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5 Ways to Increase Your Job Security and Salary in an Uncertain Economy—Advice From a Top Philly Business School

In a struggling economy, concerns about stalled career advancement and job security affect almost everyone. But even in difficult times, you shouldn’t have to disregard your future and the value of your work. There are several ways to feel more secure in your position, and even take a leap forward in your career, that are especially effective during a difficult economic period. To help you feel confident about where you’re at and where you can go, we spoke with leaders from one of Philly’s top business schools about the steps people can take to ensure future job security and career advancement.

Find Out What the Company Needs

Joseph DiAngelo, Ed.D. is the dean of the Haub School of Business at Saint Joseph’s University. He’s also the former chair of the board for AACSB International, the organization charged with accrediting business schools worldwide. In that role, he gathered together a panel of industry experts from companies like Google, Microsoft and General Motors, to find out why they were no longer financing employees’ MBAs.

“Twenty years ago, you went to school, you sent the bill to HR and they paid for everything. They don’t do that anymore,” DiAngelo says. “They (the companies) told me you need to teach not just what the student needs to know for their career, but what the company needs them to know.”

Now, DiAngelo advises his students to sit down and talk with their leadership at work about what is needed for them to expand their role.

“It starts with a conversation with your boss about some of the problems they’re facing that they need new skills to address. And then you let them know that you’re going to go out and get these skills, and come back to be a part of the solution for the company,” he says.

If you can obtain experience in an area that is critical to the company’s future, the company avoids having to hire a new staff member and will instead be able to redirect resources to support your advancement. DiAngelo sees this a lot in graduate programs at Saint Joseph’s, where students will enroll to combine skills and knowledge in data science and analytics, paired with traditional business skills like marketing.

Start with a Certificate

If you’re looking for an even quicker boost to your career, a certificate for a specific skillset can make you a vital asset while also representing a first step on a new career path.

Vana Zervanos, Ed.D, associate dean in the Haub School of Business at Saint Joseph’s, who pioneered their new stackable MBA program, believes that, due to the number of new and evolving skills in an increasingly specialized job market, employees should look for the ability to create a customized certificate.

“We’re embracing certificates and allowing faculty to create new programs in real-time to address new challenges as they come up,” she says. “We’ve created a model that responds to the needs of the market as it evolves.”

DiAngelo advises that, for business leaders, it’s not a one-and-done deal—they should return throughout their career to get certified as technology continues to change. In fact, top companies are increasingly less concerned with degrees. Instead, they’re looking for the right badges and certifications that show the employee has the specific skills they need, or helping an employee receive a certificate for the necessary skills.

Demonstrate Your Leadership Skills

In a stressful business climate, companies don’t always take the time or make the space for an employee to take on new responsibilities. That’s why Zervanos recommends consciously seeking out opportunities to demonstrate leadership potential to pave the way for formal advancement.

It’s important to remember, however, that as industries rapidly evolve, the concept of “leadership” does too. As specialty skills become increasingly commonplace, companies are looking for people who can communicate between and manage employees who need to work together, but come from entirely different spheres. As issues like diversity and inclusion continue to gain steam within the business community, this also becomes critical for the culture of the workplace. The complexity and subtlety of these challenges make real-world experience critical—something Zervanos seeks to address at St. Joe’s.

“We give you real time practice working in teams to teach you about managing different people and situations, and navigating ethical questions in the workplace,” she says. “That isn’t something you can learn from a textbook alone.”

Look for a Program That Fits You

During an uncertain time, it can be difficult to take on a full-time degree without the promise of immediate gains. And in a modern business culture where companies often expect more from their employees for less, committing to a multi-year program might not be doable.

That’s why Zervanos and a team of faculty in Saint Joseph’s Haub School of Business developed their MBA program to be as efficient as possible. Many of the traditional foundation courses have been waived or replaced with free,  online options, and the number of credits were reduced, so that the degree can be completed in an efficient and flexible timespan.

Most importantly, the degree is structured so that you earn certificates along the way. You can take each certificate on an individual basis, or apply those credits to your degree. This allows you to achieve immediate progress in your career, but proceed at the pace you need. If you need to shift your focus as your career evolves (say you’d like to pick up a finance focus when you were studying management) your previous courses will go toward an interdisciplinary degree.

Encourage Your Company to Support Your Growth

Perhaps the most significant consideration for workers thinking about taking this step is the cost of an MBA. But if you demonstrate to your company that pursuing your education will reap cost-effective, financial rewards for them, they may offer partial or full tuition support.

That’s another concern that Zervanos and faculty attempted to address through redesigning the MBA program structure.

“By reducing the number of courses, while rewarding students with certificates, we’ve created a program that demonstrates a clear benefit to companies,” Zervanos says.    

Learn more about Saint Joseph’s University’s new MBA program.