Insider Tips From An Expert MBA Recruiter

job interviewThe key to success is to focus on job families. If you’re a student interested in marketing and you have marketing experience, you could also look at sales or business development. Then kick off an engagement and marketing campaign to network. You should find relevant people to ask questions and refine your story–you’ll be a more attractive candidate because you understand your buyers. Once you understand their needs and pain points and how you can fix them, then you have something to sell.

This is no different than being an entrepreneur and servicing your clients–you need to start with discovery and then marketing. Students these days cut to the chase with the CV and cover letter, but often they don’t know what they’re selling, and what we want to buy, particularly when there are recruiters on campus from day one wanting to hire you.

Then you feel pressure and submit applications and enter application tracking systems for jobs that aren’t appropriate for you. It’s a downward spiral because most of these systems are visible to global recruiters. If they see that John Smith has been applying to XYZ and has been rejected for those roles on multiple occasions, then he no longer looks attractive–he looks like a high-risk candidate. So why go through that pain? That’s why you should start this process before your MBA program. Here’s another tip: Be careful about applying to jobs on big job boards, I’m really not a fan of those. If you start doing that, you’re not job searching.

What other job-search steps do you recommend prior to starting an MBA program?

Get ready to have lot of conversations. Career services is low-hanging fruit and a good place to start to get some ideas for engaging with industry professionals. Do not go to recruiters, they’re more interested in you if you’re fit for their organization. You need to go to industry professionals who know their business and would be happy and willing to spend time having a chat with you. Realistically, that would be alumni–they’re the ones who want to help you. With multiple conversations, I promise you, you’ll start to connect the dots and learn how to articulate what you want and need.

What’s the No. 1 piece of advice you give to MBAs starting a job search?

A recruiter is going to have three buckets. The first is for those candidates who have been referred to them. We’ll go to them first because they’re most likely to be the best fit. The second bucket contains the students I’ve found myself. I know exactly what I want, so why would I go through a pile of CVs? There are fantastic global CV books where I can do a quick search and come up with a list of candidates. Those profiles that are 100% complete and keyword rich, those are the ones that I’ll pick up first.

It’s critical for students to understand that LinkedIn is a go-to place for most recruiters. You cannot afford to ignore it. It’s just as if not more important that your CV because you’ll get a limited number of eyeballs on your CV, but you’ll reach recruiters internationally through LinkedIn. Even if it’s just transferring your CV that has been vetted by career services to LinkedIn, then you’re doing well.

The last bucket is this big black hole – it’s the candidate we might get to if we haven’t already found the star in our first and second buckets. But you know what? I probably have so I won’t look at that third bucket. So you can see why it’s a waste of time applying to job board jobs. It’s worth looking at them to see which companies are hiring and looking for your skills. But then, be savvy and network with those companies and professionals and get referred in.  That’s what you call a job search, not applying online.

What sectors and regions are hot right now for hiring MBA candidates?

Asia, Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe are really hungry and really do value MBA talent. Germany, in particular, has been hiring a lot in tech, and there are a lot of startups there as well.

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