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How to sell your online MBA degree to future employers?


OnlineMBAHave you finished your MBA through an online program? Are you unable to experience any benefits from your degree? Well…..you are not alone. More than 50% of the employers still prefer an MBA candidate with the traditional classroom experience as compared to an online MBA student. Despite of this stereo types of an online MBA candidate, you can still succeed with your degree. You just need to know, how to sell it. With this blog, I am going to provide you with some pointers through which you can get the same benefit out of your online MBA program as compared to any other in-class MBA program.

Capitalize on cultural awareness:

If you are doing an online MBA from a Tier 1 or Tier 2 level school, then chances are…….you must be working in a diverse team with people from different countries. You should use this experience as your strength during your job search. Mention those specific projects on your resume to portray your knowledge of cross cultural understanding. With most of the major companies going global, this experience will definitely work in your advantage, if presented correctly.

I would also recommend you to provide some specific examples on your resume on how you had solved some of the cross cultural conflicts. These kinds of smaller examples can help you bring up this topic during your in-person interviews. And you can then elaborate on that in further details. It goes without saying…..try to connect your experience with the company’s current needs of working with cross cultural teams.

Be the leader of your virtual teams:

If you think of it, all the project teams in an online MBA program are nothing but a virtual team. In your program, you must have worked with different people from different time zones to finish certain projects. And hence, you should also capitalize on your experience in working with remote/virtual teams. Don’t just say…..”I have worked in a virtual team”. Try to be more specific on your resume. Provide examples on how you resolved issues due to time and language barriers during your project. It wouldn’t hurt, if you can talk about those experiences in your in-person interviews, and maybe summarize with lessons learned during your experience.

In today’s world, lot of companies operate in different locations. Thus, most of their meetings, projects and day-to-day activities are virtual. Thus, if you can prove that you have not only worked in that environment, but you have also learned how to improve those communications in that environment; then you would definitely standout from the crowd.

I hope these tips will help to sell your online MBA degree to your future employer. Do you have any other ideas through which you can show the importance of your online MBA degree to your future employer?

Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi.

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Reduce your employee turnover rate by hiring fresh graduates


In my last blog, I have discussed about how you can save some money and re-training costs by hiring a fresh graduate instead of an experienced professional. In this blog, I will provide you with few other reasons why you should prefer fresh graduates over an experienced person.

Flexibility: In my experience, I have found less experienced people more flexible as compared to very experienced professional. For example: I had this one intern, let’s call him Mr. X, who was very self-motivated to learn. Thus, Mr. X will come early every morning, and read all the required process documents and training documents before he started his work. He would still work his core hours with some of my other experienced team members, but he was always willing to put in some extra time to learn new things. His hunger for learning new things helped me a lot, as he would come on weekends sometime and finish some of the important tasks of my projects.

Happier workforce: I am not saying that fresh graduates are always happier at work. I am saying that……….. Since they don’t have any past experience to compare their existing job with, they wouldn’t complain as much as few experienced professionals would, who might have worked in different companies and have seen different company cultures and practices. For a fresh graduate, your culture and practices will become his primary bench mark, since he will grow with your company, and learn all the practices and procedures established by your company. Also, smaller incentives like free bagels, donuts or lunch will go a long way for him as compared to other people, who might have seen different (better) days.

More growth opportunities: Obviously, you can have various growth opportunities for your experienced professionals depending on your company’s policies. But trust me, you will have way more opportunities for your employee’s growth, if you hire a fresh graduate. For example: I work in a Software Industry. In my company, we have various job ranks for our engineers. Ranks go from 1 to 6 depending on their experience and capability. Let’s say, if I hire an experienced professional on “Engineer Level 5”. Unfortunately, after his promotion to the next level, “Engineer Level 6”, I might not have clear defined path for his growth. And that employee will feel stagnant in my company, and might try to leave for another job. Imagine, if I hire an “Engineer Level 1”, a fresh graduate, for the same position . I will have more opportunity to grow him within the company in a given hierarchical structure of the company. Thus, I would recommend you to hire a fresh graduate, if you already have few experienced people in your team to provide a direction.

