This is the time of year when newly graduated MBAs are joining the workforce for their first jobs. A few unlucky ones missed out on getting plugged into professional careers and they’re now panicking, trying to find any job at all.
As I teach at a Business School, students frequently approach me for help. Some seeking to land their first job and others seeking to land their second job even before they’ve started the first!!
So what’s my advice?
To begin, I try to understand what they are looking for. It may seem strange but many of these job seekers are often not clear what they really want. This could cover industry preference, type of work such as Sales, Marketing, etc. and even companies they would be keen to work for. Narrowing down these choices can setup a more targeted effort to establish the right connection.
Next, I ask them who else they have been in touch with and surprisingly it’s sometimes only me. Now I could feel honored in a foolish way, but that’s not the point of the exercise.
Finding a job is similar to advertising. How many brands do you know of who released only one advertisement in their illustrious lifetimes? The best and most successful brands are constantly out there, telling and re-telling their story. The same rule applies in a job hunt.
You have to go wide and deep. Anyone who potentially could be of help should know that you’re on the lookout.
To maximize the odds of finding that job you’ve dreamt about, start with all those you know who are currently working in companies you fancy. Nothing like an insider pushing your resume to the right people. When connecting with your “friends”, pick up the phone. Forget email, just dial directly. If your friends are busy, they will call you back. To make sure of that, follow up an unanswered call with a WhatsApp message. Don’t assume they are ignoring you; they’re probably just trying to avoid those countless telecom and insurance sellers who have a knack of calling during an all important meeting or presentation.
Then there are alumni from your B. School who have the best chance of pitching your case. So many alumni feel disconnected from their alma mater as time and life roll along. A call from you often brings back a flood of emotions and memories of happy times. The alumni network can be a powerful source of connections that will always be there for you, much like family.
One general watch out – Strictly avoid calling obsessively if your contact has gone silent. Don’t treat this as a rejection of YOU. They likely have not found a way to set things up for you, and are now feeling awkward to admit they couldn’t come through. Remember, if one contact dries up, there will be others who can help.
Don’t underestimate the value of LinkedIn as a platform for prospective employers to connect with you. Many jobs are advertised on LinkedIn but I’ve found that lots of job seekers hesitate to apply, fearing the adverse odds. Well, every time you skip an application, you’re improving the odds for someone else. Don’t give it away on a platter. Apply, apply, apply. The worst thing that could happen is you won’t make the cut. Now, on the other hand if you get to the short list…
Finally, after all your efforts lead to an interview, the real work begins. An interview call is not a guarantee of an offer. It’s just evidence of the good will of your “friend” or “connection”. You need to prepare like an elite sportsperson. That would include but not be limited to learning about the company business and strategic challenges, recent results, product portfolio, financial highlights, competition, key people and so on. When you are inside that 30-minute window of destiny, talk about the firm’s business issues and opportunities as though you are already working there. The interview panel should actually feel like you are an employee and not a candidate. That’s what interview prep can do for you.
A last word, don’t ask when you can expect to hear from them. If they want you, they’ll call you. If not, then no amount of headstand or downward facing dog will improve your odds. You will survive this and live to fight another day. We all do.