By Gretchen Shaw
So you’re fresh out of college and eager to attack the world armed with your new MBA?
It’s a hot market, with 92% of US companies planning to hire MBA graduates in the next year, according to GMAC’s 2015 corporate recruiters survey. And while having an MBA is an important step in starting your career, it’s just a launch pad – the real work is in the skills and attitude you bring to the workplace.
Here’s what a selection of corporate employers, headhunters and recruitment specialists see as relevant in an MBA graduate, and how MBA graduates can best prepare themselves to find their dream job in the real world.
1. Attitude is still the most important factor
Mickey Matthews, chairman of executive search firm Stanton Chase, sees the primary differentiating factor between successful and unsuccessful candidates as “an engaging, team-orientated, and collaborative personality.” For Mickey, graduates needed to show not only the technical attributes expected of them, but a positive persona that allows them to “thrive in interactions with clients and fellow employees.”
Cherie Jaillet, recruitment guru from Your Brand New Job, agrees. “Many recruiters find some MBA graduates believing they have all the answers and should be sitting behind the chairman’s desk two months after they’re hired. It’s important to stay humble and show a willingness to learn and develop further," she says.
2. Offer Something Different
With many employers viewing an MBA as a homogeneous qualification it’s important to bring something different to the table that adds value. Would-be employers are increasingly seeking diversity in unique skills, particularly where they combine traditional attributes with online skills. Zubia Hawcroft, director of MSC Headhunters, feels that the ability to market and create online sales is a significant add-on ability for any recruit. “Many clients have to rely on an outside agency, so if a candidate is able to do the task internally then they would be preferable,” she says. Mickey Matthews takes it further: “Employers are seeking well-rounded people who can bring something special that no one else possesses.”
3. Build Your Experience
Continuing to learn is crucial, but developing a diversity of experience before and during studies can add to your resume and make you a much better prospect. Zubia is a firm believer in garnering outside experience, even unpaid work in the form of volunteering, an internship, or free consultancy work to build knowledge and skill sets further. “Even starting your own online business is seen as great experience in the eyes of many employers.” Mickey is a fan of performing community service or coaching on sports teams, as he believes it shows a willingness to be involved in leading outside of the workplace.
4. “One Size Fits All” Doesn’t Work
It’s critical to show your diversity and uniqueness by not standardizing your job applications when you send them in. Cherie highlights that many applicants often send a “click and send” cover letter to every employer and wonder why they don’t get an interview. “You have to read the job advertisement then tailor your application to what the employer is asking for – common sense but most people don’t do it,” she says. “The average recruiter spends just six seconds reviewing an application – you have a very small window to make a unique and tailored impression”. Nothing frustrated recruiters more than a copy and paste application.
5. Tidy Up Your Social Media Channels.
Both Cherie and Zubia emphasize the need to make sure your social media channels don’t reflect badly on you. Those big nights out during your student years might have great memories but are not what your prospective employer wants to see when researching you online – and most employers will check your social media profile.
6. Understand Big Data.
Data analytics are an increasing part of the game and a necessity that MBA recruiters are seeking. Some saw the lack of awareness of the role of big data as a distinct disadvantage, a viewpoint Mickey Matthews refutes. He believes that, although it is an area of increased demand, it hadn’t yet reached the point of being a necessity for graduates, provided they understood its growing importance.
As you search for your dream job, make sure that you take advantage of the career services at your school. For example, when I contacted the IMD, in Lausanne, Switzerland about their program they said that the IMD, “[annually] attracts around 9000 executives and 90 MBAs – a ratio of 100:1.” Other schools such as HEC Paris invite potential employers to give company presentations and participate in roundtable discussions. Become informed, and don’t miss out!
Now that you’ve graduated, the real work has just begun. Follow the advice of our recruitment experts above and you’ll go a long way to putting your resume at the top of the pile!
Gretchen is an author, blogger and entrepreneur with a penchant for baking. She is passionate about communication, continued learning and connecting people. You can follow her on Twitter: @shawgret