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Career in MBA

 

Choosing a job

When, Where and What?

There are two general things to think about at this stage your career path and the next job. Before you decide which job or jobs to apply for, you should have given some thought to your career path. There is a special section on this in these advice pages. We suggest that you look there now or soon.

For what follows here we assume that you now have decided what type of job in what type of organisation will fit your career intentions. The issues for you now are to do with specifics in particular when? where? and what?

When to apply?

Put your details on this site as soon as you can - and get some control over your job seeking process and schedule.
However if you are near the start of an MBA program don’t start applying for specific jobs straight away.

Few organizations will offer you a job to take up at a much later date so apply when you are well into your MBA program.
If your School organizes recruitment ‘fairs’ then find out when recruiters from organizations will be visiting your School and make sure you apply for any specific jobs that you are interested in before these begin.
As a general rule the end of your program should be ‘in sight’ before you start applying - as organizations will want to know how your have been getting on with your program- eg your average grades etc and they may want to get references on you from the School so you need to have been there long enough for people to have got to know you. Generally - 6 months form the end of your program is about the right time to start applying.

TIPS -
  • Watch what the others are doing, and apply around the same time - not later.
  • Try to avoid getting into a situation in which you have to prepare for and attend interviews when you want to be concentrating on exams etc You know what your deadlines and critical times are external organizations don’t!.
  • Be prepared for time consuming processes. Possible employers may expect you to meet with them lots of times so try not to get involved at times which do not suit you

Where to apply?

You need to research the organizations that are potentially of interest to you. Not only is this necessary at this stage but it is essential also in preparation for any applications and subsequent interviews.

Start this process early - there will be lots of other things that you need to do later.

Look at the organizations on this site. Use this as your starting point - because these are the organizations that are interested in people like you. Also look at local/national papers and business magazines to find organizations that might be of interest to you - not only the ones that are advertising for staff - but also those with general advertisements.

Now do your research.

Your potential sources of information include the following-

  • The Organization’s Web page for the ‘official’ info.
  • Your Library check the business directories, on-line and CD ROM databases for company information and search the on-line newspapers, business journals and abstract services for references to the organization.
  • The Organization - if you are really serious about an organization and need more info after you have done the above - call them and ask (eg for catalogues, annual reports, etc)
  • The Alumni of your School - if there is a database or directory you may find some people who do or have worked for the organization. Contact them and ask them questions (They will probably be pleased that you have found them)
Some of the things you may be aiming to find out during this search - of value in making your choice as well as in preparation for any interview may include -

Location(s).
Ownership.
Size.
Growth and profitability record- eg in comparison to their business sector.
Background of senior staff - eg do they have an MBA and where from?.
Human Resource policy/practices - eg any management development programs.

TIPS -
  • Don’t confine your interest to those organizations that are currently advertising jobs of the type that might interest you. Cast you net widely at this stage. Not all the good jobs are advertised
  • Don’t rely solely on the organization’s own information- or only on factual information eg from annual reports. Get inside info, comments and judgements from press reports. (It’s the snippets and the up-to-date info that will impress if you go for interview)
  • Use your networks - ask around
  • Make notes - create a dossier on each organizations - they may be useful later - eg at an interview
  • Pool/share information with other people on your program. (This is not yet a competitive situation)
  • Get negative info as well as positive stuff - you are most likely to get it from press /journal coverage - it will be of value to you in any interview
  • Also collect information - as above - about the sector in which each organization works - eg activities of main competitors , etc

What to apply for?

Often you will have to decide what job, or what type of job, to apply for in the organization you have chosen. However, if you have little or no work experience this may not be the case - an organization will probably consider taking you on to give you some initial training etc before they or you decide in what part of the organization to work. So you can skip this stage.
If you have a choice to make - we are back to considerations of your career path. In thinking about your career you will have assessed your strengths and weaknesses.
You will want to be able to use your strengths in the job - but will know that you are unlikely to develop your career unless you also have the opportunity to learn new skills -and perhaps rectify some weaknesses. So your choice of what to apply for will be influenced by your desire to strike a balance between familiarity and challenge. You will also be wanting to ensure some ‘linear’ direction to your career - so unless you have been totally unhappy with any earlier job, or unless you have chosen to take an MBA in order to change the direction of your career - your new job choice will be intended to move you forward.