I hope these tips will help understand the importance of hiring a fresh graduate in comparison of an experienced professional. Let me know, if you have any other reasons why you would prefer hiring a fresh graduate instead of an experienced professional. Please feel free to share your opinion here. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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Why should you hire fresh graduates instead of experienced professionals? (Part 1)


I have seen many companies investing their millions of dollars in hiring experienced professionals for their company. Though I understand the need for hiring experienced professionals, I think that companies should invest more dollars in hiring fresh graduates. For example: if you already have few senior engineers in your team, you should not look for more senior engineers. You should instead think of hiring fresh talents. Following are few reasons, why I would hire fresh graduates over experienced professionals.

Lowering costs: This is one of the primary reasons why most of the companies hire fresh graduates. On an average, fresh graduates cost 20-40% less than an experienced individual. I am not saying to hire them just because they are cheap, there are various other cost benefits for hiring graduates. For example: You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars in the talent search program. You can partner with some of the local universities in your areas, and take benefit of their career center, which will be more than happy to find out a talent match for you. Or you can participate in Career Fairs of few schools and interview people right there and then. This will also reduce all the traveling and lodging costs, which you might end up paying for inviting an experienced person for an interview.

Easy to train: Imagine, if you hire an experienced professional, who seems to provide you all the answers that you require. But have you ever considered the cost of re-teaching him your culture? Since the person is experienced, he would be familiar with the culture of the last company that he worked for. So, before even teaching him your culture, you need to make sure that he forgets some of the aspects of his old culture, and dwells in with your existing culture. On the other hand, if you hire a fresh graduate then you don’t have to reteach him anything. He will basically learn everything from the beginning, and grow with your company. It’s like writing something on an empty white board, you can write anything without rubbing off any previous prints. Thus, unless you are looking for someone from a different culture/company to come and change your existing team dynamics and your existing work practices, I would recommend you to hire someone fresh and new.

I hope these tips will help understand the importance of hiring a fresh graduate in comparison of an experienced professional. Let me know, if you have any other reasons why you would prefer hiring a fresh graduate instead of an experienced professional. Please feel free to share your opinion here. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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How to design an internship program that works for you and not for the intern?


InternshipHave you ever been in a situation, where you have invested so much time and money in hiring the cream interns, but they never chose to work for you after graduation? This is not true in today’s economy, where students are thankful to have any job. But still……..I am sure, most of you must have seen a situation where your intern accepted a job offer somewhere else, and your time invested in him/her didn’t pay off for you. Through this blog post, I will provide you some high level ideas through which you can design your internship program to help YOU.

Summer Interns: Don’t get me wrong, but I am a huge fan of pay offs when it comes to business. I understand that you want to help your interns to grow his skillsets. But at the end of the day, you should also be benefited from this relationship. After all, you are investing your time and money to train this intern. Thus, to take the best work out of a summer intern, I would advise you to provide him with few smaller standalone projects. For example: projects related to testing, nice to have projects, bug fixes, etc. This practice will ensure that your work gets done, while giving you an idea of work ethics, self-sustainability, and leadership skills of your intern. I would also go further by saying…..you should hire only those students, who have only one semester to go. This will give you an opportunity to hire that candidate without disrupting your work flow too much.

Full time Interns: Most of the companies don’t offer this program. But I would highly recommend to include this program in your internship. This kind of internship means…..hiring someone part-time, probably 20 hours a week, while he goes to school. I would prefer to hire a local candidates over out-of-state candidates for this kind of internship. This will not only improve your relationships with local Universities and help you to get better full time candidates in the future, but this will also give you an opportunity to get out of paying unnecessary relocation costs. For this kind of internship, I would hire anyone from senior to about to graduate. Since, their working hours need to flexible due to their school schedule, I would assign them projects which require minimal supervision and are of lower priority.

