HR Pro: ‘Master’s Degrees Often HURT an Application’

By Dianna Dilworth Comment

In a controversial comments thread, one anonymous human resources professional told a writer with a creative writing master’s degree: “I work in HR and master’s degrees often HURT an application more than help, especially in entry level positions.”

Getting an MFA is creative writing or English is an impressive accomplishment, but it’s not always going to be an asset in the real world job hunt. Unless you are looking for a job in teaching, writing or publishing, an MFA could actually be seen as an obstacle to getting an entry level job.

What do you think? Recent graduate Eric Auld decided to run a job-search experiment. He posted a fake entry level job on Craigslist to check out the competition and see how many higher learning folks were applying to these jobs. He received 653 responses in one day. 

He blogged about the applicants’ educational backgrounds: “I was a bit relieved to discover that not many folks with Master’s degrees applied (only three percent) — though, as previously mentioned, I’m not sure how much education usually factors into this process. I counted anybody with a relevant clerical/office administration certificate with the Associate’s group, since those applicants still received a higher education of some sort.”

One of the most interesting parts of his experiment, which has garnered some media attention, is the feedback from human resources people and small business owners. In the comments of his blog post about his experiment, a few HR professionals wrote that a master’s degree can hurt your chances of getting a job.

Sarah wrote: “Not to burst your bubble re: your master’s degree but I work in HR and master’s degrees often HURT an application more than help, especially in entry level positions. We figure that you will be so bored in two weeks and resentful of having to take such a low end job that it’s just not worth it to hire you. I pretty much toss out all applications with Master’s for entry level jobs at first sight. My professional advice to you would be to take it off your resume.”

Small Business Owner commented: “I own a small business and completely agree with this statement. That is the 2nd thing I look for when getting through all those emails, right after deleting ones that are incomplete. I do not want to waste my time training someone that will just be itching to move onto another job.”