First impressions are infinitely valuable. As much as we like to think that we embody the words our second grade teachers told us (“Don’t judge a book by it’s cover”), we all do. It’s human nature. It’s proven that humans form their initial impressions and perceptions of others within the first few seconds of interacting.
This poses an interesting quandary: do we simply fold under the difficulty of creating a good impression, or do we take the challenge with open arms and master the craft of creating a good impression?
The most important element in meeting any challenge is the right set of tools. If you want to chop down a tree, you need an axe. If you want to hit a ball, you need a bat. If you want to make a good impression in an interview, you need a good elevator pitch.
Mastering the elevator pitch is a challenge in and of itself. It’s having to answer “What do you do?” in a matter of seconds. It’s having to validate yourself as worth someone else’s time. Think about being in an interview and having the interviewer say, “Tell me a little about yourself.” Responding to this is more difficult than it seems. What qualifies as “a little”? What do they want to hear? The elevator pitch solves this conundrum and offers a means of conveying yourself in a positive light.
The elevator pitch draws its name from the following situation: you happen to encounter someone in the elevator whom you’ve been wanting to interact with for quite some time – it could be an executive at your company, or simply someone who would be a vital member of your professional network. These thirty seconds that you have in the elevator with this person are your golden opportunity to impress and make your strong first impression. By making the most of the small amount of time you have with them, you increase your chances of the person making more time for you. The same principles in the elevator apply in the first thirty seconds of a job interview. You’re probably going to be asked to paint a more realistic image of yourself than your resume provides. This is your pitch, and it establishes a strong foundation for the interview to build on.
Before getting into the particulars of a good elevator pitch, keep in mind that despite its name, the elevator pitch can happen anywhere. Regardless of where or how you come across a person you want to make a strong first impression with, break your encounter down into the following elements and I assure you your book cover will be enough to get the person to want to read more.
If you want someone to listen to you, wow them. Your “wow” needn’t be a whole production, but enough to grab their interest. In fact, it’s not unrealistic to think that merely going out of your way to introduce yourself will be enough of a wow factor. If you think that this is the case with the person you’re pursuing, you’re golden. If not, offer up something interesting. Share a little factoid. mention something in the news. Whatever you do, get them on the hook.
If you’re in a job interview, your wow factor will vary slightly. If you went to a particularly notable school, share it. If you’ve got something on your resume that you’re sure sets you apart, mention it. If you’re familiar with some of the work the company has done, discuss your admiration of it.
Once you’ve got the person on the hook, reel them in by offering a succinct but comprehensive introduction of who you are. Chances are the person is wondering who you are, so give them a little taste that will leave them wanting to know more.
Once you’ve started interacting with the person, they’re likely to have gone from wondering who you are to why you’re interesting in talking with them or in the position you’re applying for. And you should tell them. Be direct, and be honest; don’t sugarcoat the truth. Being clear as to why you’re talking to them or why you’re interviewing allows you to proceed to…
You have a purpose for talking to this person or interviewing with them and they know it. Make it clear, and inform them of what you want out of them or the position. A well constructed “what” element is essential for you to get to your…
A great elevator pitch is only going to have a duration of about thirty seconds, and it’s chock-full of information about you. Your bottom line is what’s going to resonate with the person you’re looking to leave an impression with. It should wrap up everything you’ve said and include your call to action: I’d love to speak more with you.
You don’t want to be overzealous in your pitch. You’re only providing the essential information about you and what you want as a means of grabbing their interest and making a lasting impression. It’s truly a difficult thing to do, but it’s masterable with practice. Take some time to write down a response to “Tell me a little about yourself.” It’s a great way to put yourself in perspective and will allow you to see yourself from someone else’s point of view.
