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Weighing the Advantages of Business Education and Job Experience

With recent statistics emerging from the U.S. Department of Education indicating that adult students are the most rapidly increasing educational demographic, it is no wonder the topic of education verses job experience has become such a relevant point of discussion.  In fact, since 1998, the number of adult college attendees has soared by a noteworthy 41 percent.

experience-and-education-two-books_career-educationChances are, however, that most middle aged individuals considering a return to the classroom are willing to invest thousands of dollars on education to enhance career potential, and ultimately, their paycheck; which, in turn, raises the question of necessity.  Shouldn’t their work experience, acquired knowledge, and accomplishments through the years offer enough merit to warrant their advancement?

Nonetheless, there are several fields where an impressive degree will increase your worth in the job market.  An engineer or computer technician will command considerably more earning power with a high-level college degree, than without.  Yet, while teachers are required to have completed at least a master’s program to be qualified, certain business professionals can glide for decades on an associate degree by working their way up the ladder through experience alone.  However, this is not to say that by earning your bachelor’s, master’s, or beyond, you will not be increasing your professional value, even for those jobs that may not necessarily require advanced certifications.

Older workers who plan to remain within the same company, field, or industry may certainly be able to save their money and base their value as an employee simply upon cumulative experience, whereas individuals looking to break into a new line of work will fare much better with a solid education behind them.  Of course, most employers should notice the long-term employee who took the time and effort to enrich their professional knowledge and status within their field.  In many cases, it will be taken into serious consideration when raises and promotions are up for discussion; however, unless a return to college was specifically recommended by your employer, it is not always a certain guarantee toward a larger paycheck; or at least a paycheck large enough to render worthwhile the costs of earning a brand new degree.

However, whichever route you choose, it helps to be informed as to what type of degree is necessary, what it will offer you, and how it will ultimately affect your career potential.

Associate Degree (two years)

An associate degree eliminates the extra coursework requirements, and focuses on the classes that are specific to the student’s field of choice.  An associate degree in business management, for example, may require fewer history and psychology credits, but the undergrad will have the opportunity to focus on classes such as business law, accounting, and administration. While in past years, businesses looked less favorably upon a two-year degree, many are now appreciating the value of a concentrated degree program which allows individuals to train for a specific field.  It is recommended that most job candidates have completed a minimum of this degree when entering the workforce.

Bachelor’s Degree (four years)

While many have ascended the corporate ladder through experience alone or with only an associate’s degree under their belt, a four-year degree or Bachelor of Business Administration, for instance, is bound to get you there quicker.  Attaining executive-level status in the corporate world is much easier with a four-year degree, however if an employer has their choice narrowed down to two candidates with the same education level, chances are greater that the candidate with more work experience will get the job.

Master’s Degree (two years + bachelor’s)

A master’s degree, or in business, an MBA can direct you toward a higher level job opportunities, and also offers you the opportunity to choose a concentration in another area, which definitely expands your career choices.  Executives who earn MBAs with a focus in entrepreneurship, for example, often go on to start their own businesses, becoming their own bosses.  Generally, however, an MBA will provide you with basic business principals, such as finance, management, strategic planning, and marketing. To obtain a master’s degree of any kind, an individual must have already completed coursework for their bachelor’s degree. While, as mentioned, investing in a higher educational degree isn’t always a guarantee toward greater pay in every individual case, on average, those with MBAs often do command greater earning power.

PhD or DBA (four-to-five years + prerequisite degrees/coursework)

Earning either a PhD in Business Administration or a DBA (Doctor of Business Administration) allows students to prepare for academic careers in business, such as research or teaching.  These degrees tend to be interchangeable in most cases, so the selection is up to you.  These are highly specified degrees that are not frequently required in most business settings, even on the executive level, unless you are aiming for either an educational business career, or you are an executive who wishes to obtain advanced research skills, tools, and qualifications.

Reaching a Decisionexperience-and-education-woman-at-desk-with-books

No matter your stage in life, it’s important to remember that any advanced education you ultimately choose to complete – whether an associate or bachelor’s degree to refresh your career, or a master’s degree or higher to catapult your career into the executive realm – your resolution to return to school in any capacity is a personal choice, even beyond your employer’s partiality.  Famous entrepreneurs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg did not actually complete their college degrees, and are now among the most successful business people of recent times, demonstrating how success can be achieved in a variety of ways when the will, desire, and experience are there.

