Career development in marketing: postgraduate degrees
Sean Rogerson from Michael Page Marketing explores the relevance of a postgraduate degree in advancing your marketing career.
There is an ongoing debate around the importance of postgrad qualifications in the workplace and whether they improve a professional’s chances of getting a job. In a competitive market having highly developed skills and experience is definitely a must in ensuring you stand out, and in some industries this can only be achieved through further study. However, what benefits will further study have on your career in marketing? Will it make you better at your job and therefore able to command a higher salary? Or will it allow you to progress in your chosen career quicker?
Working in recruitment I have found that a postgraduate qualification can indeed lead to a more employable, more efficient, better paid candidate - but sometimes it doesn’t. It’s difficult to determine the exact advantages and benefits of further study simply because there are so many different postgrad courses available and no one job, or business, looking to hire an exact type of person. Each position requires unique skill sets and no two businesses are exactly alike. Ultimately, there is no right or wrong answer to whether or not postgraduate degrees can add real value to an individual’s career, although based on recent trends in recruitment it is possible to gauge their significance in the current market.
At present, postgraduate degrees are a ‘nice-to-have’ qualification for marketing roles and are rarely a ‘must-have’ requirement. If you do have a postgrad qualification it is important to find a strong connection between what you have studied and why it makes you a more suitable candidate for a particular job. Taking the time to complete further study does not automatically position you as the preferred choice, more often employers will look for real world experience coupled with academic background and theory to underpin it.
Having a qualification from the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), from a foundation certificate to a postgraduate diploma, is currently viewed as quite valuable in the eyes of employers as members of CIM are recognised as actively engaged marketing professionals. Like with postgrad degrees however, having this qualification doesn’t automatically make you a better candidate. Thorough preparation for any job interview should always include careful consideration as to how your studies directly link to the role you are applying for.
If you have taken the time to complete further study, it is important to determine the additional skills and experience you have gained over and beyond those you already had, and ultimately those that other candidates may not possess. We aim to help candidates bring their experience and qualifications to life, to showcase how their postgrad degree enhances their suitability for a role and can add value to the business that they want to join. We typically do this on a case-by-case basis, depending on the role a candidate is applying for. In order to effectively align qualifications with a specific role it is important to identify the key requirements of a successful candidate and recognise unique skill sets that would enable an individual to perform more efficiently.
If employers aren’t specifically seeking a candidate with a postgraduate degree or the interviewer doesn’t have a similar qualification, further study can often be overlooked, so the onus it is on the candidate to sell the benefit themselves.
Overall, further study is generally seen as a positive by most employers. When looking for a new job as a postgraduate, ensure you highlight the commitment required to successfully complete a postgrad degree and discuss the reasons why you took the time to do it in the first place. Whether you wanted to better yourself and become more knowledgeable about a subject that you are passionate about or to become more effective at work, the key is understanding how useful the additional skills and experience can be to the specific role you are applying for. Ask yourself, how can my new-found skills and knowledge benefit the business? In what way will these skills directly contribute to my efficiency in the role?
If you’re considering investing in a postgraduate course, before you enrol, determine exactly what you want to get out of it. Postgraduate degrees can give you a competitive advantage over other candidates, especially when specialising in a niche marketing sector. You are demonstrating a willingness to learn and adapt with the continually evolving industry and changing consumer, and business buying behaviours. If the qualification is directly linked to the career you want to pursue then a postgrad could really help, especially as roles within marketing are becoming increasingly specialised. At a senior level MBA experience demonstrates a high level of commercial acumen which can be a great way to differentiate oneself from other candidates and gain a competitive edge, but don’t forget, employers will always put a premium on real-world experience.
If you would like to discuss the relevance of a postgraduate degree for your career or advice on how to make the most of your studies, please get in touch today.
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