It is undeniable that earning an MBA is a great accomplishment, but the MBA by itself won’t guarantee career success.
In fact, when it comes to careers, the work has only just begun after getting an MBA. Graduates need to spend considerable time managing their careers to have long-term success.
Failing to set career goals properly is a trap that many MBA grads fall into and is likely a symptom of complacency. One of the best tools available for helping set goals is SWOT analysis.
Strenghts, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats
Identifying Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats helps job-seekers come up with specific, realistic career goals. It helps determine whether an objective is attainable or not, provides information to make adjustments to objectives. Strengths and weaknesses are internal characteristics while opportunities and threats are external.
If the only time you get feedback about your performance on the job is at the annual review, you may be setting yourself up for failure. Evaluating job performance is often subjective. What you perceive to be strengths may not be perceived the same way by superiors. Waiting a long time to find out where you stand with those in charge is not a proactive way to manage a career.
Fortunately, many corporations have developed more objective processes; they also use innovative work performance tools like 360 degree feedback to better evaluate employees. Although the evaluation process has improved over the years, employees should seek feedback on performance using these systems and others. It allows them to make adjustments sooner and avoid workplace misunderstandings.
Networking is something an MBA grad cannot do too much of. Two realities of hiring are that every opening attracts lots of candidates and people who hire are more comfortable with someone they know or who was referred to them. Connecting with alums and fellow students gives MBA grads an additional advantage over the stack of applicants.
Another benefit of networking is that it helps grads avoid jobs that they don’t want. Getting feedback about companies from those in your network will help you avoid having to leave a company with a less than desirable job experience.
Unrealistic salary expectations is another problem among MBA grads around the world and especially in the US. Candidates with an MBA from a top-tier program can expect higher salaries than those with MBAs from lower-ranked programs; but even after considering that factor, expectations are not realistic.
Data from a recent QS Quacquarelli Symonds survey showed that American MBA applicants expect a salary in the $140,000 range. Globally, salaries for top programs are in the $90,000-$115,000 range. The average salary of a graduate from Stanford was $129,650, about $10,000 less than what surveyed applicants expected.
Bloomberg Businessweek’s article, MBA Salary Expectations:Sober Reckoning or Wishful Thinking points out that some of the salary figures have more to do with economic conditions than the schools. The average salary of MBA graduates has not changed much the last five years. A weak U.S. dollar has also had an adverse effect on salaries for American MBA holders.
An MBA from a blue chip program is a worthwhile pursuit as long as graduates aren’t content with earning one and doing nothing else. Properly evaluating yourself, setting realistic goals, networking and managing expectations are also required to make a career rewarding.