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Four Key Qualities of a Successful Job Seeker

This post was written by our resident Career Coach, Elissa Harris. To sign up for a free 30-minute career consultation with Elissa, please click here.

We have all been reading a lot about how different the world looks now under COVID-19 restrictions—and while that is true, it is also important to recognize what is the same. The key principles of job searching remain the same even though you may need to expend more energy on the job search and apply these principles in a more creative way. 

Below, we at mbaMission share our guidance on how to leverage four key qualities of a successful job seeker in any job market: 

Generosity (definition: the quality of being kind) In a job search, generosity means focusing on giving back to others, building genuine relationships, and expressing sincere appreciation for help. 

  • Take the call. When an alum from your undergraduate or graduate institution reaches out for advice or guidance, respond. Offer feedback on skills required to land a specific job, make introductions, and share the alum’s resume with a hiring manager. 
  • End every networking call with your appreciation. Ask a question like “Is there anything I can do to help you?” or extend an offer such as “If you think anyone in your network would benefit from my areas of expertise, please feel free to make an introduction.” Write a thank-you email after each call. 
  • Offer assistance on LinkedIn. Post your willingness to help, share open positions within your company (using the keywords “I’m hiring” or “We are hiring”), and/or join groups and answer questions posed to those groups.
  • Keep your network updated. Thank your contacts for their introductions and connections. Let them know what actions you took based on their advice. 

Resilience (definition: the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness) In this economy, believing in yourself is more important than ever. You will likely get a lot of “no” answers before you get a “yes.” Show employers that you do not view hurdles as insurmountable; overcoming failures develops your adaptability, grit, and persistence. 

  • Learn from each interaction. Track feedback on what you can do better, and find ways to improve. Rejections do not mean you are not qualified or you will not find another opportunity of interest.
  • Focus on your transferable skills and functional expertise, not just your industry knowledge. Consider a pivot that will help you secure a role in the short term but keeps you on your target career trajectory.
  • Demonstrate comfort with ambiguity. Companies and hiring managers may not have answers to all your questions as they are adapting in real time to the changing environment. Hiring processes may be slow. Remember that even though this is your number-one priority, your hiring manager may have more pressing priorities. 
  • Give yourself time to be frustrated when an opportunity of interest does not come to fruition. Self-care is important; reenergize and celebrate mini-milestones. 

Curiosity (definition: a strong desire to know or learn something) Learning does not stop when you graduate from school. Read about Carol Dweck’s perspective on the growth mindset and its impact on work.  

  • Develop and share your perspective on an industry of interest—including products, business models, innovations, and disruptions—and use it as a basis for networking conversations. Post it to your LinkedIn newsfeed. 
  • Be a scholar of business. Consider how different industries and senior leaders are adjusting to the changing market. Evaluate how leaders are communicating with their employees and consumers; read a recent letter from Airbnb’s CEO Brian Chesky or watch a video from Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson
  • Take online courses to build skills or learn the latest on specific topics of interest. Read our blog post on upskilling. Follow target companies on LinkedIn and other social media platforms. 
  • Tap into your networks to ask for help. Brainstorm questions to ask in networking that solicit robust conversations and show the depth of your passion. 

Preparation (definition: the action or process of making ready or being made ready for use or consideration) There are more candidates in the job market than in the recent past, so find ways to stand out.  

  • Set realistic expectations. Have a Plan A and a Plan B (and even a Plan C). Craft a larger than usual target company list (~25 organizations). Double (or even triple) your efforts. Do not settle for one or two networking calls a week; aim to conduct three to five every week. 
  • Know your pitch. Clarify your value proposition for specific opportunities, and practice articulating your experiences. Find partners for mock interviews. 
  • Update your resume and optimize your LinkedIn profile. Ensure they align with your key messaging and include relevant keywords. 



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