MBA careers are associated with above-average salaries. The National Association of Colleges and Employers projects that 2019 MBA graduates will earn an average starting salary of $84,580 -- more than $25,000 higher than the average starting salary projection for graduates with a bachelor's degree in business administration. Industries associated with these higher earnings include consulting, finance, technology, and healthcare. Employment rates are also high for these degrees. The average employment rate for a 2018 MBA graduate three months after completing their studies was 84%.
This guide examines a variety of career opportunities for MBA graduates, such as roles related to accounting, marketing, human resources, and management. It also offers tips for finding a job and launching a successful career.
How to Use an MBA
MBA programs hone managerial and leadership skills while teaching students about financial investments, business risk analysis, communication, and group dynamics. Graduates can use these skills in a variety of MBA careers.
This page examines some of the most common sectors for MBA graduates. These MBA career paths come with different benefits and cater to diverse individuals.
What is a nonprofit organization?
Nonprofit organizations focus on helping communities through various means, such as charity, legal assistance, public healthcare, and educational improvements. These organizations use their earnings for community betterment rather than company revenue.
Why would this job appeal to an MBA grad?
These opportunities allow candidates to perform business administration tasks while helping others.
What are some examples of nonprofit jobs for an MBA grad?
Candidates can organize clothing drives, manage investment records, or analyze student data to determine positive educational changes. Graduates can also act as human resource specialists, fundraisers, or emergency management directors for nonprofit companies.
How would an MBA prepare a student for this job?
Nonprofit organizations must determine community needs and find ways to address problems. Nonprofits also create programs and organize community events. All of these tasks relate to the leadership skills that are honed in MBA programs.
Public Service and Helping Others
What is public service?
Providing services to the community, public service workers include police officers, firefighters, and paramedics. These employees may work for federal or state governments.
Why would this job appeal to an MBA grad?
MBA careers in public service allow graduates to use management, leadership, and organizational skills while helping their communities. These MBA careers also allow candidates to focus on an area of interest, such as law or healthcare.
What are some examples of public service jobs for an MBA grad?
Some public service careers require additional degrees, training, or certification, such as paramedic. However, MBA graduates can work in roles like emergency management director and social and community service manager without additional education.
How would an MBA prepare a student for this job?
These positions require the analytical, leadership, problem-solving, management, and research skills honed in an MBA program.
What does working for the government entail?
Government workers cater to local, state, and national needs. Examples include U.S. Postal Service workers, International Revenue Service employees, and Federal Bureau of Investigation agents. Federal employees also include administrative assistants, housing renovation workers, and clerical candidates at government facilities.
Why would this job appeal to an MBA grad?
Government jobs typically come with excellent benefits, such as insurance and consistent hours.
What are some examples of government jobs for an MBA grad?
MBA graduates can work as accountants, financial analysts, and program coordinators at government facilities.
How would an MBA prepare a student for this job?
These careers often require analytical thinking and an understanding of finance. Candidates frequently work in teams and tend to the organizational needs of companies. An MBA program develops these competencies.
Starting Your Own Quirky and Creative Company
What does starting a nontraditional company entail?
To start an official business, candidates should review registration, licensing, and certification requirements.
Why would this job appeal to an MBA grad?
This option provides ample flexibility since candidates can choose the field that most interests them. Individuals can make creative decisions and design business policies and schedules around their personal preferences.
What are some example companies an MBA grad could start?
MBA graduates can open bakeries, private investigation offices, photography studios, retail stores -- essentially any company that sells a product or service.
How would an MBA prepare a student for this job?
Business owners must tend to all company concerns, including finances, organizational structure, and employee management. MBA programs equip graduates to manage these tasks.
Make Your Mark on Wall Street or at a Big Corporation
What does working on Wall Street entail?
Wall Street careers often involve investments, brokerages, and stock exchanges. The settings for these MBA careers vary but include financial firms and large businesses.
Why would this job appeal to an MBA grad?
These careers are among the most lucrative for MBA graduates.
What are some examples of Wall Street or big corporation jobs for an MBA grad?
Candidates can work as chief risk officers who earn a median salary of more than $150,000, compliance officers who earn a median salary of over $68,000, or financial analysts who earn a median salary of over $85,000.
How would an MBA prepare a student for this job?
Wall Street employees must understand finance and risk analysis and possess critical thinking and communication skills. MBA programs prioritize these traits.
What Are Employers Looking For in an MBA Graduate?
