their current roles so that they can better position themselves for either a promotion in their current firm, or to apply to higher level roles in another organization,” says Stark.

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