The average student who enrolls in an MBA or other degree program is looking for, quite frankly, career advancement. In the case of the “typical” student attending college immediately after high school, that means a competitive advantage when they eventually enter the workforce. The student who is already employed and enrolling in an online graduate degree program, however, is probably seeking a better position either within their current employer or with another company. In any of these cases, at some point the student will sit down, with their newly-minted degree, across a desk from an interviewer. Wouldn’t it be helpful to cite that degree program and explain how it exemplifies traits the potential employer is seeking?
Following are five qualities that employers want in prospective employees (courtesy of Forbes magazine) that can be tied directly back to an MBA program.
A proven record of success. Every new employee is a gamble to some extent. If the employer can hedge their bet in any way, so much the better, and one way to do that is to look for proof of prior success. The person who has completed an online independent study MBA has clearly accomplished something significant.
Established goals and a realistic path to accomplishment. Every employer, whether a business, nonprofit, or government agency, exists to accomplish things. They need people who understand goal-setting, including that oh-so-important component of creating a realistic plan to reach the goal. The person who has set earning an MBA as a goal, undertaken the long-term commitment needed to achieve it and has succeeded in doing so has demonstrated they clearly understand this process.
Proactive. Employers want people — and particularly people in positions of responsibility — who can assess the situation and take initiative, not people who constantly have to be told what to do. Additionally, in today’s fast-moving and highly competitive business environment, the company that merely reacts is the one that will probably fall steadily behind. Employees who remain aware of market, economic and other conditions and act in preparation for events, not in reaction to them, are highly valuable. The person who has completed an MBA program to enhance their skills and competitiveness, not because they had to in order to keep their job, clearly has a habit of thinking ahead.
Enjoys learning new things. Another aspect of the modern business environment is constant and ever more rapid change. Consider just the changes the average worker saw from 1995 to 2005, particularly in the field of technology, and what they have meant for both how work gets done and how companies do business. In 1995, Google didn’t exist. In 2003, social media didn’t exist. In 2004, YouTube didn’t exist. Yet all three have now radically changed how companies market to consumers. It stands to reason that companies want people who can adapt to change, and adapting means learning — lifelong learning. The person who committed to earning an MBA clearly enjoys learning.
Ambitious. When it comes to employees, employers don’t want drones or robots — especially not today, when plenty of jobs can be done by actual robots. Employers want initiative, interest, competitiveness, intelligence and team orientation. Those qualities are typically seen in ambitious people. Ambition in the workplace creates a win-win situation, because the employee who wants to move up will be best served by following company policies and seeking the best interests of the company. The person who chose to pursue an advanced degree probably didn’t do it to hang a pretty certificate on their wall — they did it to move ahead.
These are just a few of the attributes employers want in employees — in fact, the Forbes article from which they are drawn listed a total of twelve. There are plenty of others that can just as easily be demonstrated with a completed MBA. Good examples from the National Association of Colleges and Employers 2016 list of employer-desired attributes include problem-solving skills, a strong work ethic, organizational ability, attention to detail, technical or computer skills and written communication skills. LIkewise, a list from U.S. News & World Report included several of these, along with gems like proof that the person finishes what they start and resilience. So in addition to the hard skills an MBA provides, completing an MBA program offers easy proof that the graduate possesses plenty of the qualities employers want.