Employers are coming around.  More and more HR practitioners are realizing that college graduates from online programs, especially those who studied online through a well-known, “brick and mortar” college with a strong reputation, are just as qualified as their counterparts with traditional degrees.  According to a SHRM poll released in August 2010, 19% of HR professionals surveyed “strongly agree” and 68% “agree” online degrees are viewed more favorably today than five years ago.

It’s up to students and graduates to show & tell prospective employers how their online credentials add up.  Think about these tips when you’re putting together a resume and overcoming objections in a job interview:

1.  Talk up the Tech. Explain the format of online courses, and how the necessity of developing and using social media skills makes you ahead of others in areas of emerging technology.  By interacting regularly in a virtual context, you’re prepared to connect within today’s global marketplace that may be solely web-based.

2. Diversity and Global Perspective. Since faculty and classmates are many times located outside of your geographical area, you have exposure to a more diverse group of ideas and mindsets. You’re learning and engaging within a global environment, which is a perspective that transfers well to any professional environment.

3.  Online does not equal easy. Not everyone can be successful in online classes.  Self-discipline, self-motivation and time-management are crucial.  Learning how to juggle competing life, family, work and school priorities is very valuable in the professional world.  The amount of reading is intense as well, so having the ability to remain focused and proactive with required assignments also develops naturally for an online learner.

4.  Communication skills are top-notch. Because so much of online coursework is discussion-based with fellow classmates and instructors, students sharpen and expand written communication skills throughout their program – not just in writing-based courses and research projects.

5.  You are CUNY. The School of Professional Studies is part of the nation’s leading public urban institution.  It is important to point out the CUNY’s prestigious faculty, excellent scholarly reputation, as well as the full accreditation by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Associations of Colleges and Schools in 2010.

Companies and organizations are becoming more aware of the value of online degrees, and web-based learning is becoming more and more prevalent.  It will be up to you – online students & alumni – to properly market these competencies and perform up to those expectations.

Have you heard any objections from employers to your unique online education?  I invite you to comment with these challenges.  I also hope you’ll share some more ideas about how you think SPS students can articulate your outstanding online qualifications.

Shannon Gallo is the Manager of Career Services at the CUNY School of Professional Studies. When she’s not helping others achieve their career dreams, she’s cheering on the West Virginia Mountaineers.

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