For 2013 MBA grads, employment prospects are looking up.
According to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), 76% of employers plan to hire MBA grads, up from 69% in 2012. What’s more, of employers planning to hire MBAs in 2013, 56% plan to offer starting base salaries that keep pace with inflation (43%) or exceed it (13%).
Investing time, money and hard work into a higher degree can pay off in the long run, especially when employers are seeking out resumes showcasing analytical abilities and leadership qualities, says Scott Shrum, Director of MBA Admissions Research at Veritas Prep.
“Business school admissions departments screen for these abilities, and then devote two years to training the candidates and building on these strengths (and shoring up weaknesses), making job recruiters’ jobs much easier,” he says. “When a recruiter goes to campus to interview MBAs, he can assume that he’s drawing from a pretty talented pool of potential hires.”
But the labor market is still recovering after the 2008 financial crisis and no one is guaranteed an easy search. Here’s what experts say MBA grads on the job hunt need to know and how to increase their chances of being hired.
Tip No.1: Showcase Your Skills and Education
Earning a graduate degree is a major accomplishment, but employers still need to see specific examples of skills and experience with managing strategy and leadership capabilities in an applicant’s resume and in the interview process.
“The more that you can highlight previous experiences and help the company envision how you will be an asset on day one, the more successful you will be,” says Shrum. “An MBA helps to highlight your strengths and fill in some knowledge gaps, but there is never a substitute for great, relevant work experience and a track record of professional success.”
MBA students should keep records of their activities while in school and quote actual results from their experience on their resume to convey their qualities, abilities and background, suggests Douglas Brown, academic program manager for the MBA program offered by The Malcolm Baldrige School of Business at Post University.
“They should ask themselves how the experience(s) in the program will translate to work and capture those thoughts in notes they can refer to when preparing their resumes and interviewing.”
Tip No.2: Use Alumni Resources
Networking connections with alumni is one of the most valuable resources MBA grads can use to locate job opportunities in their industry.
Connecting in-person and online through alumni associations and professional networking sites can help grads develop and foster relationships throughout their job search, explains Shrum.
“If there is a certain job or company you’re targeting, start there and see what you can learn from an alum at the company,” he says. “Even though most inquiries will not result in a job, you will learn a lot and build up your network in the process.”
Students can also benefit from going on frequent informational interviews with alumni or other contacts in the industry to hone interview skills and create a lasting positive impression, says Eric Bahn, founder of Beat The GMAT and director of Product Management at Hobsons.
“The worst thing you can do is simply submit your resume along with thousands of others on a corporate website,” he says. “Job recruitment is most effective with someone introducing you to the right decision maker within the company and for that to happen, you need to build your network.”
Tip No.3: Stay Current
Employers expect MBA grads to be thoroughly committed to keeping up with current industry news and relevant topics to the positions they’re seeking out, say the experts.
To stay on top of trending topics and apprised of any events or alerts, Bahn recommends students follow specific industry keywords on Twitter or set up custom streams from industry press to phone news apps like Pulse.
Researching and doing their homework on the target company and its competitors can really showcase a graduate’s skills and judgment, says Brown.
“This research also allows MBA grads to spot trends and find opportunities before they are posted on job boards,” he says. “For example, a company winning a big contract or opening a new location typically leads to hiring, and the MBA grads that spot this early have a chance to reach hiring managers directly while they are still thinking about their hiring needs.”