CO-Ops: This kind of program is neither famous nor talked about. But this is my favorite internship program. CO-OP, formally known as cooperative education program, gives an opportunity to the employee to hire someone for an entire year to work for full time. In short, this is like hiring an inexperienced contractor for an entire year. I would mostly hire this kind of interns for a specific projects, which requires medium supervision, and which can be done within a year, OR some manual effort like testing, data entry, etc. I would recommend you to target those schools, where they offer online classes. Thus, if you really like this person during his contract period, you can then keep him as your full time resource, while he simultaneously finishes his school. Try to hire a Master level candidate who is about to finish his school in the next semester. In this way, you will get a resource who is mature but flexible.

I hope these tips will help you in making your internship program work for you instead of working just for your interns. Let me know, if you have any other ideas through which you can improve your internship program, so that you have a reasonable pay-back on your investments. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 

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Few tips to keep your Resume current while working


I have seen many people in my career, who only updates their resume when they are in the process of finding a new job. I would definitely recommend against this practice. With the current market place, one should keep his/her resume updated at all times. If an unfortunate thing happen to you, then you will be ready with your latest resume in no time. In order to keep your resume up-to-date, following are few things that I would recommend you to do………

Keep your recommendations updated: Do not just wait for someone to write you a recommendation. If someone (for example a friend, colleague, professor, customer, or client) praises you for your recent work or assignment, you might ask this person: “Would you write me a short note restating that so I can include it in my resume or LinkedIn Profile?” The chances are….. they will be happy to do so and they might even like your initiative to keep your profile updated. If they reply that they’d like to write you a note but are very busy right now, you can offer to do a draft of the note, which they can edit, put on their stationery, and sign. In this way, you are not becoming a burden on them and still getting your things done.

Update your resume as you go: In addition to asking for recommendations, you can also add to the items in your Resume by creating them. Let’s say, you are in the same job from last 2-3 years, but your responsibilities keep on changing. In this case, you want to make sure that you keep a note of all of your job responsibilities somewhere. I would recommend you to keep your resume located somewhere on the cloud using something like ‘Windows Live’ or ‘Google Docs’. In this way, when your job responsibilities changes or you take on more tasks, you can go ahead and update your resume right away.

Create work artifacts as you go: I would recommend you to keep a personal folder in which you can keep all of your documents or artifacts. By artifacts, I mean…..something that you created during your coursework at school or during your employment at your current company. Few examples would be….. Scanned copy of your performance review, project plan that you might have created, any framework diagram, or any documented e-mail showing your accomplishments. These documents will prove very handy during your job interview. Imagine if you were interviewing a candidate for one open position in your team, and he comes to an interview well prepared with all of his achievements documented. I am sure, you are more likely to hire that person as compared to any other person without documented proof of success.

I hope these tips will help you to keep your portfolio up-to-date with the current artifacts. If you have any other ideas through which you can keep your portfolio current, then please feel free to share it on my blog through your comments. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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What should you not have in your online Resume?


ResumeIn my last blog post, I have provided you with some tips to create your online portfolio, but I forgot to discuss what you shouldn’t put in your online portfolio. While you want to maximize the reach of your online portfolio by putting as much information as you can to find new opportunities, there are few things that you should not put there. Following are my recommendations…….

Don’t include personal information: This goes without saying….. Never put your personal information on your website (or Blog). For example: Your age, birth date, etc. Actually, I would also recommend you to remove your birthdate from your social profile as well. There are various online data mining sites, which can collect your information from different public websites and gather all information at one place. Thus, putting key personal information out from your portfolio is a wise decision.

Don’t put private information: Let’s say, you have a PDF format of your performance reviews from your past employers, and you did a really good job there, and now you want to show that to the world. Please do yourself a favor, and DON’T DO THAT. Of course, you can carry your past performance reviews with you during your interview to strengthen your case, but it’s a really bad idea to put it for everyone to see. I would also not put any personal conversation that you had done with your Manager over the internet. Let’s say, you have many documented e-mails to prove that you did a really good job at your work, please keep a hard copy of those documents and show it during your personal interview, but don’t make it publically available.