Tips –


  • Aim high – not low. An organization may offer you a job slightly below what you applied for – but will rarely offer you one above.
  • Have a good reason to apply for the job- if your are interviewed you will be asked this question
  • Know what the job will do for you as well as what you can bring to the job
  • Know what the job involves – if necessary ask
  • Find our whether it is a new job or has been/is currently being done by someone else. If the former, why? If the latter where is the person going – up?
  • Talk to people who have done this type of job before (alumni, faculty?)– and get an inside view

Your Resume / CV

Your Resume or Curriculum Vitae will be the most important document you will prepare in your search for a job – it’s worth spending some time to get it right.

Here are some general guidelines – then some specific tips

Guidelines-

Write, or at least tailor it, for a specific job if possible.

Do a draft then develop it. Show it to people and ask them what it says about you and how clearly it says it.

Start early – well before the time to make applications. (Your CV will not change very much during your program – excepting that you may wish to list any electives you decide to take in your program, and you will have lots of things that must be done later).

Make it a good looking document – check all spelling, grammar, syntax, layout etc. and do not use fancy designs, clipart or humour.

Tell it ‘like it is’ – don’t exaggerate, lie or conceal anything, and don’t be vague.

The more senior the position that you are applying for – the more details you will be expected to provide.

Follow any specific instructions – don’t send standard CVs.

Write it yourself- don’t get someone else to do it for you.

Always send your Resume/CV with a covering letter – and be clear about the purpose of each ( see section on Covering Letters).

Give basic details of your last salary – only if recent and relevant.

Tips writing your resume-

  • In a CV for a specific job – use language that they will recognise (look at their Web page – look for key phrases – eg ‘adding value’ and use them sparingly in your Resume/CV).
  • Start with an Objectives section, ie what job or type of job you seek, then:
  • Put it in chronological order - most recent things first.
  • Be concise and precise.
  • Keep sections/paragraphs short.
  • Focus on the company's needs - not yours. Say what you can contribute.
  • Identify your achievements - focus on results, not responsibilities.
  • Give specific examples - eg managed project X over Y months to achieve Z.
  • Don’t use ‘I’.
  • If possible - put the key points at the beginning of a section.
  • Send a top copy – not a photocopy.
  • Differentiate yourself - don't fold and post your resume - send it in a bigger envelope.
  • Don’t list referees unless you have been asked for them.
  • Make it action oriented – ie what you ‘managed’, ‘developed’ etc.
  • Keep biographical/personal details to a minimum.

Electronic Resumes/CVs.

Some organizations will allow you to send Resumes/CVs electronically. Always check before you do so.

Guidelines-

Send your Covering letter electronically also.

Put both the Covering letter and the Resume as a single document.

Don’t send either as attachments – they may never be opened.

Send a hard copy of both as follow up.

Tips-

  • Use a standard word processing application, and don’t use complex formatting.
  • Make the maximum line length 65 characters, inclusive of spaces.
  • Send your document to yourself or someone else first, to see that it arrives and looks OK.
  • Save a copy.
  • Try extra hard to put the strong points first – readers are less likely to scroll down than to flip pages.
  • Run a spell check but don’t rely totally on it – it wont find correctly spelt but wrongly used words.

Faxes

Never send your Resume/CV or letter by fax - unless you are specifically asked to do so.

The Interview

This is the ‘make or break’ stage. Its also the most demanding and potentially the most difficult.

There are three stages – Preparation, Performance and Follow up.

Preparation

Guidelines-

You must research the organization, the job and if possible the person who will interview you.

You should also research the industry/sector in which then organization operates.

You should practice before the interview.

Tips for an interview-

  1. Do your research on the organization as you did when you were considering where to apply - but do much more and do some of it again – things will have changed. Update you file/dossier.
  2. Get both objective and subjective information.
  3. Get up-to-date information – eg from the press. Read the main sources of info right up to the time you have the interview ( up to date ‘snippets’ will impress at the interview).
  4. Get a friend to simulate the interview with you before you go – ie to ask you some questions ( see below).
  5. Set yourself some goals for the interview – eg some key points you want to get across.
  6. Re read your Covering letter and Resume before, and take them with you.

