Five Tips for Success in Your MBA Career Search

LaTanya Johns, Director of the Graduate Career Service Center

The job market looks strong for MBA graduates, with many business schools reporting some of the best placement records in their histories. According to Forbes, the GMAC 2013 Corporate Recruiters Survey found that more companies are hiring recent MBAs than in years past (75 percent up from 71 percent in 2012) and that those companies are hiring more MBAs (an average of 14.6 MBA hires per company up from 11.4 the year before). 91 percent of TCU MBAs in the class of 2013 secured employment within 90 days of graduation.

Though the forecast is bright for MBA grads, getting a job post graduation isn’t necessarily a given. The Neeley School of Business offers students top-notch support and resources to make finding a job as painless as possible. LaTanya Johns, Director of the Graduate Career Service Center (GCSC), offers MBA students these five tips for a successful MBA career search.

Frequent your campus career service center. The staff at the GCSC is experienced in all areas of job searching. Make early connections with staff members, as they will be your advocates for the next two years. Neeley’s career service center has the latest online tools students need in their employment hunt. In addition to our resources and tools, our career center staff has forged strong relationships with local, national and global employers targeting interns and grads to fill full-time positions.

Identify and articulate your career goals early. Neeley students are offered one-on-one coaching with career services staff to help determine their career goals. Start this process before you enter your MBA program. Our staff will help you discover how you can maximize your individual strengths, including your background, experience, relevant transferable skills and motivation for a career change. When you are interviewing with an employer, you should be able to articulate you career goals, but many students haven’t developed their pitch or reflected on what they want to do based on previous professional experience. It is the goal of the Neeley staff for all students to be able to express their career goals clearly.

Research companies, positions, industries and geographic regions. Doing your research helps ensure the goals you set for yourself are realistic. Employers frequently comment on how students go to an interview well prepared on everything except having a thorough knowledge of the company’s culture, the industry or the geographic region. Competition is fierce, and employers are not impressed when it is evident a student hasn’t taken the time to do their homework. Neeley students have several research tools at their disposal to prevent against showing up to an interview unprepared. Neeley discourages students from applying for any and every job out there without being sure it’s a good match. Job seekers should only apply for a job when they’ve done their research and are confident the company culture is in line with their values, is in their geographic region of interest and believe the job will help them reach their long-term goals.

Practice, practice, practice. Throughout your entire MBA experience, continually rehearse your 30-second elevator pitch. This is how you will introduce yourself to others as an individual and as a professional. Being well prepared comes from practicing. At Neeley, we bring in employers and industry experts to help students prep for interviews through one-on-one mock interviews, case studies and elevator pitch practice. Every week, we host three to five events giving students multiple opportunities to practice presenting themselves to employers. We expect our students to show up to these events and polish their presentation and conduct themselves in a manner that speaks to their professionalism. Regular practice will ensure you are never caught off guard.

Build relationships that matter. The term “networking” has become cliché. We tell our students to be intentional and strategic about relationship building. Attending an event with alumni, recruiters and hiring managers from a target industry is a great way for students to expand their network, and we host several of these events to aid our students in building meaningful connections. In addition to face-to-face networking, students should maintain a professional digital footprint on social networks such as LinkedIn and Facebook. Relationships matter, and employers are more likely to hire someone based on a referral than an online job application. Who you know and how you connect with people is key.

Though the job market is promising for MBA grads, competition for specific positions is strong. Diligence, hard work and plenty of preparation will pay off in your job search, and Neeley is here to help.
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