** Tig's weekly column fields questions from and for marketers. Got a question for Tig? Email him by clicking here. **
I think I'm about to switch jobs from an ad agency to the client side. It's not my first jump, as this is my second agency. Will having switched jobs three times in six years make me “damaged goods” to prospective future employers?
The answer is probably not, but it depends on your context.
Employers do become wary of job candidates who seem instable. Often these suspicions are confirmed in interviews when the candidate speaks badly of previous employers or seems to lack direction with his next career move. Past job-hopping can be the first tip-off to the employer.
But the days of the one-company-one-career employee are over. And, incidentally, it wasn't the employees who broke this long-standing social contract, it was the employers that started regular rounds of lay-offs at each economic downturn in the marketing industry starting in the 1980s.
The perception of your job moves will also be colored by the type of marketing you do. If you hopped around the interactive marketing industry, this hopping would seem the norm (most people couldn't work more than a couple years at one of these jobs, as the companies seldom lasted that long). But if you hopped around in the large agency creative director sector, you may seem like either an incompetent or a prima donna.
The key consideration for your case is to make sure that you have a well-connected narrative that explains your moves in a positive way. If you can position this next job you want as the natural development from your hopscotch career path, then it doesn't matter how many jumps you made. You just need to have a convincing story.
I would like to do an online diploma course in marketing. Do you know of any university in the US that offers such a program?
There are some good offerings out there. Perhaps the most well-recognized university program is the one put on by the University of California Berkeley Extension.
Another credible online offering comes from Villanova which includes a rather comprehensive marketing course catalog. Different parts of the catalog are offered online during different terms.
You might also check out the University of Maryland University College programs.
As to diplomas, most of these extension programs offer some credit toward degrees, but none of them appear to offer a marketing-only degree program that you can earn exclusively online.
Of course there are “schools” out there that will give you an “accredited” degree in anything, and all it will cost you is $25 and a self-addressed, stamped envelope.
As a general rule with online courses, I've found you get what you pay for.
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