How to present “MBA-equivalent training and experience” on a CV/Resume?

Monday, October 27th, 2008 - career coaching, career management, CV Help, CV Writing, Degree, Education, Qualifications


MBA equivalent

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strong>Russell asks: How do you present “MBA-equivalent training and experience” on a resume? I don’t have an MBA or graduate degree, but I do have formal and informal education plus work experience that compares very favorably to MBAs from top schools and even PhD (so I have been told by past managers, performance reviews, and academic conference reviewers). What is the best way to present this on a resume? Challenge: It appears that automated and/or outsourced hiring processes screen for key words and simply matching algorithms for work history and training. Thus, people who do not “fit the mold” never get considered by the hiring manager, or even get on the short list for phone interviews or first-stage interviews. Possible Solutions:

1) Just the Facts — just list work experience, education, skills, and accomplishments on the resume as though a knowledgeable human were reading it top to bottom. This assumes that the resume reader will be using “imaginative understanding” rather than simplistic screening based on criteria.

2) Add an entry under “Education” for “MBA (equivalent)” — with “institution” listed as “Various” or naming one or more companies where the training and experience were gained. If space is available, add the specific skills and subjects mastered. This assumes that the resume reader won’t barf over this non-traditional entry.

3) Fake It — List an MBA degree. (You’d have to put a gun to my head for me to do this, some famous people have done it. Is this ever justified?)

I have only tried Solution 1), which works fine for consulting team selection. I have had no luck with this solution in the regular employment recruiting process. To be clear, I am not talking about ordinary management or consulting experience as being equivalent to an MBA. That general experience is very valuable but not the same. If you are curious, you can look at my profile where I have listed some of the subject areas where I have developed by theoretical and practical expertise.

In answer:
I think Russell, the problem is solved through focusing on your delivery results, and not through qualifications. Unfortunately, you choose to work in an industry where in the last ten years the number of degrees and Phd’s people have is seen as the basic floor of entry/operations, and any delivery is resultantly not devalued but only assessed after you have the right number/type of degrees/Phd’s.

So, let’s take the obvious first – option (3) is out: never ever lie on a CV/Resume, period. I think your learning point out of the exercise should be to formalize all that experience and delivery in some form of recognized qualification. If you walked into most colleges with the amount of claimed delivery and published work on your profile, then I can’t imagine you would need too many more credits for an MBA.

I would hence write your CV/Resume up personally as I wrote one up in similar circumstances a month ago, focusing each part on: situation, customer requirement, approach, result, follow-up. Simply this shows a potential employer about which situations you have addressed, how you went about tackling them, and the result – each with an extended re-engagement because of the superb result. The client candidate and I produced a two part CV/Resume, with an extended executive portfolio of such works each with individual customer recommendations, and then a focused CV/Resume for each job application – and the answer is that using this formula, he is now employed.

If you follow though on the formula to your online presence, you will see that your existing LinkedIn profile is potentially over written. Your opening paragraph sounds more “functional element” written and less “evidence of delivery” orientated, which is where you have to focus any application. For instance, what is a “skilled public speaker” – do you have a simultaneous fire eating act? A better way would be to say “Have presented at numerous national conferences and as guest speaker at (insert up to three well known organisations), on subjects including strategy and IT risk modelling.” On the same level, just lose the Microsoft office – be clear on communicating to the reader you are an executive strategist, not a PC jockey.

In your application process, pick out up to ten organisations you would like to work for, and write a direct letter to the President, CEO or COO. Explain why you have written , and an evidenced mini-scenario of what you could do for them. I doubt there are more than 50 recruiters in the world who would understand your niche, or who would understand who wants that skill set you possess. You know that niche far better than they do, and well enough to know who the players are. Even if those employers use external recruiters they will know of you – so just write to them directly, and effectively ask for a job.

I see this scenario regularly in people who have had highly successful careers, and suddenly for one reason or another find it difficult when seeking employment to adapt to the changed world around them, which needs certificates/degrees on which to jump the initial interview barrier. Don’t worry – just don’t lie, and focus on evidenced delivery for the new position you are aiming for. And take the hint and formalize those extensive experiences into a certificate – you are never too old to learn!

Good Luck, and if we can help you further, please – just ask!

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