Applying for Jobs with an Online Degree

When Anna completed her online degree in accounting, she was excited. After two years of managing her studies alongside a full-time job, she was now ready for bigger and better things. However, two months of dead ends and rejection from what had once seemed a promising job market opened her eyes to the stark truth-employers always managed to find someone 'better', someone with a traditional degree background.

In spite of the fact that she had worked as hard as or maybe even harder than most of her traditional classroom counterparts, employers somehow considered her degree to be of less value. She had graduated with great grades and had even been able to pick up extra skills in a much shorter time than traditional classroom candidates and yet it seemed that employers were only too willing to discount all her efforts simply because she did not attend a brick and mortar college.

Why do Employers Hesitate to Hire Online Graduates?
Anna is not alone. Hundreds of online program graduates struggle like her when it comes to applying for a job.

Vault.com's survey to gauge the popularity of online courses proved that while employers were becoming increasingly open to hiring candidates from an online program, there was still a lot of hesitation. Many HR professionals were willing to consider candidates from an online program provided they had graduated from an accredited institution.

And yet, given a choice between a traditional classroom candidate and an online degree candidate, employers continued to prefer the first.

Tell Your Employers Why You're Just as Good!
In such situations you have to prove that your degree is in no way inferior to a traditional degree. The way to do this is to ensure that you've signed up for a course from an accredited school. Numerous studies have proved that online programs are as effective as traditional ones. A study by John Losak from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale went so far as to prove that students of online programs actually performed better than their traditional classroom counterparts. Also available are job search engines as SimplyHired.com to assist any recent graduate or someone looking to make a career change.

As an online program graduate, you have a lot going for you, so here are some ways to make sure that employers know your worth when you apply for a job.

  • Tell them that you've graduated from a reputed institute that is accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency. Research shows that accredited institutions with online courses are generally more acceptable to employers than a completely virtual institution. If your course was not taken at an accredited college, make sure that you have on hand any newspaper clippings, links or trade publications that mention your college favorably.
  • Highlight your time management skills. If you opted for an online course, you've probably had to juggle jobs or family responsibilities alongside your studies. To have been able to complete a degree along with so many other responsibilities would call for smart scheduling and planning. Employers always value people who can multi-task and manage time wisely, so make sure you drive home the point - you're smarter than average!
  • Flaunt your strength in managing technology. By its very nature, an online program necessitates good computer skills. Most students of online programs are adept at dealing with technological quirks - definitely a valuable asset since most jobs would require you to work on computers.
  • Tell your employers how you're great at cross-cultural and virtual communication. This is a priceless skill to possess since so many teams in today's workplace are cross-cultural and a lot of interaction does tend to be virtual. Virtual communication relies almost entirely on words rather than tone and body language, so succeeding at it is definitely an art. The fact that you've just completed an online course, where your communication/interaction with instructors and peers was entirely via mail and other virtual mediums, should give potential employers a positive outlook about your communication skills.
  • Many employers struggle with the notion that online courses lead to poor participation and social skills. Explain to them how most courses require mandatory participation on discussion forums. In fact, on many courses students are graded for their participation. So, unlike a traditional course which gave you the freedom to remain silent in class, your online program has prepared you for active participation.
  • Above all, show them how you're a self starter. Online students are not monitored by professors and to succeed at an online program, you'd require lots of self-discipline, motivation and accountability. Responsible individuals who can work on their own, without being constantly monitored/supervised, are greatly valued by organizations.

You Don't have to be Ashamed!
Some career advisors may ask you to refrain from mentioning that your course was an online one. However, if a potential employer finds out later that you graduated from an online course, your silence could be interpreted as deceitful. It's far better to be upfront about it. Also visit Finding a Job After Earning an Online Degree to assist  a graduate from an online college in researching fields of interest and other related topics.

Remind yourself that you didn't opt for an online course because you weren't smart enough for a traditional one. Rather, the traditional course didn't seem a smart idea given your schedule. So, go ahead and allow employers to see you for the motivated and efficient person you are!

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