The goal of any interaction should be to put your best self forward. This is especially true when you’re seeking to make a strong impression in an interview. You’re not going to use your elevator pitch every day, but you want to have it well-constructed so that when you do use it, it’s an enticing cover to the book of you.
|Print article||This entry was posted by pyramid-admin on June 17, 2013 at 1:41 pm, and is filed under Interview. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|
Robert Greene is generally regarded as the first person to use the phrase “jack of all trades, master of none” in 1592 as a dismissive reference to the growingly popular William Shakespeare. As far as I’m concerned Greene missed his mark when he offered this “insult.” With a plethora of hilarious Elizabethan insults at his fingertips – seriously people called one another “beetle-headed” and “flap-eared knaves” – he decided to go with one under the guise of an aphorism. Lame. It’s like going into a candy store and buying Raisinettes; the thin layer of chocolate covering the raisins doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s a fruit and your judgment could have been better.
Greene’s words carried a different weight in Elizabethan England than they do in the 21st Century, but the implication remains largely the same. Calling someone a “jack of all trades, master of none” suggests that the person’s knowledge has a broad scope but narrow breadth: they know a little about a lot, but not a lot about a little.
I had often wondered whether it was better to be the jack of all trades or a master at one. The reality is that each has its merits and disadvantages. Having knowledge about a variety of things is great, so long as your knowledge goes deeper than the surface and it isn’t deemed as useless. Being a master at anything is always good, but not at the expense of your knowledge of other subject matter.
I’m normally a very decisive person, and I’m guilty of having chastised those who are not. Despite my typical disposition, whenever the “jack of all trades” came up in conversation I would assume the role of the Swiss: I didn’t want to choose lest I alienate the opposition. Besides, I generally agreed with both arguments and didn’t want to make up my mind. That is until I was offered a third choice in the matter.
While speaking to a friend about her job I kept getting the feeling that she played the role of the jack at her company. As an account manager at a marketing firm, she mentioned how her role required her to dip her pen into a variety of inks around the office. When I told her that it seemed like she was a jack-of-all-trades (not as an insult), she responded with one of the most valuable pieces of insight I have henceforth received: it’s not about being the jack or the master, it’s about being the master at being the jack.
I was rendered speechless. Her remark got me thinking: could it be that for centuries people have been looking at the dilemma in the wrong way? I’m not trying to compare my friend to a philosopher, but isn’t it possible that she offered an enlightened perspective much the same as an Aristotle?
After being exposed to this perspective on the jack and the master I can say that I’ve fully subscribed to the notion that both the jack and the master can succeed, but it is the person who becomes a master at being the jack that truly strives – especially in the business world. The person whose expertise is a broad range of capabilities and intelligence will get farther than the master or the jack.
For many, becoming a manager or supervisor is the pinnacle of their career. In most cases, though, the manager is the best at doing a lot of things – not the best at each individual thing, but the best at all the things holistically. They’re the ones who are good enough to be noticed, but even better at getting others noticed. Their knowledge and expertise is in doing many things well, and they make everyone working around and with them better in doing so. These are people who set the bar higher by not settling.
The fact of the matter is that being a jack-of-all-trades or a master at one both have their values. As a jack, dive deeper. As a master, reach wider. My friend opened my eyes to the reality that you don’t have to settle for being the master or the jack. The key is striving to be good at being good; the master at being the jack.
|Print article||This entry was posted by pyramid-admin on June 5, 2013 at 12:41 pm, and is filed under Chronicles For Candidates, Mentionings, On The Job. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|
From a young age we are told that perfection is unattainable. Yet despite this, it seems to be human nature to strive for seemingly unreachable goals. Somewhere along the journey, we discover that while perfection inevitably remains out of reach, excellence is always within our grasp. Big or small, we are defined by the quality of the work and efforts that we put forward.
In 2003, Pyramid Consulting Group was founded with a simple goal: provide personalized recruiting service for companies in need of exceptional employees. As the company grew, our desire for perfection remained unaltered, capturing excellence along the way.
Ten years have gone by, and Pyramid exudes excellence in all that it does. Our incredible portfolio of clients and our amazing team of recruiters remain unmatched. We develop and maintain lasting relationships with job-seekers and embody a productive environment rooted in loyalty and professionalism. The individuals that we work with each day allow us to do what we love.
