How to Sell Your Online Degree to Employers

Most employers expect the usual: a traditional degree from a traditional school. You have an online degree. Does it lessen your chances of getting the job? Not necessarily—and it may even make you look like a better candidate. It all depends on how you sell it.

Don’t bring it up before you’re asked. A degree from Drexel is a degree from Drexel—whether you earned it online or on campus. A growing number of traditional schools are offering online degrees as well. They’re just as rigorous and legitimate as the traditional variety, and they often include the same courses adapted to an online learning environment. If you leap to the defense of your online degree before you’re specifically asked about it, your interviewer might read that as defensive—and red flags might go up.

You’re highly tech-savvy. Online students are often very comfortable with the latest software applications from Microsoft and other programs. Online degree programs often lean on technical programs heavily for material delivery and for projects—so chances are you know the software that’s applicable to your industry. You’ll probably be skilled at remote conferencing, online research and online communications as well—these are skills that are learned during the course of any online degree program. You may also be very knowledgeable of Web 2.0 social networking applications.

You can handle global operations. As an online student, chances are you’ve had to coordinate the efforts of a group of students in far-flung places to get a collaborative project done. Your fellow students may have been coming from different countries, different cultures and different time zones. Managing global teams is a valuable skill in many corporate and organizational settings—and your online degree prepares you with this skill.

You’re highly self-motivated. Online graduates don’t need any hand-holding. You’re used to working independently without constant direction and contact from supervisors. As a nontraditional student, you may have had to fit your study time around family and full-time work obligations—so you’re no stranger to time-management and multitasking. Online students are often highly independent and capable in work environments due to work habits they developed during their studies.

You’re ambitious. Online students are often nontraditional, and nontraditional students don’t take the easy or expected route of going to college directly after graduation. They build up work experience and make the often-difficult choice to go back to school to earn a degree in an industry they’re passionate about. Your online degree signifies a commitment to this career that more traditional graduates may not be able to claim.

You’re an excellent communicator. Online students have to communicate constantly in a variety of different media—in writing, in podcasts and in videocasts. As an online student, chances are you’re excellent at both written and oral communication. In the online learning environment, email communication skills are your first impression on a professor—and you need to get it right if you want a good grade. In addition, as an online student you would have had to defend arguments, ask questions, clarify points, and coordinate efforts of team-members through email—so you have to be a good written communicator. Highlight your communication skills in a variety of formats.

You’re good with people. Think it’s hard doing a group project in a traditional learning format? Try doing it online. Your fellow students are often located many miles away, have widely differing schedules and are probably from diverse age and cultural groups—unlike traditional student groups, who tend to be of similar ages and backgrounds. As an online student, you’ll come to the workplace already equipped with the interpersonal skills needed to deal with the variety of people, schedules and ability levels you’ll encounter in the workplace.

An online degree can be a strong selling point. Online students are ambitious and motivated, competent and independent—and they’re used to working with a wide range of people with varying schedules and backgrounds. In addition, online students are often very knowledgeable about the latest software and online trends—they’re immersed in an online environment for years while they earn degrees. With the right explanation, your online degree can become a strong benefit—and it could be the qualification that gets you the job.