As an MBA candidate, starting your job search is hard! I’ve been there. You are going through classes, projects, happy hours with your classmates and on top of that, you have to think about what exactly you are going to do after you get your MBA.
For some, there is a clear path. For others, it could be overwhelming with all the different routes you could take.
I wrote this short guide to help you whether you have an idea about what you want to do or if you’re still exploring your options. At the end of the day, everyone is facing the same challenges while finding an MBA job. Enjoy!
#1 Whoever Networks The Most Wins
Use Linked.Com/Alumni to Find People from Your School That Work at The Company
Remember the saying: “It’s not what you know but who you know?” You’ve probably lost count by now! Well, as old as that saying goes, it’s still refreshingly useful in the modern world.
Today, the number one way to find an MBA job fast is to find someone inside the company or organization you intend to work in that could help you get in. Building relationships has proven to be an invaluable skill if you need success in your career.
Get someone you can count on to assist you in taking a meaningful and life-changing step up the ladder.
One of my most significant recommendations is to leverage your rock-solid LinkedIn network to connect with people that you have shared connections.
One fast way to do that is to, for example, find people that went to the same school as you by using the linkedIn.com/alumni tool.
This tool will allow you to filter on people working at specific companies that ALSO went to your school.
Getting an MBA job is about taking time and involving yourself in a strategic preparation.
You have to learn how to do your homework very well. By connecting with people with shared connections, it also tells you the values to adopt and explore without compromising your values in the process.
Let me explain why networking with other people is a lot more important than making a perfect resume and applying to numerous MBA job postings that might end up disappointing you.
First, the hiring managers in nearly every organization or company typically look at candidates internally.
There’s a motivation behind this. It is a lot easier to find highly qualified people if they have been working at the company already. It also creates opportunities for people to stay at the company rather than look outside.
Second, the hiring managers and recruiters look at the referrals. The referral pool is another great way for them to find candidates.
As someone whose qualifications are shy of the necessary and core requirements, a strong recommendation from someone within the company can help to narrow the gap between you and other highly qualified candidates for the job.
It is more important to note something here: Recommendations, along with a strong and powerful endorsement, are excellent. The question here is:
Who is the person recommending you?
It is advisable to be more tactical about the person dropping your name in the referral pool. Typically, when someone refers you, he or she will indicate how they know you and you are a good fit.
Make sure you demonstrate that to them before asking for that referral.
The last pool that managers in every organization look at is the external applications from their website and other aggregators like indeed.com, glassdoor.com, among others.
Hence, if you want to maximize your chances of getting an interview, you have to get into the referral pool.
Since recruiters and hiring managers see employee referrals to be one of the most efficient means of finding fresh talents and suitable candidates for a job, most MBA job seekers become fond of reaching out to everyone they know to ask for a referral. I will not recommend you taking that lane.
Instead, utilize your LinkedIn very well for professionals who can give you a very good referral. You can do so by finding people you’ve created solid relationships within your connections.
Take the time to explore the opportunities of learning about their careers and their experiences working at the company you hope to work for.
Once you succeed in establishing a rapport with them, politely ask if they could give you a referral as you are very passionate about the company after your conversation.
If they agree, don’t forget to send them your resume to review your credentials before referring you. Remember: Referral thrives on the strength of relationships between you and the person referring you.
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Use LinkedIn To Find People in Similar Positions at The Company
If you can’t find anyone working at the company of interest that went to your school, it’s not the end of the world.
What I recommend doing next is searching for people on LinkedIn that are in the same or similar positions that you are applying. It works better than personally reaching out to recruiters.
Why? The reason is simple! Recruiters are some of the most contacted people. They get HUNDREDS of emails per day from candidates about more than one position. Add to that: their daily work with their internal stakeholders of the company.
If you reach out to people via LinkedIn and ask them for 15-20 minutes of their time to learn more about what they do, the response rate will be pretty high.
People love to talk about their jobs. However, this doesn’t mean that every single person will readily respond or find time to meet with you.
But you don’t need too many people to respond and be willing to meet your demands. All you need is 1-2 people.
Sometimes, your search for people in similar roles might not give you the results you so desire. When this happens, and it does often, try finding people in related teams.
Once you meet with them, ask to be connected with someone closer to the organization you’re trying to get into.
If you get responses, but then the person disappears, make sure you follow up. Please, avoid being too pushy while you’re at it.
Sometimes emails get lost in the inbox, and people would appreciate the follow-up. Again, make sure you follow up!
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#2 Six-Figure MBA Jobs Start With A Six-Figure Resume
Use the Right Resume Template
There’s no denying the fact that there’s always a challenging hill for MBA job seekers to climb. It’s your duty to learn how to sell yourself to recruiters and hiring managers effectively.
And that is the purpose of your resume. It’s the very first thing that draws attention to you and makes recruiters and hiring managers look at you to determine if you’re fit.
