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Advanced Marketing Education

What I look for when I interview candidates for a job.

"Should I get an MBA? A Masters in Marketing? A certification?"

These are all common questions asked by marketers early in their career. I don’t know if there is any one right answer to these questions. A lot of it depends on your personal situation, what’s important to you, and where you want to go with your career. All I can tell you is what I look for when I interview candidates.

Depending on the role that I am interviewing the candidate for, an MBA or other advanced degree is either a negative or a positive. Most people don’t normally admit to having a bias against advanced degrees so let me explain.

I think it’s generally a waste of time, effort and money to go directly from an undergraduate degree into a graduate program. If you have no experience to relate it to, the learning is “all academic” as they say. For most roles, I would much rather hire a candidate who has real world experience and good solid results to show for it than a candidate with an advanced degree and little experience.

That changes a bit as you reach the upper echelons of marketing management. If you want someone who needs to look at the business holistically and help set corporate direction, an MBA is an asset. Preferably, this is an executive who received their MBA after they had ten or more years under their belt.

That being said, an MBA isn’t always necessary. In the interest of full disclosure, I don’t have one. However, I don’t think it’s kept me from advancing in my own career. Performance speaks volumes.

I like to see candidates that are actively involved with marketing organizations and who have taken the time to attend conferences, but I believe going the extra step of earning a certification is unnecessary. It’s the law of diminishing returns. I’d rather see someone get back to the office and put what they learned into delivering results than someone who took the extra time to study for an exam.

If I were managing an agency with a deep focus on a specific discipline such as advertising or public relations I might think differently. I am sure there are marketing disciplines where certain certifications are a “must have.” If your career goal is to work in any of these disciplines be sure to talk with professionals in those fields.

Marketing Degrees
I do have a marketing degree but I have to say that I don’t look for candidates with marketing degrees. It's a plus but not a must have. I’d rather hire someone with a computer science degree and a “marketing personality” if you know what I mean. I can teach them the 4Ps (or 5Ps depending on how you count them.) One of the best marketers I know has an electrical engineering degree. I just cannot picture him as an engineering student but he swears that he was.

I’ll go into the attributes of what a “marketing personality” is in a later post. It may not be what you think.

Continuous Learning
For all my promotion of on-the-job experience, I think marketers must continue their learning. This does not need to be formal. Luckily, the internet has a plethora of ways you can get some great informal education. More about these in my next post.

Meanwhile, I’d like to hear from those of you who have taken the time to get advanced degrees and those who haven’t. What’s been the impact on your marketing career? For those of you that have the opportunity to hire marketers, what do you look for in your ideal candidate? Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

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