Whether you are an MBA alumnus or are considering going back to school for an advanced degree, one of your first questions is likely what can you do after getting your MBA?
An MBA can help kickstart your career, but it’s not enough to simply earn your degree and see what happens. It’s important to take the time to develop your resume and portfolio, which is how you present yourself to future employers. While it can feel daunting to market yourself in this way, doing so after completing a demanding program is essential for standing apart from other candidates.
Here are some tips for how to market yourself after getting your MBA, along with some career opportunities to consider.
How to Market Yourself to Potential Employers
When you chose to get your MBA, you likely had a specific reason in mind. Perhaps you wanted to change your career path, gain new skills, or be eligible for a larger salary. No matter your goal, however, you must be able to market yourself — through your resume and other means — to achieve it.
Here are five ways you can do so:
1. Establish your personal brand
According to Indeed, your personal brand is often the first thing employers use to gain a first impression of you. This goes beyond the written words on a resume or professional biography. Consider how businesses use photographs, fonts, and logos to capture a consumer’s attention — you can do the same when applying for positions with an MBA.
The employment website elaborated that your personal brand should remain consistent on all forms of social media, your physical resume, and cover letters. This can include things like a professional photograph, a logo or unique color combination, and a personal branding statement that explains your skills and work experience (including your MBA).
Creating a strong personal brand will help employers remember your skills and the value you could bring to the business.
2. Be specific about your skill set
On the topic of discussing your personal skills and experience, it’s important to be specific about them in your resume and other professional channels. It’s not enough to say you received an advanced degree or had previous experiences in the field: You should explicitly state what you have learned over the course of your career.
MBA programs prepare you with a wide range of skills, including global leadership, research, problem solving, and communication capabilities that you have honed through classes and experiential learning. A prospective employer will want to know all of this, but even more specifically they are looking to understand how your skills will help the company.
Make sure to update your resume depending on where you are applying to market the skills most important to the employer who will be reviewing your portfolio.
3. Improve your online presence
Gone are the days where an employer would base their hiring decisions solely upon resumes, interviews, and references. While these are still important parts of the hiring process, recruiters are also searching the web for more information about applicants. According to research from The Manifest, 98% of employers reported doing background research about candidates online. This includes professional networking platforms such as LinkedIn, and other social media networks like Facebook or Twitter as well.
For this reason, it’s important for MBA students and graduates who are looking for job opportunities to tailor their online presence. They should ensure personal social media accounts are set to private and their public accounts are consistent with their professional brand and updated regularly. Crafting your own professional website that houses your resume, portfolio, and other unique information that an employer may be interested in is another way to effectively market yourself.
4. Become an expert in your chosen niche
It’s never too early to begin immersing yourself in your chosen industry. Your MBA degree has given you knowledge and experience in the field of your choosing, so now it’s time to begin doing your own research and networking.
Joining professional associations in your chosen field doesn’t have to wait until you have a position lined up. Begin connecting with others already in your field to learn more about what employers are looking for and maybe even find out which companies are hiring.
Additionally, you should be following industry news to stay informed on breakthroughs in your field. New trends and changes can help you stay on top of potential positions and up-and-coming job opportunities. For instance, reaching out to the hiring manager of a company that just won a major contract demonstrates your industry awareness and offers an unbeatable first impression.
5. Make sure you can translate your written skills in person
You can have an impressive resume and online presence, but if you aren’t able to articulate all of your skills during an interview it could be for naught. It’s easy to fill your resume up with impressive words and phrasing to explain your experience, but you must also be able to verbally express your expertise. Practice your elevator pitch to ensure it includes all the highlights of your portfolio, education, strengths, and skills with a strong closing line.
This will show an employer that your communication skills are just as strong as your written resume. How you present yourself in your interview and other networking events plays an important part in marketing yourself, so ensure you can eloquently talk about yourself in professional conversations as well.
Career Options to Consider
These are just some of the overarching strategies you can use to market yourself for an MBA job. The skills you highlight and how you brand yourself, though, depends heavily on your chosen career path. When you graduate with an MBA degree, you will find plenty of job opportunities waiting for you.
Here are some of the MBA careers you can embark on with your graduate degree and specifics for how to market yourself for them:
If you excel in both organization and communication, being a project manager may be the best position for your skills. These professionals typically oversee company initiatives and difficult group assignments all the way through the project life cycle.
