What Is Your M.B.A. Worth?

Is a masters of business administration still the ticket to success?

qualified applicants to find good jobs because there are not enough of them to go around. Independent executive search consultant Kevin Martin, who operates Beyond-Search out of Santa Fe Springs, California, says the tight job market may seem especially unfair to holders of M.B.A. degrees who are unemployed or underemployed, but they shouldn’t lose hope.

“Things may look bad now, but this is actually a good time to look for a job,” says Martin, who holds an M.B.A. from U.C.L.A. “Learning to look for a job in a tough market makes you that much better at finding a job and selling yourself when things return to normal.”

Martin also points out that within three to five years, the demand for highly skilled M.B.A.s should increase significantly because the demographics of the workforce is shifting. People in today’s job market will benefit “because more people are retiring and the acceptance of blacks in the marketplace is becoming more commonplace, so there should be more opportunities and less racism in the future.”

For those M.B.A.’s who are desperately seeking a position to match their credentials, Martin says they must become expert at selling themselves to corporate America immediately. Coming up with a personal employment pitch will be essential to their efforts to realize the total worth of their M.B.A. degree. To aid in the search, he offers the following advice:

1. Be your own search consultant
Martin says take control of your job search by applying the skills that you learned in business school to your search for the job that is right for you. “Analyze and research the marketplace and determine what you bring to the table,” he emphasizes. Then, “see what other resources you have to assist you and put together a business plan for how you are going to serve the marketplace with your product–you.”
Don’t just respond blindly to postings on Internet job boards. Use alumni groups, friends, and relatives to establish contacts at the companies you are most interested in to help you navigate through the application process.

2. Determine your personal competitive advantage
Rewrite your résumé using the STAR method (situation, task, analysis, results). It helps you show what you achieved at every stage of your career. “You must explain what you’ve accomplished or learned from what you’ve done,” says Martin. “Be descriptive and highlight all accomplishments or achievements on your résumé and during all interviews.”
For example, you should highlight the amount of money you generated for, or saved a company, or explain how the work process became more efficient as a result of your efforts. “You must explain how what you know can be advantageous to the perspective employer.”

3. Focus on positive activity, not the outcome
“The problem with a job search is that every time you hear ‘no,’ it depresses you and makes you not want to continue the search,” says Martin. He says dealing with rejection is a reality for everyone who looks for work–the trick is to not let it defeat you.
Martin suggests that job hunters focus on what they

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