How many hours have you spent searching for jobs on websites like LinkedIn, Glassdoor, or Indeed? How many times have you found the perfect position only to learn that you aren’t qualified due to some specific requirement you never saw coming?
Competition in the job market today is fierce, and many employers have become much stricter about their candidate requirements. In fact, a recent study by Glassdoor for Employers proves how difficult it can be to make a good first impression:
- On average, every corporate job opening attracts 250 resumes
- Only 4-6 of those applicants will be called in for an interview
It’s more important than ever to find a way to set yourself apart from the crowd, and one of the most effective ways to get a leg up on the competition is with a Masters in Business Administration (MBA). An applicant with an MBA degree may more easily receive an interview—and the job offer—over competition with fewer relevant degrees. Many job descriptions even specify that the company requires or at least prefers to hire someone with an MBA.
So what kind of advantages does an MBA offer, and why do employers think it is so important?
Key advantages to having an MBA when applying for jobs
1. MBAs deliver managerial skills many other applicants don’t
Unless you have directly managed a team of employees in your current or previous position, chances are you don’t automatically have proof of your managerial or leadership skills. With an MBA, employers feel confident in your ability to manage a team because it is a primary focus of any MBA program. To have that vote of confidence without actually having real-life job experience in a managerial position can boost your chances significantly of getting in the door.
If you already have managerial experience prior to earning an MBA, your degree only solidifies the confidence an employer has in your ability to supervise employees or entire departments. Managerial experience in conjunction with an MBA degree also means you have better leverage and demonstrable value when it comes time to negotiate your starting pay and signing bonus.
2. MBAs can manage a vast professional network
Employers know that MBA graduates have learned the importance of networking and can bring those communication and relationship-building skills to their company. Those skills can be vital for growing the company’s own network of clients, partners, and investors.
MBA graduates may have initially laid the foundation for their professional network long before actually starting their MBA program, but more connections mean more opportunities. In an MBA program, you build relationships with peers, the school’s alumni, professors, and other faculty, who come from a wide range of professional backgrounds and may become vital contacts in the future.
A business school’s network helps the MBA grad learn how how to build relationships and manage a vast network of colleagues, clients, and mentors while also, of course, serving him or her as a job applicant. Someone who works at a company of interest or knows someone else who works there could be within an MBA’s network, and that “in” could be the final push to receive a job offer.
3. MBAs offer sharpened critical thinking skills
Critical thinking is a cornerstone of higher education, but an MBA program enhances and sharpens that level of critical thinking. Through rigorous practical application of complex business concepts to solve real-world problems, MBA graduates can entertain a diverse range of opinions while deducing which solution is best for a particular circumstance.
That kind of intuitiveness and quick thinking is vital in high-pressure business scenarios, deal-making, presentations, and other interactions and decision-making tasks. You don’t have to have an MBA to attain this level of critical thinking but the MBA degree suggests this automatically to potential employers and investors.
4. MBAs understand and apply strategic prioritization
In any management position, you will likely wear many hats and oversee many different types of tasks at once. Your time is valuable as is your company’s and your employees’. Understanding which tasks are most important to complete in which order is fundamental to being an effective manager.
While earning your MBA degree, you gain an understanding and application of strategic prioritization from completing the coursework and participating in class discussion. The value of these skills appears at both macro and micro levels. In class, you learn the ins and outs of setting strategic priorities for teams and organizations—macro applications you could apply at your current job or one to which you are applying.
These prioritization strategies also apply on a micro level to your own personal life. This includes in the curriculum itself as you juggle a heavy course load and the endless stream of new information that comes with it. At the same time, you must also balance that coursework against a slew of co-curricular options that build your knowledge and skill sets alongside class time and other non-educational commitments
An MBA degree signals to prospective employers that you have experience honing these skills which can give you a competitive advantage over much of the candidate pool.
5. MBAs prove they can fit within an organization culture
According to the GMAC Recruiters’ Survey, employers ranked a candidate’s ability to fit within an organizational culture as the most desirable trait for MBA graduates. This makes sense when you consider how important it is to morale and teamwork to have shared values driving aims and actions.
Additionally, in the process of applying to business school, MBA students gain experience in choosing--and being chosen--for fit with culture and in living or reflecting an organization’s values. This helps them make a better decision when it’s time to choose a workplace.
An employer’s confidence in your alignment with company culture is an extremely valuable part of earning an MBA degree.
With these five core skills and a number of other benefits you gain with an MBA degree, it’s easy to see why employers often select MBA graduates over others—or even require an MBA. If you’re interested in acquiring this edge for yourself (along with other tangible and intangible assets you may have yet to consider), you might want to check out our post on 16 benefits of an MBA.