Excellence is, by its very nature, fleeting. It is never enough to grab hold of it and simply rest on one’s laurels. With this in mind Pyramid remains steadfast in being progressive in the industry as to maintain a position of prominence. An environment changes with time, but it is those who adapt to change that succeed.
We reflect on ten years of excellence not as a model for replication, but as motivation to continue to outdo ourselves and grow as a company and as a resource. It is with much gratitude that we thank all of those who have been a part of tour past ten years and look forward to what is to come.
As the old maxim says, “Choose a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.”
|Print article||This entry was posted by pyramid-admin on June 3, 2013 at 11:51 am, and is filed under Pyramid Possibilities. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|
Modern computers and spell check were invented for a reason!
Working in staffing really opens your eyes to the do’s and don’t’s of job applications. Aside from grammatical errors that make my skin crawl, careless mistakes are also really sad. It’s tough out there. Don’t make it harder by sending in a sloppy cover letter.
While your resume should speak for itself, the cover letter is a great place for you to fill in the blanks and highlight important accomplishments. You can use a cover letter to show specific interest in the company, to talk about gaps in your resume, and most importantly, to explain why you, specifically, are perfect for the role.
A nice resume does not always tell a hiring manager that you’re awesome. Make your cover letter shine.
Spend the most time on your opener
This goes for almost anything you will ever write. The first sentence sets the tone, and will make or break your cover letter. Think about this in relation to your own reading practices. If the opening sentences of an article make you fall asleep, there are a million other things on the internet for you to read. Recruiters think the same way about cover letters.
Another good way to stand out is to find someone to address the letter to. With an extra 5-10 minutes of research, you will generally find the name of your potential manager or the hiring manager.
Keep it brief
Unless you enjoy 19th-century Russian literature, long, rambling blocks of text are not fun to read. Attention spans are short, and cover letters are plentiful; take out everything that is repeated or even slightly unnecessary. Your cover letter should be three quick paragraphs at the most. You don’t need to write a lot to sound smart – keeping things brief is actually harder to do than rambling on unedited.
Don’t rehash what’s in your resume
That’s what your resume is for. The purpose of a cover letter is to say something about yourself that recruiters wouldn’t learn otherwise.
It’s OK to sound conversational
While you want to write a cover letter that makes you sounds like a professional, competent individual, you also want to write one that allows your personality to come through. Cover letters that sound manufactured or forced are a turn-off. If you don’t use obscure vocabulary words in real life, or you can’t use them well, don’t use them in your cover letter.
Typos will throw you in the slush pile. So will letters addressed to the wrong person, the wrong company or about the wrong position (it happens all the time). Professional writers don’t usually write in one swoop. They print out their work, read it aloud and write many, many drafts. Your cover letter should also be carefully crafted before you send it in. If you’re re-purposing cover letters for every position you apply to, make sure you do it properly. A cover letter full of grammatical errors will not get you an interview.
Writing is hard work. If you find yourself taking a lot of time to write your cover letter, you’re probably on the right track.
|Print article||This entry was posted by pyramid-admin on May 21, 2013 at 4:53 pm, and is filed under Job Search. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|
Going to an interview does not have to be the most stressful part of the job-hunting process! Because up to 93% of communication is non-verbal, it’s important to go into an interview with confidence and a great attitude. Any fear, anger or confusion you have about the interview or the job itself is going to show. Be prepared, and reduce your stress.
Choose a time that works for you
Don’t agree to an 8 a.m. interview if you’re not a morning person. The time an interviewer suggests isn’t the only time they can interview with you. If you like to have some time to unwind in the morning, set up an interview for a little later in the day. If you are a morning person, by all means, suggest a meeting early in the day.
Leave plenty of time to get ready
Make sure you set multiple alarms set so you don’t oversleep, and take some time to unwind and wake up before your appointment. You should arrive about 5 to 10 minutes early. You don’t want to be more than 10- 15 minutes early, or even more than one minute late.
It’s a good idea to set up everything you need the night before. Plan your outfit, iron your shirt, shine your shoes, do whatever you need to do to eliminate tasks from your list. You don’t want to waste a bunch of time in the morning updating your portfolio or looking for your keys – this will only add to your stress.