For this reason, project managers must have a very broad skill set that they should make clear to employers. For this role, you should market your experience initiating, planning, and executing projects in a professional setting. Providing examples of initiatives you started and completed showcases the organizational and leadership skills that an employer is looking for.
Creating a professional website for this career is important because it can house your completed work in more detail than a resume. When a potential employer searches for you on the internet, this will likely come up and help form their first impression of your professional brand.
Similar to project managers, this role is responsible for overseeing a large workflow within the organization. More specifically, operations managers are responsible for governing activities related to the production of goods and services. They initiate, design, and control operations to ensure workflows and supply chains are efficient.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook and average salary for management positions is positive. From 2019 to 2029, employment in management occupations (including project management) is projected to grow 5%. This is faster than the average growth for all occupations, which is a positive sign for new graduates on this career path.
This growth is attributed to the formation of new organizations and the expansion of existing ones, but it’s still important to market yourself for this role. Discuss your experience with operations management and highlight any processes you helped optimize. If you are interested in a specific industry, like health care management, make sure to continuously broaden your subject matter expertise to grow your professional network and job opportunities.
If finance is your decided area of study, becoming an analyst is an ideal next step after receiving your MBA. Financial analysts can work in a number of different industries, but banks, investment firms, and businesses seek out their services the most. That’s because this role is essential for helping businesses make profitable investment decisions and mitigate risks.
The outlook for this career path is also strong. The BLS projected that employment of financial analysts will grow 5% from 2019 to 2029, the same as for management positions. This is, in part, due to the constant need businesses have for their services and understanding how to invest across different geographic regions.
A financial analyst with an MBA can market their skills in finance and accounting along with their knowledge of investment strategies. Similarly, you can include your experience with different financial tools and applications on your resume. This may appeal to employers looking for fresh ideas or those that want to hire someone who can begin working with technology quickly.
A career in human resource management is even more lucrative, as the BLS projected employment for this position to grow 6% between 2019 and 2029. This is because nearly every industry needs someone dedicated to administering and monitoring employee programs. A human resource manager with an MBA stays on top of changing employment laws to ensure the company is complying with them. They also understand what is needed to attract and retain top talent through employee perks and benefits programs.
It’s important for HR managers to balance innovation and compliance in their role and showcase these skills to employers. Put together a portfolio of programs you created in past positions, or present fresh ideas about HR to an employer depending on their industry. Experience and education are the most important things to market for this position.
If you received an MBA in IT, you likely have a passion for technology and business management. Indeed explained that an IT manager typically plans, directs, and oversees a company’s computer and information systems. They are experts about the business and the technology it needs, so they work to coordinate jobs related to hardware, software, and business users.
As with other management roles, it’s important that an IT professional knows how to problem-solve and optimize an organization’s information systems for the long run. They should be well versed in systems management and recommend upgrades and enhancements to other managers. If the advice is approved, they will then develop and oversee new IT implementations and policies.
IT managers must also be able to communicate with others in the organization — especially business users, whom they will be training on the new policies.
Marketing is a core function of every company, and the manager is responsible for ensuring everything is aligned. From branding and messaging to channels and target audiences, marketing managers are in charge of overseeing an entire campaign and general strategies to completion. Not only must they come up with creative ways to position the business, they also need to carefully manage marketing resources.
Having a clear personal brand is important for this role, because as a marketing manager you would be responsible for the entire company’s brand. Make sure your resume, cover letter, and online presence are all cohesive. Branded imagery is a plus, as this role requires some creativity.
An MBA Can Give You the Skills to Market Yourself
No matter which professional career you embark on, earning an MBA can help you learn how to market yourself and set your skills apart from the competition. Washington University’s Online Master of Business Administration program is helping working professionals become modern business leaders at their convenience.
The WSU Online MBA can equip you with the high-level management skills and strategies necessary to enter your career field of choice. Learn more about how WSU is bringing disruptive innovation to business education and apply to the Online MBA program today.
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How to Market Yourself to Potential Employers by Indeed
5 Personal Branding Tips for Your Job Search by The Manifest
Management Occupations by The Bureau of Labor Statistics
Financial Analysts by The Bureau of Labor Statistics
Human Resource Managers by The Bureau of Labor Statistics