Even With an MBA, You Won’t Get the Job

It wasn’t until the 16th century did people begin to accept that the Earth was not the center of the universe. Likewise, MBA graduates are slow to realize that their MBA title is not their shiny golden ticket to any job they want.

An MBA or Masters level program takes dedication, hard work, a lot of effort, and has its value. It can help distinguish you from other candidates, it gives you broad knowledge on business, it allows for personal reflection, it is an avenue for networking, and much more. All things which are good - great even. However, let’s remember to keep it in perspective.

It’s easy to think that you are part of an elite group of people who had the discipline, support, financial means (or not), and strength to continue your education beyond an undergraduate degree. You did it! Congrats! Consider this your official hurrah from a stranger that believes you are exceptional and special.

Ok, now that’s over.

During an interview with a professional executive recruiter, he made sure to point out that “getting an MBA is critical, but [his] colleagues don’t always care”. Your MBA might be your foot in the door, but your MBA or Masters Degree is not going to get you the job. It’s important to remember that the value of hard work is the work itself, not the praise that comes from it.

Here are two big issues that come from receiving your MBA.

One, during an interview, a candidate that boasts about their MBA might sound cocky. Instead, you can strategically inject your accomplishment during interview questions as points of experiences. Examples include:

  • Throughout the program, I was able to work on projects that provided real work experience in XYZ.  

  • Because of the program, I refined my skills during CourseName.

  • Although I have never done X task you mention, I did something similar in the MBA program. In project Y, I worked on…

These are some easy ways to slip in your MBA achievement beyond the resume without sounding braggy.

The second issue with recent MBA graduates is that they rely on their MBA to get the job for them. You still have to put in the legwork, research, be on time, prepare, and follow up with a thank-you note. It’s important to not use your MBA as a crutch.

Newsflash - Someone without a graduate degree might be more persuasive during the interview, have a better resume, or have stronger references. You cannot rely on those three letters ‘M-B-A’ to get you the job. You only have yourself. The experience and knowledge you take away from the program are what you are paying for, not just the title. The title might get you a handshake that leads to your interview, but if you flop during the interview...no one can help you then.

Keep in mind that you are more than an MBA title; your experiences, your skills, your perspective, and values all are important to the interviewer. Next time, practice a little restraint and focus on tangible things that will benefit the company and help them realize you’re the solution to their problem with little mention of the MBA.

Let me know how that works for you in the comments.