What You Need To Know About MBA Recruiting

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When I first received an admissions letter from my target MBA program, I was so excited to have been accepted that I did not give much thought to what I should be doing to prepare for school. A couple of weeks ago, we offered some suggestions for admitted students who wanted to start their own preparation; in this post, we’re focusing on the basics of MBA recruiting.

It’s important to keep in mind that your MBA experience will be unique to you, and your approach to business school will determine a great deal about your educational, professional, and social outcomes. Having said that, the below should provide a useful framework to begin thinking about recruiting, particularly as you begin your planning and start building your target list of firms this summer.

    1. You’ll (almost definitely) get an internship
      We’ll start with the good news. The 2015 global MBA hiring market was the best that it has ever been, according to research from GMAC and reporting from Poets&Quants – and 2016 might be even better. 84% of global firms in the GMAC survey reported plans to hire new MBA graduates in 2015, so you’ll have plenty of options to explore when you start your recruiting process. Where I received my MBA, At Darden, we called this set of circumstances a “firehose of opportunity,” and it comes with its own challenges. We’ll talk more about some of them later, but the biggest question facing you as you prepare to enter the MBA recruiting process is this: when most employers in the world want to hire you, how do you make sure you’re finding, targeting, and converting the best opportunities?

 

    1. Recruiting starts on your first day of business school (or even earlier)
      The process of finding those best-fit opportunities is complicated significantly by the timeline of graduate business school recruiting. For all intents and purposes, recruiting begins as soon as you arrive on campus, and certain industries and firms extend internship offers all the way through May. Even at schools with moratoriums on recruiting early in the first semester, students are well-advised to start the exploration and discovery process as early as possible. Consulting and investment banking tend to have the earliest timelines (and are the most competitive recruiting tracks) with resume drop deadlines in early December; roles with other large corporate recruiters – like general management, marketing, and corporate finance – are generally the next in line, with drop dates anywhere from December to March; and the late spring is when start-ups, nonprofits, and other nontraditional, just-in-time employers post their open positions.

 

    1. Time management will be a serious challenge
      Current MBA students and alumni are fond of talking about the tripartite obligations of business school: academics, social life, and recruiting (not to mention physical health and family). The amount of time a first year MBA student will dedicate to each of these pursuits will vary from week to week, but time itself will remain in short supply for most of your time in business school. And while class and socializing are both critical to a successful graduate business school experience, if you are like most of your classmates you’re getting your MBA primarily to advance your career opportunities (check out this GMAC survey for more info on why people go to business school). The easiest way to deal with this time crunch will be establishing reliable systems and processes for managing each of these obligations. This is especially important for recruiting, during which you’ll be networking with dozens of alumni and employees at your target firms, and will be expected to leverage this networking and data-gathering in an interview setting in a manner that makes you maximally attractive to potential employers. At RelishCareers, we designed our Company Relationship Management tools to help facilitate the tracking of these networking interactions during the recruiting process, but no worries if notepads or spreadsheets are more your thing; finding a tool that works best for you should be your priority.