In this new blog series, our mbaMission Career Coaches offer invaluable advice and industry-related news to help you actively manage your career. Topics include building your network, learning from mistakes and setbacks, perfecting your written communication, and mastering even the toughest interviews. To schedule a free half-hour consultation with one of our mbaMission Career Coaches, click here.
We know many of you are still actively job seeking. If you took part in on-campus recruiting this fall and did not receive an offer, here are five reasons you may not have been successful—and more importantly, our advice for making you a more compelling candidate in the spring!
Lack of clear career goals or having career goals that were too ambitious: When employers are considering you for a position, they seek evidence that you truly want the job and have the skills to do it. Were your target roles realistic given your experience and skill set? Here are a few ways to investigate:
- Seek advice from mentors, networking contacts, classmates, and your business school’s career management office. Look at the LinkedIn profiles of people in your target roles; what backgrounds do they possess?
- Evaluate the gap between your skill set and the required skill set. Ask whether you might take any interim steps (roles) to build requisite qualifications, and then eventually move into your ideal role.
- Define and believe in your goals. Revisit the self-assessment you completed at the start of business school. Look to understand your interests and skills. Identify how to communicate your goals in an authentic and genuine manner.
Application to too few firms—fewer than five: Finding a full-time job is a competitive process. The more applications you submit, the better your odds. Consider the following:
- Our recommendation is to target between eight and 12 companies at one time—categorize the firms into your top tier, middle tier, and bottom tier. Make sure your friends/classmates know your target companies, because they may have connections at those firms.
- Do not apply to a job on your school’s job board without first thinking about whether the opportunity makes sense given your interests and skills. Can you tell a compelling story about why you want the job and how you will add value? You will increase your chances of success if you spend time conducting research and networking.
- Recognize that the job opportunities in some industries or functions are more limited now that on-campus recruiting is winding down. Understand the hiring process/timing in your target areas of interest and readjust your list of target firms accordingly.
Lack of dedication to the recruiting process: We know that the fall semester is hectic with academic, extracurricular, and recruiting commitments, but you may not have devoted as much time as necessary to the recruiting process. Here are some tips for revamping your job search:
- Starting now, make your job search a priority. Dedicate a specific number of hours to recruiting per week. (Put them on your calendar!)
- Create a job search plan with mini goals, and hold yourself accountable to these mini goals each week. Build in milestones at which to stop and reevaluate your progress and any feedback from the marketplace. Track your progress on an Excel spreadsheet. In addition, check out our blog post about creating a job search plan.
- Make sure that your efforts are approximately 80% proactive (e.g., identifying target firms, reaching out to people and networking) and roughly 20% reactive (e.g., looking at your business school’s job board).
Lack of “true” advocates within your target firms: Did you really build relationships with people in your target firms or simply have transactional conversations? Do not underestimate the value of an internal advocate who is pushing for you to get the interview or the job. This is a good time to evaluate your approach to advocates thus far:
- Make sure your advocates know you well enough to tell your story and provide a positive endorsement of your candidacy.
- Review your networking conversations for verbal and nonverbal reactions to your approach and your candidacy. Evaluate your approach, including the content of your email requests, questions asked during conversations, and follow-up thank you notes. Refine your networking pitch and approach.
- Network aggressively (but professionally). Find contacts at your target companies and schedule informational meetings. Check out the mbaMission blog for tips on networking.
Inability to sell yourself/lack of preparation: Finding the balance between being overly confident and underselling yourself is critical for success. We suggest taking the following steps:
- Debrief your fall recruiting efforts (specifically interviews). What insights can you gather about your performance? Seek feedback on how you present yourself. Ask classmates, your school’s career management center, and former colleagues for their first impressions of you.
- Know the qualifications and attributes your target firm seeks, and create a compelling story to show how you fit.
- Make sure all your job search materials (e.g., resume, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles) are memorable and relevant to your target audience. Check out the mbaMission blog for tips on crafting these materials.
- Research industry trends and company products. Have an opinion on and be willing and able to engage in conversation about these topics.
- Know what to expect in the interview process, such as the format and types of questions typically asked.
- Practice interviewing (out loud) with peers or even alone by recording yourself on your phone. Try to simulate a real interview situation so you can practice interviewing under pressure.
Have you been admitted to business school? If so, do you want to get a head start on defining your career goals? Do you need help preparing for job interviews or learning how to effectively network with your target employers? Or maybe you want to be a top performer in your current role but are unsure how to maximize your potential. Let an mbaMission Career Coach help via a free 30-minute consultation!