In essence, weighing the benefits of education vs. experience is subjective to a multiplicity of nuances in your life, including your line of work, employer leanings, financial standing, family life, and most of all, your personal career goals.

By Fred Coon, CEO


Take your job search and LinkedIn profile to new levels and achieve your career goals with Leveraging LinkedIn for Job Search Success 2015 will transform how you use LinkedIn on a daily basis and create a profile that will WOW recruiters and hiring managers.

How Employers Can Help Bridge the Skills Gap

When an employer is looking for certain skills which employees can’t deliver, this is referred to as a skills gap; and it is becoming an increasingly noticeable concern in today’s work climate.  However, there is also a certain amount of controversy surrounding the skills-gap-red-graph-animation-looking-beyondreason behind this apparent gap in skills and prospects. According to Adam Wiedmer, Sourcing Director at the professional services corporation, Seven Step RPO, there is a disparity between what is being expected of employees in the job market and what is actually being taught educationally in the U.S.   For example, among the fields of technology and engineering, which are currently in highest demand, just 5 percent of the top majors granted currently fall within these areas; as opposed to history, performing arts, and psychology which compose 22 percent of all U.S. degrees. Wiedmer points out that our nation is consequently searching internationally to supply companies with highly trained IT workers.

The issue may also exist within the educational curriculum itself.  Ellen Van Velsor, senior fellow in Research and Innovation at Center for Creative Leadership has stated that a similar disconnect exists within leadership competencies, where these techniques and other applicable soft skills are practically non-existent in many programs outside of MBA and business administrative agendas. An important factor within this soft skill set is communications. This is something companies should not be overlooking during the hiring process. Velso added that while many surveyed managers have been impressed with the technological savvy of the up-and-coming generation, most of these younger workers were viewed as too dependent on technical forms of communication, as well as being unwilling or too unskilled to engage in face-to-face communication.

Given the predicament, what can employers do to close the skills gap both internally and externally?

Invest in training

When employers invest enough resources into properly training their employees, they are not only helping to close the skills gap within their own company, but they are creating future candidates who may be of value to other employers down the road.  If all employers adopted this mindset, it could potentially affect the overall talent climate, expanding the pool of quality candidates across the board.

Seek likely candidates

Correctly matching skill sets to open positions is an important craft that employers must perfect.  While it’s tempting to focus on highly exclusive skills that are, in theory, more difficult to teach, concentrating on a very particular set of “micro skills” may cause employers to lose light of the larger picture, which is to recruit a candidate who is capable of performing the most prominent and important parts of the job without a great deal of difficulty.

Advertise your jobs

Employers should remember to compile thorough and accurate descriptions in their online job postings and utilize top employment sites when advertising an open position with their company. If students are aware of what types of jobs are available, locations, and what is entailed, they may be more likely to modify their course choices according to what is actually out there.  Individuals who have not yet entered the job market need a clear and realistic view of the employment conditions and what will be expected of them in order to become a well-rounded candidate.

Extract existing hidden talents

Quite often, employers are not aware of the hidden capabilities among their existing work Skills Magnifier Shows Expertise Abilities And Competencestaff.  It’s important to remain in tune with employees, document all of their skills, and promote job mobility from within the organization.  Very often, a new employee may not disclose certain skills because they mistakenly believe it may not be pertinent to their job.  Leaving an open area on job applications for varied and atypical skills or addressing the subject during interviews can help employers glean a more detailed understanding of a candidate’s qualifications.

Partner with educators

One of the most obvious ways of bridging the gap between employee skills and employer expectations is to deal directly at the source.  Teaming with corporate training organizations, colleges, and universities is not a new concept, yet many organizations may fail to utilize this option.  One corporation who did take advantage of the opportunity was IBM, who in 2014, collaborated with 28 universities and business schools, designing guides to assist in preparing students for future employment at the organization.

