Will an MBA help enhance your career? That depends on you, on the course you choose and if you’re thinking short or long term. Let me share 8 tips with you on how you can boost your career with an MBA.
Your MBA is great. But I’m hiring people, not certificates.
One mistake that MBAs—just like other graduates really—tend to make is they expect to be hired or promoted because of the degree they have.
There may be employers out there who will hire your degree certificate, but I have never worked for or met any of them.
In most situations, your degree may guarantee you on thing: the hiring manager won’t discard your CV within 3 seconds of looking at it.
But here is what it won’t gaurantee you: that you will get an interview or be hired.
For this, you will need to convince the employer that you can do the job that they’re hiring for—and that you’re the right match for them.
So tell me: What can you offer us that other candidates can’t?
As you think about your career after the MBA, avoid this classic mistake job applicants make:
You focus too much on what you want and too little on what the employer needs.
So, rather than ask “how will the MBA help my career?” ask this:
“How will my MBA help a potential employer achieve their business goals?”
In other words, what have you learned that will benefit the employer? What difference can you make, to what area of their business? What is it that really makes you different and the better candidate to hire—not only compared to non-MBAs but also compared to other MBAs?
Work on your work experience.
To get the most out of the career opportunities an MBA qualification offers you, make sure you have a good level of work experience before starting your MBA programme.
The more selective MBA programmes in the UK will only admit you if you have at least three years’ work experience—full-time and since you have graduated from university. Many business schools will also ask for at least some managerial experience, for example experience managing people, budgets, projects, operations and so on.
Over the past years, I have met so many prospective MBAs who try to negotiate down the work requirement.
But they’re not doing themselves any favours.
A good MBA course requires you to use your professional experience in your learning to get the most out of the programme. After finishing your previous, it is your work experience that will make the biggest different to your job prospects.
Before you choose your course, have you asked employers want they want?
Another mistake would be to do your MBA first and then to look for employers who want your qualifications.
Think about it. This is completely the wrong way to go about planning your MBA career.
If you’re planning to take an MBA with a specific career aim in mind, do your research before you enrol on any course. Speak to hiring managers within the organisations you will targeting. Ask them what they look for in their candidates, what specialisation and specific skills want, and what type of MBA programmes and b-schools they hire from.
Is there an entrepreneurial project you can’t wait to launch?
I’ve known people for whom their MBA has been the inspiration and experience they have needed to start their entrepreneurial project. I’ve also known MBAs who are far from being entrepreneural and who have been in the same job for the past 10 years.
If you have the entrepreneural itch, think carefully about how the MBA programme will help you and what what kind of course you will need to attend to surround yourself with the right people.
For example, look for an MBA course with an inbuit accelerator programme. This will usually give you access to mentoring, feedback from investers and entrepreneurs on your business idea, help with resources, a work lab and much more.
Networking is an art—but are we all artists?
MBA course brochures and webpages are full of “the MBA provides students with an excellent opportunity to network and built links”.
Sadly, we’re not all great at networking. And not only because we may be introverts. But because often we misunderstand what it means to build good relations and networks.
This isn’t a case of sitting in two seminars with someone and then emailing them years later to ask for help.
You have to nurture those relationships while you’re on the course. Be helpful to people. Get involved in activities. Organise events and invite your fellow MBAs.
But don’t forget.
Choose a coure that attracts students from the countries, business sectors and industries that you see your future in. Also, make sure to find out what specific activities and events the course offers to help you develop your network.
That b-school better be the right match for you.
I don’t need to tell you about looking at the reputation and ranking of your b-school—applicants tend to do this anyway.
However, don’t take rankings at face value. Make sure to look carefully behind the headlines to understand what they mean and how much weight they should have on your choices.
In addition, make sure to choose a school that offers you the specialisation you’re looking for.
Also, b-school location is very important. Not only because this is where you will be spending the next year or two. But also because of the business sectors and industries that you can find there, and the opportunities this brings in terms of placements and faculty-business relations.
Update that CV and LinkedIn profile
When you update your CV, don’t simply add your MBA and leave your poast experience and achievements as you’d written about them before.
After your MBA, you should be able to use the new concepts and knowledge you’ve acquired to reevaluate what you’ve done in the past. In other ways, look for ways to improve your overall CV.
LinkedIn in your online CV. So make sure to work on that LinkedIn profile also.
The answer to the question ‘does an MBA help your career’ is—yes, of course it does, but it’s up to you to make it.
An MBA will add a very valuable qualification to your CV, but, on its own, it won’t be enough to secure you your dream job.
Before you start your MBA course, look carefully at what the role and business sector that in future you want to work in require in terms of skills and knowledge.
Once on the MBA programme treat your assignments, activities and projects as an opportunity to develop those skills. Think about how you could do it in a way to add them as achievements to your CV and your LinkedIn profile.
An MBA is a huge personal and professional development opportunity— make it count.