How much is too much

How much is too much

Last year, 179,600 people were recorded to have attained a postgraduate diploma or degree. This, out of 288,900 university graduates in 2012.

The figures were released by the Department of Statistics Singapore, in response to queries from TNPS.

Good or bad?

Human resources experts say that having multiple postgraduate qualifications can sometimes be more of a bane than a boon.

Mr Erman Tan, president of the Singapore Human Resources Institute reckons three Master's may be "an overkill".

"Some employers may feel that the person is overqualified, if he has a PhD but is applying for a junior management job," he says.

Employers can be apprehensive even if the candidate is willing to accept a salary on par with peers without the extra certificates.

"There may be an impression that you are looking for the earliest opportunity to jump ship, something like riding a donkey looking for horses," he adds.

Are they useful?

It depends largely on the nature of the job role and specialised knowledge required, says Ms Christine Sim, director at recruitment firm PrimeStaff Management Services.

Mr Tan points out that a Master's might complement an employee's core competency. He says: "For example, if you're an engineer with an MBA, you might be able to demonstrate ability to empathise and connect with people.

"Another example of a combination that could work is a lawyer who later gets a degree in accountancy."

Postgraduate degrees may be more relevant in the research and academic world, and less so in the commercial world where being overqualified can be seen as being "too academic" or "too theoretical", he says.

When to get it

"Generally, mature learners pursue their Master's and PhDs after they have discovered their career interest and wish to forge a stronger pathway with those qualifications.

"This is more so if such studies are employer-sponsored, as it is a clear indication that the companies value their commitment to furthering themselves," says Ms Sim.

Mr Tan recommends those who want to pursue postgraduate degrees to do so after two to three years of working experience.

Do your homework and find out how relevant the degree is to your career, and if your company's HR department recognises or prefers such degrees, he says.

"See the world, grow in maturity, and find out what you really want out of life before embarking on the next lap of studying," he says.

"Some employers may feel that the person is overqualified, if he has a PhD but is applying for a junior management job." - Mr Erman Tan, president of the Singapore Human Resources Institute


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