Leveraging your Advanced Degree while Looking for a Job

So you've just completed your Master's degree (or doctorate), and after all that time spent in school, you're finally back out on the job market. You're probably praying that those extra years of schooling will help you professionally, especially considering that most jobs don't really require advanced degrees. In my experience as a hiring manager, and in the experience of other employers with whom I've spoken, many job applicants with advanced degrees feel entitled to jobs and higher wages as a result of their schooling. But in reality, most employers don't care about the degree itself; rather, they care about how you will use that degree. Here's how to make sure that your Master's or PhD works in your favor:

1. Discuss in your cover letter exactly what you learned in school that will benefit the specific position to which you are applying.

As noted, employers don't really care about the diploma itself. At most, it demonstrates that you are capable of completing an advanced degree, which may indicate that you have a strong work ethic. Employers are instead more interested in knowing what specific skills you learned while pursuing your degree that can be directly applied to the position you are currently seeking. For example, if you are applying for a marketing position, discuss marketing classes you may have taken while pursuing an MBA.

2. During interviews, never belabor the fact that you got an advanced degree. Make it only part of what you have to offer.

When you hinge the reasons for hiring you solely on the fact that you have an advanced degree, employers will not be impressed. An advanced degree is helpful as a supplement to your other experiences. When you come in for an interview, of course, discuss what you learned in school, but also be sure to explain your past work, internship, or personal experiences that may fit with the job you are now applying for.

3. List professors as references who can, in detail, speak to your work ethic and ability in getting a specific job done.

Solid references are a very important part of any job search endeavor. Typically, including three references along with your application materials is standard. Be sure to include one past work reference, but choosing professor references can be extremely beneficial. When picking professors, be sure you choose instructors who know you quite well and who've taught you in courses that relate to the position to which you're applying.

Unfortunately, many employers may even be a bit suspicious of those who've pursued Master's degrees, especially in unrelated fields. As long as you present your degree as a pursuit that you took on because of your passion for that subject, and as long as you highlight other relevant attributes, your degree can certainly help you in your job search. Good luck!

Amanda Watson is a blogger who loves to share her passion for online higher education with her many readers. She gladly dispenses online mba advice and shares her wisdom for all things related to getting a degree online and finding a job afterwards. Send her an email at watsonamanda.48@gmail.com.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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