MBA Jobs: From Dark Days to Present

And many of the offers these days are coming not from on-campus recruiters, but from newly established relationships with employers. “A lot of companies are sourcing talent without coming to campus and without posting jobs,” says Morton of Chicago’s Booth. “Over the last couple of years, students have done a much better job networking than they have in the past. And companies realized that as soon as they posted a job they were inundated with resumes. So they were better off mining their own contacts and networks.”

HARVARD NOW TEACHES MBAS HOW TO FISH AND DOESN’T FISH FOR THEM.

At Harvard, for example, the emergency plan that Kierstead put into effect called for more aggressively reaching out to companies to either solidify existing relationships or build new ones. Within an 18-month period starting in January of 2009, Harvard’s MBA Career staff met with 200 new companies that had never recruited at HBS along with 50 existing Harvard employers. The staff traveled throughout the U.S. and abroad to India, Hong Kong, Singapore, Paris, London, Beijing and Shanghai to cultivate these relationships. It also held splashy recruiter conferences in both Paris and Shanghai. “We really stepped up our employer relations efforts,” says Kierstead.

At home, the school added more coaches and now has a roster of 42 adjunct career coaches for students. It launched a Network Job Search Fellowship Fund to help students offset the costs to do their own job searches, including payment to travel for interviews outside the country. HBS also put more money into its Social Enterprise Summer Fellowship and two funds at the Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship to subsidize students who spend their summer working for non-profits or startups that couldn’t pay them as much as a mainstream company.

Most importantly, perhaps, the school launched an enhanced career support program with the Class of 2010. The goal: to equip MBAs with job search and networking skills for life. “We now teach them to fish,” says Kierstead. “We don’t fish for them. We give them all the tools and resources they need, but they have to own it and drive it. That is a life skill. There will be no on-campus recruiting or resume books for the rest of their lives.” The program teaches everything from basic networking skills to how to most effectively use LinkedIn. Some 90% of Harvard students now take advantage of the coaching program.