The opportunities are numerous for business leaders to assist in bridging the skills gap and improve our nation’s ability to create quality talent, and in turn, quality products and services which all help to boost our economy.  Therefore, employers must consider the importance of their role in the development of job candidates and employees.


By Fred Coon, CEO


Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200

Beyond Your Profile Page: Why Execs Must Remain Active On LinkedIn

For quite some time now, you’ve surely been hearing how important it is to have and maintain a LinkedIn profile.  There are a multitude of reasons to keep your LinkedIn profile, staying-active-on-linkedin-laptop-with-smartphone-lightbulb-iconsnot only in existence, but as a functional online force.   Its value spans way beyond the  well known job-search and recruitment advantages; it can aid you with brand promotion and marketing, industry intelligence, and professional development, to name a few.

Keeping your experience up-to-date is just as important as building an expansive network of peers on the social media platform.  Moreover, many busy executives may overlook the importance of maintaining relevance by actually being active and participating as a LinkedIn member.

Here we will explore some valuable tips and reminders, as well as the importance of staying relevant on the social platform.

Profile Basics

Modify your URL

While you may assume your profile is receiving regular searches, this may or may not be the case, depending on what type of position you hold.  Although executives may receive more LinkedIn traffic than lower-rung counterparts, the LinkedIn platform is vast and competition is strong.  One way to assure your name appears on frequent searches is to customize your URL.  Luckily, this is not difficult, and basically consists of using your full name and job-title.  If you have a common name, add your middle-initial and a degree acronym and/or job title.  During the editing process, you will notice a “view profile” button which will allow you to observe how your profile looks to those in your network and beyond.  Continue to fine-tune your settings until you are satisfied with how your profile appears to the public.

Stay Current

When you acquire a new skill, get a promotion, change jobs, achieve a new accomplishment, or earn a new degree, it’s imperative that you update your LinkedIn profile to reflect what’s new in your professional life.  By staying current, you are allowing yourself to remain on the radar of groups that matter to you since your profile is immediately visible to members or companies you choose to follow.

Social Interaction

Post Daily

The only way for your professional online presence to remain fresh in the minds of your LinkedIn colleagues and connections is to be involved! Try to remember to post two status-updates a day; preferably one in the morning and one later in the day.  Consider sharing an industry-relevant article you’ve read, even writing some of your own content on a subject you’ve been researching, or a simple update reflecting some exciting career news.  It only takes a few minutes a day, can be done from any location, and is a perfect way to remain current and pertinent.

Stay in the Mix

When you finally begin posting status updates and articles, you will find satisfaction in seeing when your connections begin to comment, share, and “like” your content.  Therefore, why not do the same for them?  Not only may you learn something new from their subject matter, but you are also facilitating a new channel of communication.  Remember to engage daily so as not to fade into the background.

Be a Joiner

LinkedIn has countless groups pertaining to an innumerable amount of industries, fields, and topics of all kinds.  When first becoming an active LinkedIn member, it may seem logical to join as many as you can.  After all, the more involved you wish to be in your platform, the more groups you should join, correct? Well, this is not entirely accurate.  In fact, the whole point of joining groups on LinkedIn is to participate and have something valuable to offer; and it’s not likely you will be able to offer a worthwhile contribution if you join more than you can realistically handle.  Instead, try choosing a maximum of five LinkedIn groups to which you know you are capable of being actively involved.

Reach Out

There is no doubt you have an excellent network of followers who encompass talent from all ends of every industry relevant to you right now.  However, don’t become too complacent by failing to reach out to new members.  Take a look at LinkedIn’s “People Youstaying-active-on-linkedin-social-media-animation May Know” feature, and put it to use.  Follow members strategically through groups you’ve become active in, and utilize search options to locate people in your own area as well.


In 2016, every executive knows they must be involved in social media, with LinkedIn being the number one website of choice.  However, in this age of networking, you are closing the door to limitless advantages, connections and opportunities by allowing your LinkedIn presence to grow stagnant.  So, sign in today and be active!

By Fred Coon, CEO


Take your job search and LinkedIn profile to new levels and achieve your career goals with Leveraging LinkedIn for Job Search Success 2015 will transform how you use LinkedIn on a daily basis and create a profile that will WOW recruiters and hiring managers.