Should You Wait For The Perfect Job?

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“He who hesitates is lost.” –  Joseph Addison

“The early bird gets the worm.” –  Proverb

“If you ain’t first, you’re last.” – Ricky Bobby (Talladega Nights)

Those sentiments permeate business lore. It doesn’t matter if your solution isn’t the best (or even finished). Just get it to market and stake your claim.

After the market crash, a similar philosophy was adopted by MBA graduates: In musical chairs, you don’t want to be the guy standing when the music stops.

Boy, have times changed! This week, The Wall Street Journal’s Melissa Korn examined an emerging phenomenon: MBAs playing the field. No, they’re no longer snagging six-figure consulting gigs before Christmas break. Instead, they’re holding back, weighing their options, and looking for the perfect fit. Like so many Gen-Ys, they’re seeking satisfaction over security. And they’re not worrying about waiting too long and ending up jobless.

Sounds almost counterintuitive in this do-more-with-less economy, where employers subtly remind their people, “You’re lucky to have a job.” These days, most employees play it safe, sticking with employers they loathe for a steady paycheck. They know how unforgiving the job market can be, as employment gaps are equated with personal or professional deficiencies.

MBAs, often the first adopters, are seemingly re-writing the rules. In reality, they’re simply embracing the new realities of work. Traditionally, an MBA was viewed as a striver, looking for a cozy white-shoe gig. But now, many are developing an entrepreneurial bent. As a result, according to Korn, they’re “flock(ing) to technology firms and startups, which typically can’t predict staffing needs too far in advance and so tend to hire closer to graduation than do finance and consulting companies.”

job fit puzzle In fact, students’ FOBU (Fear of Being Unemployment) has been replaced by FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). As Maeve Richard, head of the career management center at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, tells Korn, there is now greater pressure on students to “explore a new passion, experiment in entrepreneurship or work for a startup.”

By waiting, MBA students are also exhibiting greater confidence in themselves (and optimism toward the future). Ellen Cory, a second-year at Tuck, shared with Korn that she has already rebuffed several offers. “I’m not nervous. I’m not behind for the type of position I’m trying to get. I’ve seen classmates get a lot of great jobs. And I have confidence that I will be able to find a job that satisfies me.”

And Cory isn’t alone. Jennifer Bridge, who oversees recruiting at the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley, revealed that only 74% of 2013 graduates who’d received job offers at graduation had accepted them. “The current student population is definitely willing to wait for the right opportunity,” she says. As a result, many recruiters are making offers later in the cycle.

Behind it all is that universal desire for personal happiness. According to a study conducted by the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, 2013 graduates who landed jobs after graduation were happier than those who accepted them before graduation.

Even if waiting for the perfect job is risky, previous MBA grads grudgingly accept that new MBAs can be more selective. Steffen Gnegel graduated from Stanford before the economic collapse. Back then, he tells Korn that his peers were “more worried about securing employment—any employment.” In recognition of the recovery and skyrocketing growth in Silicon Valley, he shrugs, “I guess they know they can afford to hold out for the right fit.”

What are your thoughts? Is waiting for the right job a shrewd strategy – or just brazen and foolish?

Source: Wall Street Journal