It’s what goes before you, speak for you, and wields power (effectively or otherwise) to convince recruiters and hiring managers that you’re the right person for the job.
I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at long resumes with inaccuracy, poor structure, weak bullet points, and information not related to the position the person is applying for.
Think of your resume as an opportunity to make first impressions.
What should go into the resume?
First, you have to have a strong career profile. That is the very first thing recruiters and hiring managers look at to get a sense of who you are.
A career profile summarizes your skills, experiences, and goals as they relate to the job opening you’re applying for. A well-written career profile shows your employer what you have to offer and what you intend to do for the company if you’re employed.
I advise people, as much as it’s necessary to do so, to make sure they always include a career profile in their resume since it makes them stand apart from hundreds of other job seekers applying for the same role in a company.
Most employers allocate little time to your resume, and nearly all of it is utilized at the topmost part of your resume, where the profile is to understand you briefly. Can you now see the power of a well-cut career profile?
Second, you have to list RELEVANT work experience ideally tailored to the position you’re applying. Although this is very important, many MBA job seekers often ignore it.
Learn to include in your resume only qualifications and skills that are required by recruiters and hiring managers for the job you’re applying.
Lastly, and this is extremely important, I highly recommend that you have a section called “Additional” to list unique things about yourself that would be great conversation starters.
What do I mean by conversation starters?
If you have a section at the bottom with some information about a particular sport you played in college, or an interesting club you were part of, the recruiters and interviewers will likely gravitate towards that section and ask you some questions.
This conversation becomes a unique thing about you that they will likely remember.
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Use Keywords From The Job Posting To Tailor Your Resume
When you apply for a job or send your resume to someone, you are likely pursuing a particular position at the company. It is essential that you create your resume to reflect the job you’re applying for.
This means it will not be useful if you send the same resume for different MBA job openings. Each job opening has its unique requirements and it is your duty to make sure that your resume reflects them.
As such, your resume gets reviewed either by an automated system or a recruiter/hiring manager. Guess what they look at? They look at whether you have relevant experience for the position they are looking to fill in.
Keeping this in mind, the number one thing you could do is use the keywords from the job description in your resume. Make sure that when recruiters or hiring managers go through your resume, your expertise in the area you’re hoping to fill in is well-tailored.
Now, you might say that you’re applying for a position that is new to you and you have absolutely no experience in that area.
Well, I would take a bet that you have a lot of what the hiring managers are looking for in terms of your resourcefulness, leadership, and problem solving.
Let me point something out – you have to write your keywords for humans first. If you were to skim through your own resume, where would those keywords jump at you? Most likely it will be the first 1-2 bullet points for the last few positions you held. I have a personal story about this.
I once was interviewing for a job and the interviewers kept asking me whether I have had experience developing a business case.
In my previous role, I have not called any deliverables a business case. However, I would always create deliverables that would justify the proposed projects and investments. It turned out that all of them could have been categorized as the business case and I should have used that keyword in my resume.
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Use Impact For Your Bullet Points, Not Job Tasks And Duties
Here is an observation: 99% of resumes use job duties in bullet points without ever mentioning the impact that YOU have made in the organization.
What helps to make an impactful resume is impactful bullet points. They clarify and highlight your specific skills and strengths for the position you’re applying for.
How do you make bullet points impactful?
In using bullet points, focus on the things that you have accomplished rather than the things that you were just doing as part of your job.
Let’s assume, for example, you were a project manager of a big initiative that simplified a payroll process.
What most people would write in their resume would be something like this: “Managed multiple projects collaborating with cross-functional teams.”
If you are a hiring manager looking at a resume with this bullet point, what comes to mind? Great job doing your job? That question solicits answers that shows your impact after doing what you did.
Now, what if you changed that bullet point and focus it around impact?
Here is the same bullet point shaped around YOUR impact: “Led a $3MM project over 2 years focusing on streamlining the payroll process; successfully completed the project 2 months before the deadline while saving the company over $10MM annually.”
See the difference?
First, you provide context and your contribution.
Second, you talk about the impact in either quantifiable terms (if you can) or qualitatively (e.g. “which will result in increased revenue to the company”).
It is disturbing to see how many job seekers take the easy route and simply list the job duties. This is average and won’t make your resume stand out from competition.
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Create A Powerful Profile Summary
If your resume gets in someone’s hands, the first thing that gets looked at is your profile summary. If you do not write it well, that might be the last thing they look at.
Remember we said that recruiters and hiring managers are some of the busiest people on earth, constantly inundated with emails and meetings with stakeholders?
That’s a tough job that guarantees little patience. This is where a powerful profile summary is powerful! It makes their life bearable for them. And for you, too.
The main purpose of the profile summary is to tell the recruiter or a hiring manager whether he or she should continue looking at your resume or go on to the next candidate.