Don’t put your company related work: Most of you must be working at some company, and most of your work must be related to the company that you worked for. You might want to include these artifacts in your online portfolio to strengthen your future employment chances, but please don’t do that right away. Please ask your employer/management, if it is ok to upload these documents online or not. Sometimes, you might be unknowingly violating any copyrights by making those documents public. So, make sure to ask your HR Department, before you make any document public. Let’s say, if all of your work is related to your company, and still you want to show that to the world, you can do that too. Edit that work, and make it as generalized as possible, and then run by HR to see if you can upload that to your website now. Once you get your employer’s approval, there is no harm in putting those artifacts on your portfolio.

Don’t put confusing documents: If you have any project documentation that you have worked on, and you want to include that in your online portfolio, then don’t do it right away. Any portfolio item that needs context and explanation to be understood is not likely to be a very powerful document in a Web-based portfolio. You can insert little text boxes that attempt to explain the relevance of the documents, and you can even try using voice-overs to explain how the documents demonstrate your important points, but it’s not the same as being there yourself and responding to questions that the viewer might have. Thus, leave out those specific documents that must be explained to communicate the message effectively.

I hope these tips will help you to create a better online presence for yourself, while controlling what goes online and what doesn’t. If you have any other ideas through which a person can control his/her online image, then please feel free to share it on my blog through your comments. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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What should you have in your online Resume?


ResumeThose days are gone when we used to pass our business cards to someone, and they would keep them in their contact list. In the world of Outlook and e-mails, it is required to have your online portfolio. Some people won’t feel comfortable putting themselves out in the public, but those people will be at a disadvantage in their job search due to the competition. Thus, I would recommend everyone to have their online portfolio. And following are few tips to create it…….

Use free services: When I recommended my friend to create his online portfolio, he told me that it’s a waste of money. Well…… You don’t have to spend any money on your online portfolio at all. You can use various free services like Windows Blog, Google Blogs, WordPress, etc. These free services will let you create your blog for no cost, and then you can add different pages to your blogs. For example: A page to demonstrate your work experience, a page to demonstrate your references, and a page to provide a way for other people to contact you.

Include your contact details: Most of the people will refrain of putting their personal information out on web, while other people don’t have any issues with that. If you are one of those people, who don’t feel comfortable sharing your personal information on your website (or blog), then you can create a form for someone to contact you or create an another e-mail account through free services of Gmail or Yahoo, and put that e-mail address as your contact information. In this way, your personal information won’t be compromised and your contacts have a way to reach you.

Include your work experience: If you are looking for a job, then this added page is a must in your portfolio. This page can basically act as your resume, which can be searched online. Make sure to be as detailed as possible. Unlike your resume, which should be of certain size, you can provide as much information as you want on this page. So, why not make the best use out of it? Let’s say that on an airplane or at a social function you happen to strike up a conversation with someone for whom you might like to work. To get this person more interested in you, rather than just give her a business card and probably never get a call, you could also give her a Web site address for your portfolio. And with this ‘work experience’ page on your website, they can get more information about your experience before talking to you the next time.

Include your references: Let’s say, you are a contractor/consultant then this page becomes very critical for your portfolio. Of course, you need to take permission from your references to put their name on your website as your reference, but it is worth it. Imagine, if you were called for an interview and the person interviewing you asks for your references. In that situation, you can just point him to your online portfolio and lead him to think that you are some kind of a genius who came well prepared. If you have already few recommendations on your LinkedIn then you can either copy paste those there or provide a link for people on your ‘reference’ page to go to your LinkedIn account.

I hope these tips will help you to create a better online presence for yourself, while protecting your privacy. If you have any other ideas through which a person can enhance his/her online image, then please feel free to share it on my blog through your comments. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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