Be (over) prepared
Check out our recent article on how to be prepared for an interview, one of the best ways to relieve stress.
Do your research on the company, and be ready to ask and answer questions. Failing to do so will be apparent to your interviewer.
Remember: You are interviewing the company, too
Look at the interview as conversation. While it’s true that the employer brought you in to learn more about your background, this is also a chance for you to see if the company is a good fit. A job description can look great on paper, but if you go in to the interview and everyone you interact with is a jerk, it’s probably not somewhere you want to spend your time. Looking at an interview as a conversation can make you feel a little more powerful – the fate of your career is not solely in the interviewer’s hands.
Stick to just one cup of coffee or tea before you go in – any more can exacerbate stress levels. While you may not notice it on a regular day, in a stressful situation, anything you do to raise your heartbeat can have a negative effect. You don’t want to fall asleep, you just want to be relaxed and lucid.
Have something fun to look forward to
Having something fun planned when your interview is over can be a great way to relieve some stress, and even give you a better attitude about going in to the appointment. It’s hard work getting an interview, so reward yourself with something nice. If your interview ends up being a success, you’ll be able to go out for drinks with friends and brag about it. And if the interview is a dud, you’ll have something lined up to make you feel better.
|Print article||This entry was posted by pyramid-admin on May 20, 2013 at 11:33 am, and is filed under Interview, To Do Before You Interview. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|
Sending out resumes, but not seeing the response you want? Whether you’ve been recently laid off or are looking for a change, there are a few things you can do to make your job search more effective.
Make a Website
If you don’t already have one, make a website. Nowadays, it’s cheap and easy. You can register with WordPress for free, or buy a domain with some version of your name for around $14/year. Sites like WordPress and Tumblr are great because they come with templates that make it easy to build a basic site. Start a blog that promotes anything and everything you’re proud of – a design, an article, a conference you helped set up, anything that shows potential employers what you’re capable of. Add your website to your signature, promote it on Facebook and LinkedIn, and list it on your resume.
Find recruiters in your area who specialize in your field. Provide them with a copy of your resume, and find out if they have any current openings. Opening your search up to recruiting firms (good ones) can be a powerful tool. Recruiters often have jobs that are unlisted or confidential, which you won’t have access to unless the company has your resume and has met with you to talk about your search.
Be selective with which recruiting firms you work with. Do your research and only spend time contacting the people who work in your industry. Don’t go to a fashion recruiting firm looking for an IT position. (Click here to learn more about working with us!)
Is there a specific industry or location you’re interested in? Do some research and compile a list of companies that you’d like to work for. What are their needs, who are the hiring managers? Check to see if there are any openings on the company website. (In order to keep the number of applications down, companies don’t always post open position on major job boards). If you don’t see any available positions on they company’s site, mail or email your resume and a tailored cover letter to someone high up the food chain.
While it might seem like extra work at first, keeping a spreadsheet of all the companies you’ve applied to and people you’ve contacted will make it easier to see the progress you’ve made. This is especially helpful if you’re targeting multiple employers. JibberJobber.com is one resource that compiles all the positions you’ve applied to, but you can also just keep a basic spreadsheet.
Apply to Jobs You’re Qualified For
This might seem obvious, but applying only to jobs you’re qualified for will greatly increase your chances of being contacted. Hiring managers are overwhelmed because people apply to every position they’re even remotely qualified for, so their inboxes are flooded with people they’ll never call. Make yourself the person whose resume gets a second look because the job is actually a good match for you. Take some time and tailor your resume to the position you’re interested in. Read our resume tips here.
Looking for a job isn’t just about responding to ads- expand your search and improve your chances of finding a great position!
|Print article||This entry was posted by pyramid-admin on May 13, 2013 at 12:29 pm, and is filed under Chronicles For Candidates, Job Search. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|
Salt, lime, branding
One of the best aspects of my job is that I get to gallivant across the web in search of articles and commentary on successful career searches and job hunting. More often than not, I find myself struggling to become enthralled with the commentary across the myriad of sites and blogs that I frequent. The insights just seem to repeat themselves. Seriously though, how many lists of the “toughest interview questions” are there?