Some questions to be prepared for:

  1. What are you reading at present?
    (Say you have read XX books on your Program. Say what papers/journals you read regularly. Say that for leisure – when you have time – you read ‘whatever’). Where do you want to be in X years?
    (Be ambitious but realistic. Refer to continual development. Don’t give the impressions that you will be difficult to satisfy/handle/manage).
  2. What are your strengths?
    (Don’t be vague. Link your strengths to your achievements. If necessary refer to generic things such as energy, commitment, ambition, resilience, determination, adaptability – but don’t produce a long list).
  3. What are your weaknesses?
    (Have some minor ones to refer to – but do not bare your soul. Don’t go into detail unless you a have to. Don’t elaborate. Make sure the weaknesses will not be seen as disadvantages in the job. Be prepared for the questions - how important are they and what are you going to do about them? Say its important that people recognise their weaknesses – then they can do something about them. Say you will expect to continue to develop and learn from your experiences. Don’t give the impression that you will want to go on lots of courses).
  4. Why do you want this job?
    (Refer to what you think you can achieve - and what it can do for you).
  5. Why should we hire you?
    (Say that the only reason you want them to hire you is that they believe you are the best person for the job).
  6. Give me three recent major achievements
    (Have this answer ready – but give the impression of having to think back – then give the examples. Be specific – say what you achieved and in what circumstances and with what obstacles. Say why you were pleased with what you did).
  7. What is your management style?
    (It probably does not matter what your style is – providing you have one. The question is probably to see what you know about yourself. Don’t use jargon. Don’t quote text books. If you feel that the organization has a particular style/culture – describe yourself in a way that will fit. Use general terms - eg your openness, energy etc. Avoid phrases like ‘lead from the front’. Don’t describe yourself in an inappropriate way. For example if you are in for a middle management job – don’t refer to your strategic thinking.).
  8. What do you know about this organization?
    (Tell them you have done your research – point to your file/dossier).
  9. What do you look for when you hire people?
    (If you have experience of this refer to specific situations . Make the point that different types of people do well in different types of role. Don’t give the impression that you only value people like yourself. Refer to generic things – ambition, energy, commitment, flexibility ).
  10. How would someone you know describe you?
    (Again mention some of the characteristics you have used to describe yourself before but add two or three personal things – eg – sense of humour, supportiveness etc).
  11. How do you spend your spare time?
    (If you are currently doing an MBA – say you have no spare time. If you would normally do any of the following- mention them – sport or other things to keep you fit, Culture, community work ).
  12. What makes a job enjoyable for you?
    (Refer to evident achievement, personal development, the people you work/interact with and being associated with a respected an successful organiszation).
  13. Why are you doing/did you do an MBA?
    (Speak briefly about the need for challenge, the benefits of working with different people, the importance of a rigorous approach, personal development etc. Don’t give the impression that the MBA gives you answers – but rather that it develops your confidence etc).

Performance

Guidelines-

You should be yourself in the interview – don’t pretend, don’t try to be someone different.

You should try to be relaxed – but not casual.

Tips-

  1. Dress smart and formal.
  2. Be spontaneous – don’t try to have scripted answers.
  3. Try not to appear nervous or shy – remember – if you have got this far the organization is interested in you.
  4. Be the first to say ‘hello’ when you go in.
  5. Take you file/dossier – don’t spread it out on the desk but let it be seen.
  6. Don’t be presumptious – Don’t refer to ‘we’ as if you were a part of the organization already.
  7. If given the opportunity to ask questions – ask one at most. Make it simple and have it ready. Don’t pull out a long list.
  8. Watch for non verbal cues, make eye contact, lean forward, look interested, be enthusiastic.
  9. Ask for clarification of any question you do not understand.
  10. Don’t be critical of a previous employer or person.

Salary Questions-

Don’t get into a lengthy discussion about money. Attempt to postpone a discussion on salary till a later stage – ‘when you would have a better understanding of the requirements of the job’ etc. If necessary -ask what the normal/expected salary range is for the job.

However – be clear about your previous salary and have a salary range in mind for this job – eg ‘ I believe that the normal salary range for the type of job I understand to be available would be -----‘

Follow up

Always follow up the interview irrespective of how it ended. Write to/Email the person who interviewed you within 24 hours (letter) or 48 hours (E mail). Try to choose the method of communication to suit the company- (use E mail if they have E mailed you or if they have given you an E mail address). Be sure to have the right name and job title.

Tips-

  • Be brief and polite.
  • Don’t appear ‘pushy’ or impatient.
  • Thank them for the interview.
  • Don’t send multiple , identical notes – if you were interviewed by more than one person – send one to the person who was in charge.
  • If you were not rejected on the day – say that you will be happy to provide any further information that might be required.


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