Due to the comprehensive nature of MBA programs, graduates are equipped with a broad skill set applicable to diverse professional roles. According to the 2018 Corporate Recruiters Survey conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), which collected data from 1,066 companies worldwide, 81% of respondents planned to hire an MBA graduate that year.
The survey also reviewed the most sought after skills among employees with an MBA. The five most important skills, according to respondents, were communication, teamwork, technical, leadership, and managerial abilities. Additionally, the survey noted that employers in different global regions tend to prioritize certain skills over others. In the United States and Asia Pacific, for instance, employers emphasize communication and teamwork more than some other regions.
As the table illustrates below, recruiters hire MBA recipients to fill various roles at organizations, including positions in marketing, business development, finance, data analytics, and consulting.
Job Functions in Which Employers Plan to Place Recent MBA Graduates, 2018
|Job Function||Global||United States|
MBA Employment Outlook
MBA Graduate Employment Type
According to GMAC's 2018 Alumni Perspectives Survey, which collected data from nearly 11,000 business school graduates, roughly 79% of MBA graduates are employed at an organization and 10% are self-employed entrepreneurs. Recent graduates are more likely to find work in technology and products/services roles, while alumni who graduated earlier tend to work in fields like finance, accounting, and consulting.
According to alumni respondents, the median base salary for MBA graduates is $115,000; however, salary estimates are heavily influenced by an individual's specialization. Finance jobs, for instance, typically offer the highest salaries, while jobs in operations and logistics tend to pay the lowest.
Another common trend is that MBA holders tend to work for companies with a global presence. The survey found that 61% of business school graduates work for companies with locations in at least two countries. Company size is another key factor. Roughly one-third of business school graduates work for organizations with more than 25,000 employees, and nearly two-thirds are employed by organizations with more than 1,000 employees. Additionally, 29% of these graduates work for companies that are publicly traded, compared to the 13% who work for family-owned businesses and the 8% who work for startups.
In terms of career advancement, business school graduates can be divided into five main career stages: entry level, midlevel, senior, executive, and C-suite. As one might expect, job responsibilities tend to increase as employees advance into higher levels. For example, the GMAC survey found that, among entry-level employees, 28% managed a budget, 9% made hiring decisions, and 23% supervised employees. These percentages rose gradually for each successive level, with the vast majority of C-suite employees tackling these responsibilities.
Salary Opportunities for MBA Graduates
The salary of an MBA graduate depends on several factors, such as their industry, location, experience, and the specific type of MBA they earned.
The GMAT MBA salary calculator is a handy tool for determining potential earnings among different fields and levels of employment. According to the calculator, the median annual salary for MBA holders in all industries and employment levels is $125,000, although these earnings depend on factors like experience and industry.
For example, the calculator indicates that the median healthcare/pharma salary for C-suite employees is $195,000, while the starting salary for entry-level employees in healthcare/pharma is $65,000. Median annual salaries for each of the five employment levels in all industries are listed in the table below.
Explore MBA Career Perspectives
Careers for MBA Graduates in Accounting
- Senior Accountant
Senior accountants manage other accountants and keep their company's financial records organized and up to date. Attention to detail is imperative for these senior-level employees, as are math and organization skills. Most senior accountants hold a graduate degree in accounting and several years of experience as non-managerial accountants.
- Senior Auditor
Auditing is the branch of accounting that investigates organizations for mismanagement of funds. Senior auditors manage staff auditors and oversee the entire auditing process for different companies, including analyzing statements for errors, omissions, and other discrepancies. Most corporations prefer to hire senior auditors with a master's degree in accounting, business, or a related field.
- Financial Manager
Financial managers prepare financial reports, manage investments, and work with executives to develop short-term and long-term goals. They also study market reports to determine potential areas for expansion. Many employers hire financial managers with a master's degree in accounting or a related field, such as business administration or economics.
Careers for MBA Graduates in Finance
- Personal Financial Advisor
Personal financial advisors consult with individual clients about their investments, mortgages, taxes, and retirement/estate planning. Financial advisors tailor their advice based on individual circumstances. Advisors with a master's degree and certification are well-positioned for advancement opportunities.
- Senior Investment Associate
Senior investment associates sell investments, insurance, financial services, and financial tools. Most work for mutual funds, banks, or insurance service providers. Most of these associates must earn passing scores on the Series 6 and 7 exams offered by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Many employers prefer to hire candidates with a master's degree in finance.