Every so often I get lucky. Buried within an insanity-inducing array of redundant career advice, I’ll stumble across one that grabs me: a rare gem, if you will. I’ll usually read through it a few times, email it to my boss with a subject line of “THIS IS AWESOME,” and promptly extract tweet-able insight from it. Last week, I found one of these gems, and 140 characters wouldn’t do it any justice.
First of all, if you don’t read Fast Company, you should. Their articles are always engaging and provide some thought-provoking insight on World Wide Web littered with Harlem Shake memes and the Grumpy Cat. **
In one of my content pursuing sessions (I like to call it that instead of web surfing because it sounds more professional), I was scrolling through Fast Company’s articles and came across this title: To Help Your Business Succeed, Find Your Guacamole.
Being a connoisseur of the non-sequitur, I immediately jumped at the presumptive lack of any clear connection between the business world and guacamole. As I read the article, the aforementioned correlation became increasingly clear to me. I was actually moved by this article; not in the way one is moved when they read an article about a small-town hero, but in the way that it’s so in line with my beliefs that it actually jerked me around. The article’s message is simple: having great guacamole is a huge competitive advantage for Mexican restaurants, so businesses and individuals alike should strive to find their best advantage over their competitors.
If I asked a friend who I know likes Mexican food to recommend a place to grab some good enchiladas in the city, they would tell me any number of places that are all largely the same. But, if I asked that same friend where I could get the best guacamole, they would likely jump out of their skin at the opportunity to tell me the exact location of the foremost green gold. As the article claims, this is because guacamole is a distinguishing factor for a Mexican restaurant; it’s what’s going to make you choose to go to Mercadito instead of Rosa Mexicano, even though the food tastes the same.
Now, take this principle of having a competitive advantage and apply it to your own life. If a restaurant perfects its guacamole to the point that the green stuff alone has the power to draw in customers, imagine what finding your competitive advantage can do for you. If you’re interviewing for a job, you had better be able to sell your distinguishing factor to the interviewer, otherwise the competition between you and those out for the same position can become a toss-up. By finding your guacamole, you can better position yourself as more desirable than your competitors. Distinction is key when placed among others who are equally as qualified as you.
The same precedent holds true for businesses in industries other than Mexican cuisine. If you’re selling a product that has an abundance of substitutes, you can’t simply market it as being the best. Every business thinks their product is the best; if they didn’t, they wouldn’t be selling it. Your unique selling proposition should be what your product has that your competitor’s product does not. For example, when Fred Smith started FedEx he knew that he couldn’t compete with the U.S. Postal Service with service alone. What he did was completely reinvigorate the hub-and-spoke distribution model that allowed the company to deliver packages overnight, something that was heretofore unheard of. By creating a genuine improvement over their competitors, FedEx found its guacamole and launched itself into the Fortune 500.
You owe it to yourself to read Fact Company’s article on why finding your guacamole is the most essential element to strengthening your personal brand. Digest its message and go in search of your guacamole. Remember that you are your own brand, and you should build it around your strengths and what distinguishes you from others. Whether you’re in the job market or trying to sell a product, it’s not enough to tell a potential employer or consumer that you have the necessary experience for the position or the best pest product around. You have to give them a taste of your guacamole so that they will remember you and want to come back for more.
–David Schwartz, Marketing Intern
**Disclaimer- I love grumpy cat, he reminds me of my best friend.
|Print article||This entry was posted by pyramid-admin on May 6, 2013 at 10:35 am, and is filed under Out and About. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|
This will not get you a promotion
There are two types of people in the world: those that wish, and those that do.
It’s perfectly fine to wish when you’re blowing out birthday candles or throwing a coin in the Trevi Fountain. In fact, just for fun, here’s a list of all sorts of occurrences where it’s appropriate to wish. They’re all well and good, but for the love of all things good, don’t be a wisher in the business world!
