How do I overcome, on a resume or in an interview, the fact that my MBA is from the University of Phoenix? I graduated in 2006. UoP has received so much bad press that I’m concerned my education will not be taken seriously, and that it might be a detriment to my career advancement. Thank you for your advice.
Nick’s Quick Advice
What’s happened with UoP is unfortunate, but don’t let it get in your way.
It seems that MBA degrees have the most impact on hiring decisions when they come from big-name schools. Otherwise, they don’t seem to mean a lot “out of the box.” (That is, on your resume.) Of course, if you learned something while getting the MBA (like finance) that’s necessary for a job you want, then it may make a difference. I’m not knocking MBA degrees.
Putting UoP’s reputation aside, I think what matters more than any kind of degree is personal referrals and recommendations. That’s what gets you in the door. There is nothing like a personal, professional endorsement. Employers consistently say that’s the biggest factor, aside from the applicant’s skills and experience.
Likewise, contrary to the marketing hype, your resume is not your “marketing piece,” nor will it get you in the door. Used by itself, all it does is force you into the Resume Grinder where an algorithm will sort you among millions of your competitors.
Personal referrals are a much more powerful alternative.
You can’t change the name of the school on your MBA. But you can do a lot to leverage good referrals. For advice on how to do that, see Please stop networking.
There’s lots more advice on this topic in Fearless Job Hunting, Book 3: Get in The Door (way ahead of your competition). See especially the sections titled:
- “It’s the people, Stupid” pp. 5-8 (No, you’re not stupid, but this article will show you how people act stupidly when they don’t focus on personal referrals.)
- “Drop the ads and pick up the phone” pp. 9-11
Most important, to learn how to turn references into referrals, see:
- “Don’t provide references — launch them” pp. 23-25
Don’t worry about your MBA. Just get to work on personal referrals. And be careful about where you buy your education!