- Senior Financial Analyst
Financial analysts consult with businesses and individuals regarding stocks, bonds, and other types of investments. Senior financial analysts manage analyst teams, delegate tasks, review financial reports, and deliver presentations to executive-level employees. A master's degree in finance or a related field is ideal for this career path.
Personal Financial Advisor$61,000 Career
Senior Investment Associate$72,000 Career
Senior Financial Analyst$79,000
Careers for MBA Graduates in Marketing
- Market Research Analyst
Market analysts use data from consumers, competing companies, and market activities to determine demand, pricing, and other factors that can help position their organization's goods and services in the marketplace. They also present their findings to organizational leaders and clients. Some market research analyst positions require a master's degree in fields like marketing research, sales and marketing, or business administration.
- Director of Sales and Marketing
The director of sales and marketing supervises all personnel in their company's sales, marketing, and public relations departments. They lead initiatives that improve their organization's overall sales and effectiveness in advertising and participate in staff recruitment, hiring, and training. A degree in fields like business, marketing, or communication is typically required for this position.
- Advertising Creative Director
Most creative directors in advertising work for ad agencies or other organizations that feature a strong advertising presence. They oversee and collaborate with employees in creative fields, such as graphic design and copywriting. A master's degree in advertising or a similar field is often required for this position.
Market Research Analyst$53,000 Career
Director of Sales and Marketing$83,000 Career
Advertising Creative Director$98,000
Careers for MBA Graduates in Economics
- Economic Analyst
Economic analysts use market data and research to provide forecasts and consultations to organizations, public agencies, or elected officials. They rely on datasets related to commodities, currency, labor costs, and other key economic factors to inform their work. A business education is often required for these positions.
Economists use data and research trends to understand how resources, goods, and services are produced and distributed. They perform qualitative and quantitative analyses to generate accurate results. These professionals apply their research in diverse fields, such as business, education, and healthcare. A master's degree is considered the minimum qualification for most economist positions.
- Senior Economist
Most senior economists work within the financial industry, developing policies and analyzing economic research on behalf of their organizations. They often collaborate with chief economists and personnel from other departments to create plans and set goals. Most employers seek senior economists who hold at least a master's degree in economics or a related field.
Careers for MBA Graduates in Technology
- Information Security Analyst
Information security analysts develop, coordinate, and implement various security measures to safeguard their company's computer and information systems. They usually assist with disaster recovery plans, which dictate how an organization should operate when its information security has been compromised. They also study new technology security tools and programs. Some employers prefer to hire information security analysts with an MBA in information systems.
- IT Manager
Also known as computer and information systems managers, IT managers oversee their company's technological operations and infrastructures, as well as the personnel who handle information security, network technology, and software development. They also implement protocols for data access throughout an organization. Many organizations prefer to hire IT managers with an MBA or other graduate degree.
- Project Manager, IT
Project managers supervise short- and long-term projects by ensuring they are carried out correctly, quickly, and efficiently. IT project managers work within their organization's technology divisions, and evaluate individual employees based on their performance during different project stages. A graduate degree in IT or computer science may be required for these positions.
Information Security Analyst$71,000 Career
IT Manager$87,000 Career
Project Manager, IT$87,000
Careers for MBA Graduates in Human Resources
- Human Resource Manager
HR managers oversee and direct their company's administrative functions. They often recruit and screen candidates, conduct new employee orientations, consult with top executives, and act as intermediaries between management and other employees. This position may require an MBA in human resources or a related field, such as business administration or labor relations.
- Human Resource Director
HR directors handle employee complaints and grievances while overseeing compensation and benefits, recruiting and hiring, and budgeting for HR operations. In addition, they evaluate various programs to ensure everything complies with organizational goals, professional standards, and legal regulations. A master's degree is often required for HR director positions.
- Manager, Compensation and Benefits
Compensation and benefits managers process payments, health plans, retirement plans, and investments for their employees. They may also help determine pay structures for different personnel. Some employers prefer to hire candidates with a master's in human resources.
Human Resource Manager$66,000 Career
Human Resource Director$87,000 Career
Manager, Compensation and Benefits$88,000
Careers in Supply Chain Management
- Logistics Analyst
These professionals study manufacturing, storage, and shipping processes to ensure their companies operate efficiently. They also implement changes to the supply chain to generate optimal results. Some larger organizations prefer candidates with a graduate degree in a field related to analysis and business management.