Unless you truly are at the apex of your field, there’s a pretty good chance that you want to keep climbing the ladder. If you look at the ladder and think about how great it would be to be at the top of it, you’ll never get your feet off the ground. Take the first step, and be a doer.
People who spend their careers wishing for a promotion or a raise rarely get it. Wishers are the people in the office who are clocking out at exactly 5:00 pm every day. They have their sights set on something that benefits them but don’t want to saddle up, take the bull by the horns, and do what has to be done to get it.
Doers, on the other hand, are the ones that don’t just get the job done, but get it done well. They’re the workers who have the same sights as the wishers but forge a strong path to the goals. Doers go above and beyond, and are the first ones to ask if you need help.
Doers keep a candy bowl on their desks. And do you know why? A study several years back suggested that 90% of people who keep a candy bowl on their desk get promoted. That’s right, 90%. And who would have thought? DOERS! THAT’S WHO!
If you want to climb the ladder of success you have to be a doer. You have to be the one who gets noticed, not the one who wants to be noticed. Be diligent. Be intentional. And know that getting that promotion or raise is a two-way street.
Remember this cardinal rule: do and thou shalt receive.
|Print article||This entry was posted by pyramid-admin on April 29, 2013 at 9:40 am, and is filed under Chronicles For Candidates, Inspiration. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|
When I was 8, I raised my hand in class. While waiting to be called upon, I thought about how silly the question was and put my hand down. Apparently I did this abruptly enough that my teacher noticed.
“Don’t you have a question?”
“I did, but it’s a stupid question.”
“The only stupid question is one that goes unasked,” she said.
I then proceeded to ask the stupidest question I have ever asked in my life.
At the risk of having to re-live the embarrassment I felt when that cruel group of prepubescent demons gawked at me, I’m going to offer a counterclaim to my third grade teacher: there are such things as stupid questions.
In most cases you can determine whether or not your question is a good one. Since experience breeds knowledge, you can more than likely deduce what kind of response you’re going to get for some questions even before you ask them. But what about those situations that you’re less familiar with? What about, say, a job interview? I’ve already given some insight into questions you should be asking during an interview, so now it’s time to consider those that you should avoid when in front of the desk.
“What exactly does your company do?”
The logical next step after asking this question is to politely get up from your seat, thank your interviewer for their time, and get out. I shouldn’t have to explain why you should never ask this question, but I’m going to for good measure. How you managed to lock down an interview without a strong knowledge of what the company does is beyond me. Any question that could be answered easily by visiting a company website tells an employer two things: 1. You did not prepare well for your interview and 2. You think you’re qualified for a job that you know very little about. In the event that you were so brash as to take an interview with a firm that you are so unfamiliar with, there are much more subtle ways to go about finding out what the firm does. Ask your interviewer what a typical day would be like. Don’t ask them what the firm does. It’s a stupid question.
“Are you going to check my Facebook?”
If you ask this question, here’s my question for you: are you an idiot? First of all, if you’re looking to be a professional it’s time to take down those pictures of you doing a keg-stand or drinking Natty Light – effectively, anything that you wouldn’t want a less-than-hip family member to see. If it doesn’t happen before your interview, this is guaranteed to happen after it. Secondly, by asking a potential employer if they’re going to check your Facebook, the implication is that perhaps they should. Even if you don’t have anything to hide and are just curious, there’s no need to ask. That’s a stupid question, too.
“What are the company perks?”
In the event that a company has some desirable perks your interviewer will more than likely bring them up as a means of impressing you. Everyone wants a company phone and a company car, but don’t inquire about it. You will come across as being focused on the wrong things, and will make it seem as though you should be rewarded for accepting a position. If you’re interviewing for a job, you likely need the job more than the job needs you. If you absolutely must know about any company perks, ask your interviewer what makes them love working for the company. But don’t ask them if you get a goodie-bag when you take the job.
“Will I have to work evenings or weekends?”
