Sarah Rumbaugh went into business school at Darden and came out a matchmaker: between MBA students and recruiters. Rumbaugh and her fellow Darden MBA 2015 graduate Zach Mayo today launched RelishMBA, an online service aiming to transform the way MBA students connect with employers – to the benefit of both.
“It’s almost like Match.com or eHarmony,” Rumbaugh says. “Our mission is really to streamline this hectic, long and complex marketing and sales process called MBA recruiting.”
Rumbaugh, 27, likens recruiting to “an eight-month courtship,” but for MBA students this is a relationship characterized not by candle-lit dinners and snuggling on the couch, but by marathon company-research sessions and furious, incessant networking.
“The recruiting starts even before the MBA program starts,” Rumbaugh says.“Once you’re in your MBA, you really are spending just as much time recruiting as you are on your academics.
“It’s not that top MBAs won’t get hired. They will. Top MBAs will get a good job. Placement is very high at the top schools. The problem is a lot of money is spent, it’s very time consuming, it’s crowded and competitive and inefficient.”
A ‘MATCHING ALGORITHM’ TO FIND THE BEST FIT
RelishMBA lets students and employers build profiles, search using filters, and arrange dates to get to know each other better.
“Plus,” says Rumbaugh, “we have a matching algorithm, recommending the best fit options.”
MBA candidates can use the dashboard-based service for free, regardless of whether their school has signed on, and fees from participating employers will provide the revenue, Rumbaugh says.
Outgoing Darden Dean Bob Bruner says he has only basic familiarity with the MBAs’ startup, but in general, “there remain enormous opportunities to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of MBA recruiting. It is yet today a matchmaking process and it’s extraordinarily expensive for the companies who recruit MBAs.”
RECRUITING ALWAYS HAS AN ELEMENT OF SURPRISE: DARDEN DEAN
Darden goes to great lengths to facilitate recruiting, but the process leaves a major gap, Bruner says. “We make available interviewing systems, and visits, and facilities. We have opportunities to make known to recruiters our talent base in each graduating class. And yet so much of what constitutes a very good fit is discovered at the personal level, and there’s always an element of surprise for the recruiters and the students themselves.
“Improvements in transparency and connectivity will definitely improve the functioning of the recruitment system . . . not merely in the reduction in cost but in the effectiveness, the improvement in the matches themselves.”
Rumbaugh, RelishMBA’s CEO, and Mayo, the COO, are targeting about 25 schools, and using student clubs and school careers offices to bring schools on board. They’re going to conferences, and will sit on a panel this week at the Forte MBA Women’s Leadership Conference at the Georgetown McDonough School of Business.
RelishMBA is intended to broaden choices for both students and employers, providing an information-sharing platform between MBA candidates and companies that don’t recruit on campus, including startups, as well as companies that do.
As with online dating services, potential mates – MBA students and employers – post profiles on the website, and use their dashboard to manage their recruiting process. Employers can provide across-the-board content to students from many MBA programs, and also customize their brand to specific schools. While major employers pay annual fees, startups and non-profits will get an initial free pass, but pay a fee for hiring an MBA via the service. “We won’t start approaching potential startup company customers until closer to the end of the summer because they operate on a later timeline in the MBA recruiting process,” Rumbaugh says.
LINKEDIN DATA CAN BE TRANSFERRED TO RELISHMBA PROFILE
MBA candidates can flow their LinkedIn data into their profile, then use the dashboard to organize all their recruiting activities, access their schools’ recruitment-related information and tools, and track their interactions with recruiters and alumni. Students can pull up employers’ profiles via filtered searches that identify appropriate job-search targets by industry, roles available, company size, types of position available (such as full-time, and internships), recruiting presence (on or off campus), and location. They can access company briefings in advance of recruiter visits to campus. They can “follow” companies and receive notifications.