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How to Market Your Online Degree to Employers

Nathan Wilgeroth / Abound: Finish College »

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, 98% of universities have transitioned to or otherwise utilized online classes. While virtual learning has become essential, many students worry about whether potential employers will disapprove of an online degree.

Sure, some don’t understand the hard work a non-traditional student puts in to finish their degree, but employers by and large will recognize that an accredited online degree is equivalent to any traditional degree one can earn.

If you know how to market yourself and your college experience, you can easily show an employer your value. Continue reading to learn how to prepare your applications to impress employers and land your dream job.

Using the Term “Online” Strategically

When you finish college with an online degree, you’ll need to develop a strategy for how to present yourself on applications and in interviews with potential employers. This includes how you want to approach the subject of online adult learning.

You have two options when it comes to discussing the type of degree you earned: be direct, or be discreet. The right approach depends on your personal preferences and, well, discretion.

  • Be Direct

If omitting the ‘online’ part of an online degree is against your judgment, you can choose to be direct with your potential employer. This gives you a chance to alleviate any potential concerns in your cover letter.

One of the biggest disadvantages of taking a direct approach is that some employers are still uneducated about online education and may not take your education seriously. While many employers are embracing online degrees as legitimate and valuable, it’s a harsh fact that there are nevertheless plenty of skeptics.

  • Be Discreet

A non-traditional student may choose to avoid using the word ‘online’ when referring to their college education. Without that explicit signifier on your résumé, the subject may never even come up during the application and interview process. Some employers may only want to verify that you have a degree at all without looking to see the format in which you earned it.

Skirting around the topic might save you from getting rejected outright or going through the pain of educating your potential employer about the merits of an online education. Know, however, that you should never lie during this process. If you cannot avoid the subject without bending the truth, then you must be honest.

Strategize for Your Interview

Getting an interview is a great sign and means that an employer is either interested in you and curious to learn more about whether you’ll fit in at their company. 

This is your chance to make a good impression as well as the perfect opportunity to show how great of a candidate someone with an online degree can be. Plan to to highlight the benefits of your virtual education during your interview.

You know and we know that an online degree is just as valuable as a traditional degree from a brick-and-mortar college; both methods of education offer the same degree. That said, you may need to help your potential employer unlearn some of the misinformation they have gotten about virtual degrees. 

Here are a few ways you can present the unique skills you garnered while taking online courses:

  • Responsible for Your Learning

One of the reasons many people enroll in an online adult learning program is for the flexibility it offers those with busy schedules. While you have more flexibility with scheduling, that doesn’t mean you’re not working hard—you even might have been working harder than the typical college student, learning to balance work and school all on your own.

In an online program, you have been responsible for your learning. These types of programs demand you to be a motivated self-starter, which is exactly what most employers are looking for in a candidate.

  • Prepared for a Digital Workspace

COVID-19 forced many companies to adapt to digital and remote work. From Zoom calls to new software, businesses have asked employees to stay on their toes and adjust to a new style of work.

Hey, look at you: getting your degree online already trained you to be proficient in technology and remote work formats. Online education requires students to be comfortable navigating different programs and forms of communication, so you have a distinct advantage over other applicants.

  • Improved Multitasking Skills

It’s common for a non-traditional student to have other responsibilities beyond classes and studying. Balancing adult learning online and the rest of your life is something only the best multitaskers can achieve. 

Being able to finish college online demonstrates your ability to multitask in high-stress environments. And since only 2.5% of people can truly multitask effectively, this is sure to make you stand out. 

Dispel Common Misconceptions

Whether you choose the direct or discreet route for discussing your online degree, you should try your best to dispel any potential misconceptions before they affect your chances of making a good impression.

Your mythbusting can be woven all throughout the process from the résumé all the way through the end of the interview. Try to consider the reservations an employer might have about your degree and and how you can address them head-on:

  • Concerns About Quality

One of the reasons an employer might hesitate to hire you because of your online degree is because they don’t think online education is high-quality. That’s fair; a lot of scams take advantage of people online, disguising themselves as reputable colleges only to dupe them out of thousands of dollars. 

These programs give online degrees a bad name. It’s important to make your employer understand that the college you attended was properly accredited.

At Abound, we only work with colleges approved by accreditors authorized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. This can help reassure employers about your education.

  • Limited Social Interaction

Certain career paths require excellent soft skills. When an employer hears that you’re a non-traditional student with an online degree, they might worry whether you have developed the ability to work in teams and build rapport with the rest of their company.

Of course, you know that taking online courses doesn’t make you a total hermit. In fact, you’ll still have developed the same socialization skills as you would have at a brick-and-mortar school. Online education includes plenty of communication with professors and other students via chat, email, video, and more.

Be Confident!

Your education isn’t all a company is interested in. While it may be an essential part of your application, your future employer wants, first and foremost, a well-rounded individual.

Be sure to highlight every reason that makes you an excellent candidate, including your previous work experience, volunteer work, and other accomplishments you’ve had. Talk about the skills you possess and continue to grow. Explain how your past experiences have only been elevated, not diminished, with your education. 

Completing your degree online is hard work and a huge accomplishment. While it’s possible that you might run into some naysayers that don’t understand how valuable an online education can be, you are nevertheless a strong candidate with valuable skills. Stay confident, and be prepared to make the case for why you deserve the job.

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