I've seen it so many times: When the going gets tough, people resort to the traditional means of adding more credentials and qualifications to their resumes.
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Before you do it, too, you need to seriously ask yourself why. Is this just your way of trying to look more attractive to hiring managers, or is it for you – because you want to do this? There is a difference, and if you want to do this for yourself, then go for it!
However, if you think extra credentials are going to save you from unemployment or be enough on their own to get a job, you should know that may not be the case!
Those fancy LinkedIn profiles make me laugh. People can talk all day about the Ivy League colleges they went to, but these types of profiles do not tell me why I should employ you. Why are you different? Which problems within my company can you solve? How is your MBA going to help my company?
See the difference?
An MBA – by Itself – Won't Get You Hired
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Sorry, but it won't. I'm not opposed to learning and self-development. In fact, I love it!
All I'm saying say is that you need to work out the reason behind your decision to go for an MBA (or a similar degree/credential) because, often, the reason will turn out to be flawed. If a company doesn't think that you understand its needs or can solve its problems, all the credentials in the world won't get you hired.
Before you commit to spending tens of thousands on a course, do your homework. Answer this question: How will this course help you get a job?
Investigate the destinations of students who have completed the course. Did they get hired? How many months did it take? This information is usually called the "destination rates" of students, and many universities record this data. You should be able to find it with a little digging.
Also find out how much support the career department will give you. How many advisers does the program have? Are they overstretched for the number of students?
Beware of vague promises in advertising materials, such as "two students who got their MBAs here now work at Google!" Get the hard facts instead.
Related: Going Back to School May Be Easier Than You Think
Supplement Your MBA With a Strong Career Strategy
Ultimately, companies need to know that you exist and what you can offer them.
From day one, you need to have a career strategy in place. This does not mean simply sending your resume to every vacancy you see advertised. A true career strategy is a whole different ball game.
Before you spend any money on a course, you need to consider how you can spend some time and effort on career management and your long-term plan.
People need to know who you are today. Yes, today! Not at the end of your course – which, unfortunately, is exactly what everyone waits for. You need to completely change this process!
People in your target industry need to know your name, what you can offer them, and the problems you can solve. This information forms the basis of your "unique selling point."
They care little about your MBA or other qualifications (unless, of course, they are necessary to performing the job). Yes, an MBA is nice to have and shows a certain level of commitment, but it's not the be-all and end-all. It won't necessarily give you the winning factor you need to get the job!
Companies have problems; that's why they recruit new people. Those companies need to know that you can solve their problems. They need to know who you are, which means you need to shout your name and abilities to your chosen industry. Employers in the field need to know what you can do for them. This is the only way you are going to get companies chasing you.
How Do You Get Yourself Known in Your Field?
There are so many ways! Here are just a couple
Put yourself forward as a keynote speaker or, at the very least, volunteer to speak at networking events.
Become known as a thought leader by equipping yourself with real-time knowledge of industry trends and emerging ideas and then sharing that knowledge with others.
You can constantly update your knowledge without studying for an MBA! Write articles and blog posts. Be active in industry social media groups. Create a bio for yourself that tells a compelling story and pushes your unique selling point.
No doubt you've heard all this before, so if you want a completely different slant on things, learn to treat LinkedIn as your personal database.
Think about what I'm saying for a second. Most people treat LinkedIn as a pretty profile, but in all honesty, it's actually your own personal database that allows you to connect with anyone – if you know how to use it, that is!
Now, which is more powerful: that MBA, or the ability to learn how to connect with and influence hiring managers, thereby convincing them to chase you?
Only you know the answer!