- Supply Chain Manager
Supply chain managers build communication between sales and customer service personnel, implement logistical policies for their organizations, and maintain an inventory that reflects current demands. They also consult with suppliers and perform analyses to ensure their company's contracts are cost effective. Supply chain managers generally need an undergraduate or graduate degree in a field like business administration, logistics, or sales.
- Director, Supply Chain Management
A director of supply chain management oversees all operations and processes related to their company's goods and services, including resource identification and acquisition, inventory management, pricing, and purchasing analysis. A master's in supply chain management is often required for this role.
Logistics Analyst$57,000 Career
Supply Chain Manager$82,000 Career
Director, Supply Chain Management$123,000
Careers for Executive MBA Graduates
- Chief Financial Officer
A CFO leads their company's accounting and financial divisions and all related personnel. They typically oversee purchasing and pricing, investments, account and debt management, and organizational transactions. Some employers -- particularly larger organizations -- prefer CFO candidates with an MBA.
- Chief Operating Officer
In most organizations, the COO is the second-highest ranking executive behind the CEO. They develop and implement company-wide standards and consult with midlevel managers and supervisors to ensure that personnel comply with company policies. Most COOs possess a strong background in business and management.
- Chief Executive Officer
A CEO oversees an entire organization. They are responsible for evaluating the job performance of other executives and making key business decisions. They typically hold the most responsibilities in a company. CEOs often need an MBA.
Chief Financial Officer$131,000 Career
Chief Operating Officer$142,000 Career
Chief Executive Officer$159,000
Careers for MBA Graduates in Environmental Management
- Sustainability Consultant
Sustainability consultants make an organization's operations more efficient and environmentally friendly, which can boost a company's revenue and reputation with the public. Some of these workers focus on the environmental impact of manufacturing and shipping processes by managing waste and minimizing energy consumption. Most sustainability consultants hold a degree in a field related to environmental management or business.
- Sustainability Manager
Sustainability managers optimize their organization's waste and energy consumption, improve efficiency, and implement sustainable operations. Some also serve as company representatives in partnerships with government agencies and non-government organizations. The job requires a blend of sales, marketing, and public relations skills.
- Sustainability Director
Sustainability directors create company policies and initiatives that promote efficient and environmentally friendly operations. Reducing an organization's energy consumption and environmental impact typically requires a significant financial investment, so directors must often work within a prescribed budget. Many employers prefer to hire sustainability directors with a master's degree.
Sustainability Consultant$64,000 Career
Sustainability Manager$72,000 Career
Careers for MBA Graduates in International Business
- International Sales Manager
International sales managers generally work for organizations that export goods and services to other countries. They monitor overseas deliveries and transactions and negotiate sales with international buyers and clients. Larger companies typically hire candidates with a master's in international business or international relations.
- Global Sourcing Manager
Global sourcing managers supervise personnel who source goods and materials overseas. They maintain close working relationships with vendors and suppliers around the world and communicate their organization's goals to ensure a seamless sourcing process. Global sourcing managers typically need an extensive business background and fluency in at least one foreign language.
- Global Marketing Manager
Global marketing managers work for multinational organizations in a variety of industries. They oversee a company's global marketing budget, facilitate overseas development, and maintain close relationships with international partners. At least five years of marketing experience and an MBA are often required for these positions.
International Sales Manager$77,000 Career
Global Sourcing Manager$96,000 Career
Global Marketing Manager$99,000
Careers for MBA Graduates in Risk Management and Acquisitions
- Risk Management Analyst
Risk management analysts evaluate various types of data to help their companies minimize financial risks and avoid setbacks. These datasets may include liability insurance options and claims, as well as HR-related factors like employee injuries and terminations. Within financial institutions, analysts evaluate investment opportunities, financial products, and organizational strategies.
- Senior Risk Manager
While the day-to-day duties of senior risk managers vary by employer, these professionals generally evaluate a company's operations to pinpoint and mitigate various financial and legal risks. Targets of their investigations include unacceptable workplace conditions, theft, fraud, and unethical business practices. A degree in economics, finance, or statistics is often required for these roles.
- Director, Mergers and Acquisitions
Mergers and acquisitions is a catch-all term for business transactions that consolidate companies and organizational assets. Directors of mergers and acquisitions engage with potential partners, evaluate the market and competing organizations for possible opportunities, and perform financial risk analyses to determine investment options.
