An MBA Christmas: The Holiday Job Hunt

An MBA Christmas: The Holiday Job Hunt

BusinessWeek via Yellowbrix

The holiday break is the perfect time to gain an edge on the competition if you’re an MBA student searching for an internship or full-time job. “The worst thing anyone can do is just sit back at this stage,” says Jackie Wilbur, director of career development at the MIT Sloan School of Management (MIT Sloan Full-Time MBA Profile). Although some career placement directors at top business schools are reporting—at least anecdotally—that the traditional fall recruiting season for full-time jobs went as well as they expected, there are still students looking for work. Some job-seekers have the economy to blame, while others are looking for nontraditional positions, which aren’t always found through on-campus recruiting.

While there are glimmers of hope about the economy, certainly more than there were last year, unemployment remains in the double digits. Indeed, experts are saying that today’s job-hunters need to take a different, more aggressive approach. “There aren’t enough jobs in the country for all the people who need them,” says Jay Block, author of 101 Best Ways to Land a Job in Troubled Times (McGraw-Hill, 2009). “But those who write a slam-dunk résumé and communicate their value to potential employers will get them.” Still, finding a job—even for a future MBA from a top business school—is not as easy as it sounds. Here, however, are tips on how to spend your holiday break from school earning the best holiday gift of all: a job.

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Block says that in the more than 20 years he has worked as a career coach, no client has ever taken the time to write an extensive, full-fledged plan for a job search. Block isn’t talking about scribbling some notes as an afterthought on your daily to-do list. He wants people to take a pen and paper and give thought to exactly how much time they will spend on job hunting each day and what tasks will lead them to finding work. He wants them to conduct research and create calendars that feature interviews (informational and hiring), seminars, networking, and job conferences.

Of course, you should keep looking for job opportunities throughout the holiday season—and you must consider that part of your official plan. Before you even leave campus, you should meet with a career counselor at your business school and ask about reciprocity programs. If you’re planning on heading home for the holidays, you might be able to use the job-search tools and career services offices of the university in your hometown. Some universities have “reciprocity” agreements that allow students from one school to use the career services of another. You need to speak with a career representative from your school, who can find out if it has any reciprocity agreements with schools near your hometown, says Wendy Tsung, associate dean and executive director of the MBA Career Management Center at Emory’s Goizueta Business School (Goizueta Full-Time MBA Profile).

Spread good cheer.

Block says 75% to 80% of jobs are filled through networking—someone knew someone who knew someone who was a perfect fit for the available position. Networking is vital to finding a job, yet most people never make networking a formal part of their job search. Truly, you are networking all the time—from the friends you’re making in class to the guy you met on the airplane last week. But you need to redefine networking and be more tactical about meeting people for it to help you in your job search.