If you want to make your own hours, start a baking business out of your house or start a website and rip off your friends. Seriously cupcakes and websites can be pretty lucrative. Don’t come across as wanting to do just what’s expected of you. If you have to work late, work late. If you have to work weekends, work weekends. If you want to climb the ladder you have to be willing to put your time in. You shouldn’t be asking if you can come in later so you don’t have to deal with traffic, and don’t ask if you can leave earlier so you can make Happy Hour at the bar. You’re interviewing to increase the performance of the company, not your personal life. Don’t ask about when you have to work.
When you’re in an interview you never want to do or say anything that will jeopardize your chances of being hired. You wouldn’t answer a text message in the middle of a discussion with a potential employer, and in the same vein, you wouldn’t want to ask a question that makes you look foolish. Questions you ask an interviewer weigh as heavily as how firmly you shake their hand and how well your shoes are shined. Think before you ask.
–David Schwartz, Marketing Intern
|Print article||This entry was posted by pyramid-admin on April 19, 2013 at 11:09 am, and is filed under Uncategorized. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|
Going back to graduate school isn’t a decision that should be taken lightly. Graduate school is a long, grueling, expensive process that, when attempted without a solid plan, can leave you with a string of problems. In some fields such as law or medicine, graduate school is required, but in other fields you have a decision to make.
Do not pursue a graduate degree without doing your research. Graduate school is NOT for everyone, and it’s completely different from your carefree undergraduate years. Here are a few things to consider before you start the application process.
Am I going for the right reasons?
Why do you want a graduate degree? Intellectual curiosity? To advance your career? To start a new career? Going back to graduate school because you don’t know what else to do, is not a good reason to go.
It’s tempting to go after degrees that current research says employers want, but that may change. You should be going to graduate school despite what other people say, because if you are in graduate school, you should be studying something that you love. If you want to get an MBA just because you think it will make you more money, but not because you’re excited about the field, not only will you be unhappy, potential employers will notice. People who love what they do and are good at it, with or without advanced degrees, find the best jobs.
Are you fine right now, without this degree?
Do I need a graduate degree?
If you have a specific career goal that you know requires a higher degree, then clearly graduate school is something you will have to complete in your lifetime. But many of us do not have our entire career paths planned. Sometimes we think that a graduate degree may help us move up the corporate ladder. This could be true, but you should probably wait until you have a goal in mind so that you can find a program geared specifically towards training you in those skills. There are also certificate programs that are not as consuming in terms of time or finances, and you may find that this is all you need to move another step up the ladder.
How will I pay for it?
Thoroughly research tuition costs for every school you apply to. You will also need to factor in additional fees not quoted in a school’s base tuition.
Will you be able to work while attending graduate school? Certain schools and programs are friendlier to working students than others. Similarly, some degrees are better equipped to guarantee a job or a salary increase upon graduation. While nothing is certain, be careful about incurring a lot of debt without the promise of steady income upon graduation.
Some companies will help foot the bill for their employees to go to college, if they see it as an investment. If you work in marketing for example, going back to business school can be sold to your employer as an investment opportunity- you will learn more about the profession, and help make them more money in return. Lots of companies will also pay in part or in full for professional certificate programs, which can be a good alternative to an MBA.
Am I ready for a lifestyle change?
Going back to graduate school, especially after you’ve been in the workforce for a while, will put you behind your peers. For a while, you won’t be able to afford the same things your friends can, and you’ll be stuck in the library on the weekends, especially if you need to hold a full-time job at the same time. This can be jarring if you’ve been used to corporate life, and it’s something you should consider.
Also, while your significant other should be a source of support, relationships can also suffer from extra stress and lots of time apart.
Weigh your decision carefully. You can always change your mind after you apply to schools. The amount of money you’ll rack up in application fees is much less of a burden than the amount of debt you’ll accrue for a program you weren’t really sure about in the first place.
Everything has its downsides, but there are definitely a lot of good things about pursuing a graduate degree. Having a graduate degree will show employers that you’re serious about your field, and it will increase your knowledge and skills. Additionally, a bachelor’s degree is becoming the new high school diploma, so you may find more and more that a second degree is helpful for career advancement.
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