In the wake of the 2008 financial fiasco, many of my friends found themselves "hiding in graduate school”. Most have gone on to do amazing things. But for some others that graduate degree isn’t landing them the positions they had hoped for.
Now I want to be clear that I am not intending to devalue education. It is incredibly important. I want, rather, to introduce the idea that the degrees offered by most Universities today often do not give the graduate all the skills they will need to be successful in a Sales or Marketing role.
In most state schools, more teaching is happening around billboard design than email marketing. More emphasis is being placed on TV commercial and radio jingle best practices while digital lead generation is not even discussed. Modern social networks are discussed as a form of broadcast (and not engagement).
As I write this I am flipping through a Marketing textbook published in 2012, that discusses WAP sites, Apple’s “Ping” social network (remember that) 16 of the 388 pages discuss social media. A heavy emphasis is placed on brick and mortar retail, and the only mention of eCommerce I can find is in the glossary. It’s listed as “online retailing - a type of shopping available to consumers with personal computers and access to the internet”. The TWO PAGES given to the concept of mobile technology are illustrated with pictures of classic Nokia (remember Snake?) phones and Palm Pilots.
Why am I ranting about this textbook? Well, I can tell you that it takes more than the knowledge in this book to succeed in business today. While that is true with any degree, this illustrates just how fast the world is moving. You can’t read this textbook and go and make Warby Parker. Those folks had to stay up to date and learn the business for themselves.
Marketing trends simply change too quickly. A marketing degree does not set you up for success in the modern business landscape by itself. Even if you get completely up to speed and an expert in everything available today, you’ll be left behind in a few months.
This is why it is important to stay up to date with continuing education. Did you hear that online training website Lynda.com recently sold to LinkedIn for over a Billion dollars? Why would that be? Let’s hear it from LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner himself:
When I look at lynda.com’s platform, I see a best-in-class collection of high-quality, premium content that is focused on professional skills — hundreds of thousands of videos, comprising thousands of full courses — that make it possible for anybody to easily and effectively acquire a skill needed to get their first job, get a promotion, land a business deal or advance their career.
LinkedIn realizes the value of showing specialized skills. For that matter, so does HubSpot, who recently launched an annual update to their Inbound Marketing Certification. The folks who complete this course and pass the examination can be trusted to come into a position at a company or agency with a very specific skill set. The skills required to perform Inbound Marketing.
This is one of five certifications available from HubSpot Academy, the online education center that the software company has built in the name of customer success. We are seeing all kinds of new ways to grow companies these days.
So when a marketing degree not enough for hiring managers? When a technology company becomes the best teacher of the skills required to make the most of their software, and the hiring manager needs someone proficient in those skills. That doesn’t make your University degree any less important, its just not enough.