Risk Management Analyst$67,000 Career
Senior Risk Manager$117,000 Career
Director, Mergers and Acquisitions$136,000
Search Programs by Concentration
Entrepreneurship as an MBA Graduate
Entrepreneurship carries many perks that may appeal to business school students. As the first table below demonstrates, the most common reasons for pursuing an entrepreneurial career include the desire to be one's own boss, the belief that self-employment is the best pathway for one's goods and services, and the potential for higher earnings compared to those who work for an established organization. The average entrepreneur in the U.S. receives an annual revenue stream of $7 million.
MBA programs prepare graduates for entrepreneurial careers by providing a comprehensive overview of business administration and management practices. Additionally, some schools offer MBA programs with entrepreneurship specializations that emphasize the crucial elements of self-employment.
Some industries attract more entrepreneurs than others. GMAC reports that 36% of entrepreneurs who graduate from business school pursue careers in consulting, 26% work in products and services, and 13% find careers in finance and accounting. Roughly 85% of entrepreneurs launch a business on their own, while 8% purchase their company from another owner, 5% inherit the company, and 2% receive a transfer of ownership.
Launching a business requires a significant financial investment. For this reason, securing venture capital from outside investors is critical to many businesses. U.S. startups received $130.9 billion in venture capital funding in 2018 alone. Industries where entrepreneurs seek and receive venture capital most frequently include energy and utilities, technology, manufacturing, and healthcare.
Motivations for MBA Graduates to Become Self-employed
|Motivation||% Marked "Very Important"|
|Wanted to Be My Own Boss||65%|
|Best Avenue for My Ideas/Goods/Services||64%|
|Opportunity for Greater Income||61%|
|Balance Work and Family||56%|
|Always Wanted to Start My Own Business||52%|
|Working for Someone Else Did Not Appeal to Me||31%|
|An Entrepreneurial Friend/Family Was a Role Model||27%|
|Couldn’t Find a Job||8%|
Percentage of MBA Graduates Who Sought Venture Capital (VC)
|Industry||Sought VC||Received VC|
How to Find a Job as an MBA Student
According to hiring platform Relish's survey of MBA students, 54% of respondents landed an internship during September of their first year of business school. Only 16% waited until the second semester to begin searching for an internship opportunity. Both first-year and second-year MBA students needed about six months (on average) to secure their internships, and one in seven reported that they spent at least 10 hours a week on recruitment.
Roughly 73% of respondents who began recruiting in August or earlier said they were satisfied with their recruiting experience
The survey also revealed a correlation between early recruiting and recruiting experience satisfaction. Roughly 73% of respondents who began recruiting in August or earlier said they were satisfied with their recruiting experience, while 56% of those who began recruiting in September were not satisfied. Furthermore, 20% of those who spent three hours or less on recruiting per week were satisfied; this was much lower than the 50% satisfaction rate of candidates who spent more than 15 hours per week on the recruitment process.
Ultimately, students who put time and energy into their recruitment -- and begin the search as soon as possible -- tend to end up happier with their experience. In the following section, we explore some of the resources MBA students can use during the recruitment process.
Where to Start
MBA students can access a wealth of recruitment opportunities, such as career centers, networking and recruiting events, alumni associations, and job fairs. Students are encouraged to take advantage of these opportunities while they are still in school.
1. Your School's Career Center
When looking at different programs, students should contact the career centers at prospective schools to inquire about mentorships, career coaching, networking events, and information about online careers and memberships. Some career centers offer other opportunities, as well. For example, the MBA Career Management Office at the University of Washington's Foster School of Business offers company treks to different cities, where students can participate in internships and attend conferences.
Additionally, students should use conversations with career center employees to gauge the quality and effectiveness of a school's MBA programs. An MBA program's job placement rate is an important marker, as is the number of alumni who enter their field of study after graduation. If possible, applicants should connect with alumni and ask about their MBA experience. Applicants should also research the companies that recruit on a given campus. According to experts, business schools with a high concentration of on-campus recruitment tend to produce MBA graduates who have a better chance of landing jobs.
Career centers are a valuable resource, but MBA students should also explore other avenues. Fredrik Marø, CEO of Evisors.com -- an online marketplace that connects MBA students with experts in different business fields -- told U.S. News & World Report that even the most robust business schools have a hard time providing individualized attention to each student. "Career offices are doing a great job, but not even Harvard Business School -- with 40 career coaches on staff -- can cover all the jobs, industries, and functions that students are interested in," Marø said.
