So you’re about to get a stack of business cards printed but you’re on the horns of a dilemma – should you add ‘MBA’ as a suffix to your name on your visiting card?
Surely, two gruelling years at B School and the many thousands of dollars you spent to get that degree have earned you the right to flaunt those three little letters, right?
Here’s the short answer. For those who have spent hours wondering whether or not to use the ‘MBA’ suffix, or worse still, for those who have used it without a moment’s deliberation, we have just two little words – not cool!
Trumpeting those credentials – wait, can you even call it that? – will probably earn you ridicule and have you labelled as ‘pretentious’ and ‘insecure’.
If you can’t deal with the disappointment of being shot down, well, there are counter arguments too. So let’s get right to it, examine the pros and cons, and see just why the dice is heavily loaded against using ‘MBA’ on your business card.
– Some believe the ‘MBA’ suffix acts as a differentiator or an introduction to your level of education and motivation at work.
In times of fragile attention spans and getting noticed amid the clutter of competing information, this differentiator gives people the opportunity to see, in an instant, that you have an MBA degree, without them having to study your profile or resume.
Among the ‘people’ to whom this may make a difference are prospective employers, colleagues, other peers in the industry as well as clients and customers. It’s all about putting it out there. Being subtle is dead, times have changed. Get with it!
– Using the suffix tells prospective employers and recruiters that you have management ambitions, and it could roll the dice in your favour when scouting for better job prospects.
So, let’s say you gave your business card to someone who could introduce or recommend you to a firm that was looking out for someone with your career profile. If your visiting card said ‘MBA’, wouldn’t it raise your chances of landing the position?
It would tell them, right off the bat, that you are manager material, or better still, leadership material.
– Apart from revealing your ambitions, an ‘MBA’ suffix means you are capable of running a business or a company. It suggests that you have a solid foundation in business and a handle on the world of finance, commerce and management – no mean feat.
Advertising this could impress people at large, which could favourably dispose them towards you in professional as well as social situations.
Now if you want to know what the ‘nay’ sayers think, first wait for the sniggering and scoffing to die down. They believe that no argument is convincing enough unless you want to appear pretentious, bombastic, tasteless…get the drift?
But some would argue that that tom-tomming an MBA degree for professionals in ‘non-business’ career tracks is a must.
While a professional management degree is typically synonymous with careers in finance, marketing and even information technology, it is not usually associated with career tracks like engineering.
Hence, having the suffix on an engineer’s business card is a gentle reminder of their capabilities.
Recruiters and HR consultants, who should know better than the rest of us, are unmoved. They point out that nothing speaks louder than the confidence that comes with a solid academic and professional record.
Simply put, if you are an achiever and you have the capabilities to back that ambition, there is no reason to broadcast it on your business card. Actions speak louder than those three little letters do.
The ‘nay’ sayers also point out that those who feel the need to scream ‘MBA’ probably didn’t attend a top-notch B School. Yes, your B School matters more than the actual degree. And if you did attend the right B School but are insecure enough to still hang on to the ‘MBA’ tag, consider getting some therapy.
If you’re going for subtle, here’s another reason you want to leave ‘MBA’ off your business card. A ‘Masters in Business Administration’ does not give you a licence to practise anything, as does an MD or LLB degree, earned by doctors and lawyers.
Neither is it a certification sought by, say, a ‘CA’ (Chartered Accountant) or ‘CPA’ (‘Certified Public Accountant’). Nor does it carry the same academic weight as does a PhD degree.
The ‘nay’ sayers also point out that with the virtual explosion of MBA programs, including online degrees and those handed out by night schools, an ‘MBA’ no longer carries the ‘respect’ it once did.
So, if you’re still on the horns of a dilemma, we’ll say it one more time – it’s a ‘yes’ to including ‘MBA’ in your resume or LinkedIn profile (in the qualifications section where it rightly belongs!); a ‘no’ to your business card; and a ‘what were you thinking?’ to adding it to your email signature.
Finally, if you come across those who describe themselves as ‘an MBA’, you may realise that many of them are precisely those who shouldn’t advertise it at all!