As such, creating a short and concise profile summary that will give someone your sales pitch is critical.
Some people still have the objective section in a resume, but it needs to be replaced with your profile.
What would you put in your profile summary? Think of it this way – if you get into an elevator with a hiring manager and that is your only opportunity to make a good impression, what would you say?
Sounds hard but it’s not. I actually created a formula in this YouTube video –
How To Write A WINNING Resume Profile or Summary – Tutorial. If you do not have time to watch the video, here is an example (assume you are a Marketing Manager):
Accomplished Marketing Manager with 8 years of experience in Email and Social Media Management [provide credibility]. Throughout my career, I have successfully managed to bring in up to 80% more leads by optimizing Marketing spend and refining the “Path to Purchase” [show some impressive impact]. Currently looking to transition to a high-performing Marketing team and contribute my expertise in conversion optimization, storytelling, and data analysis. [Always connect the dots and be clear on what you are looking for].
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#3 Make Them Remember You
Find Out About Company Career Events and Show Up
If there is one thing that I learned from over a decade applying to jobs and going through interviews is that you HAVE to separate yourself from other candidates. In fact, take it as a rule not to apply for any job until you have carried out a (primary or secondary) research on them and acquired strong and verifiable information.
The best way to do so is to find moments when you could speak with recruiters and hiring managers while getting their full attention.
Let me give you an example. When I was going through the process of finding an internship, I got an email from a recruiter that the company I was interested in is hosting office hours to answer candidate questions. These office hours were on a Friday afternoon and I was certain the turnout would be low.
All prepared with questions, I went to the office hours and guess what? I was the only person there at that time and I had the opportunity to speak
with the recruiter and a few other people from the company. I was told that only a few people have attended the event.
After I got the internship and met with the recruiter for lunch, I was told that she put a huge star next to my name as she remembered very well the questions I was asking, and she did see that I was well-prepared.
Moral of the story – if I had ten or twenty people in the room with me asking the same questions, I would not have been able to make people remember who I was.
Now, if there are no events the company is hosting, you have to create those opportunities. How? Reach out to people, network, and ask for some one-on-one time either over the phone or in the Starbucks close to their office.
Creating time to discuss with a recruiter about an opening and the company offering it is a great way to stand out from other applicants.
However, where some companies do not have career events and show up, they have press releases, websites, or public relations where you can easily find sufficient and necessary information about them.
It is essential that you have knowledge about the kind of applicant and potential employee the company desires. What is the company’s mission?
How do you fit into its history, present and future? How does the culture of the company align with your specific ambitions in life and how effectively would your qualifications (no matter how little) be to the company as a whole?
Do they have a genuine interest in the welfare of their employees? The answers to these questions easily come if you take time to find out about the company.
Remember: Researching a company and trying to know about it is a sure pointer to the employer that you are serious about the job.
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Treat Your LinkedIn Profile as A Sales Tool
Today, LinkedIn is, arguably, the number one place and resource center to sell yourself when it comes to social networking.
Here is the thing – over 90% of people that you will speak with during your job search process will look you up on LinkedIn.
It is extremely important that your LinkedIn profile gives those people the best impression about you.
What this means is that your profile picture has to be professional and your profile summary has to stand out. Make sure that it is also hundred percent completed so as to properly project you in the market.
Recruiters and hiring managers may decide to do background checks on you, especially when they’re getting interested in you.
LinkedIn seems to be the most available and most professional platform for them to do so. Let your LinkedIn profile be free from spelling errors.
Learn to connect to as many people as possible, for the purpose of having unlimited information and opportunities. And you never can tell where that big breakthrough you’ve been waiting for might come from.
Further, you need to make sure that your professional experience is chronologically listed and provides a story of your career.
Now – you don’t need to copy your resume bullet points over to LinkedIn. However, you should definitely put your awards and other accomplishments.
What’s the bonus? Find interesting articles and share them with your network. Not only will it give you more visibility, but those articles will also show up on your profile when recruiters and hiring managers visit your page. It will also show them that 1) you cherish key and meaningful social interactions and relationships, the key to the success of any organization. 2) by keeping active connections and interacting with them at a high level, you’re a personal brand yourself, a gem to any company that gets you in the end.
Let me state this here again. As an MBA candidate, starting your job search is hard! But that doesn’t mean you won’t end up well, or you won’t be invited for an interview. There’s a reason why it’s called “Job-hunting.” You have to learn how to strategize yourself to get what you’re looking for.
Create that network. Take time to build a well-written resume with a formidable profile and all other qualities that recruiters or hiring managers usually look for. Make your research about the company. Go on LinkedIn and make yourself invaluable to any potential employer.
Sometimes, even when you don’t have all the qualifications a company needs, as long as you’ve done your task by following what is advised here (and even go beyond it), you might be the right person an MBA recruiter needs desperately.