2. Career Coaching and Workshops
MBA students should take advantage of their school's career coaching and workshop opportunities. Career coaches are usually alumni with strong professional backgrounds. Career coaches at Harvard Business School, for instance, need at least five years of postgraduate business experience in industries commonly sought after by students and alumni.
One-on-one career coaching offers individualized training for each student based on their career goals. Coaches can sharpen a student's job search strategies and provide advice about important details, like writing cover letters and resumes, interviewing, and negotiating salaries. Prospective MBA students should inquire about career coaching opportunities as they explore different schools.
Career workshops can also serve as a helpful introduction to life as an MBA student and graduate. These workshops allow participants to review case studies and solve complex problems they may encounter once they enter the workforce. Financial institutions like JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Morgan Stanley offer interactive workshops for pre-MBA and first-year MBA students. ExperienceBAIN Global -- a division of Bain & Company -- also offers interactive workshops, networking events, and webinars to prospective MBA students.
3. Job Search Courses
Job search courses usually consist of different modules dedicated to individual components of the job search process. For example, Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business offers the Summer Webinar Series, which is an interactive course sequence that students complete prior to beginning their MBA program. The first component of the workshop emphasizes "career deliverables," in which students develop a career prospectus to help them pinpoint postgraduate career opportunities, detail past career accomplishments they can discuss during job interviews, and produce a tailored resume.
First-year students then connect with career coaches, who they meet with regularly throughout the MBA program. Additionally, students complete five on-campus seminars addressing topics like job communication, networking, interviewing, and accessing resources from the school's career center.
Students can attend seminars and workshops throughout their program to uncover opportunities for MBA jobs, learn about real-world conditions, and receive feedback from experienced professionals.
4. Networking Events
Networking is fundamental to most successful MBA experiences. According to The Balance Careers, at least 60% of all jobs are secured through networking. Students can engage in formal networking by attending industry events or joining a professional organization. Job seekers can also reach out to friends and colleagues about job leads.
Students should attend many networking events, including pre-enrollment campus visits and classmate introductions during the initial stages of their program and company events and MBA career conferences throughout the academic year. Establishing accounts on networking sites, such as LinkedIn, can also help MBA students create a strong professional presence.
However, networking can carry a steep price. Some MBA networking events cost thousands of dollars to attend, and students are often required to cover these expenses themselves. For this reason, students should first consider networking opportunities coordinated through their school, which usually cost less than events sponsored by outside sources. Networking with recent MBA graduates and alumni is another cost-effective strategy.
5. Career Fairs and Forums
Career fairs and forums allow students to meet with potential employers and exchange information about job opportunities. Attendees may also receive feedback regarding their qualifications and postgraduate employment expectations. MBA students can learn about fairs and forums through listings provided by their business school. For example, the School of Management at the University of California, Davis maintains a list of career fair dates and locations.
According to the Career Fair Tips guide provided by the University of Missouri's Robert J. Trulaske, Sr. College of Business, confidence is key for career fair attendees. Friendly greetings, handshakes, and eye contact go a long way with company representatives, and students should not shy away from sharing their qualifications. Students should also dress as though they are attending a job interview and bring a stack of resumes to hand out to recruiters.
6. Recruiting Events
In addition to sending representatives to career fairs, many companies host recruiting events to fill vacant positions and meet suitable candidates. These events extend beyond the formal career fair model and use engaging, experiential marketing techniques. Recruiting events include competitions, weekend retreats, and "hackathons," which allow programmers, coders, and software developers to meet and participate in collaborative tech projects.
MBA students who attend recruiting events should make it a point to interface with the company's employees. Karen Heise, interim director of the Weston Career Center at the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis, tells U.S. News & World Report that students should meet with company representatives after employer-sponsored events end. Doing so allows students to exchange business cards and establish a one-on-one connection with recruiters. Students who attend recruiting events should also dress professionally and come prepared to pitch ideas.
Business school alumni are valuable resources for MBA students because they possess firsthand knowledge and experience in the corporate world. They are also familiar with a school's MBA curriculum and can provide insight about which courses to take and events to attend. Prospective students can also use alumni feedback to gauge potential schools. The Economist publishes an annual "Alumni Effectiveness Ranking," which scores the top 25 business schools based on feedback from alumni respondents.
Students can also access opportunities and resources through their school's alumni association. Online alumni communities allow students to chat with graduates and receive helpful career advice. Many alumni associations also host online career portals where students can browse job openings and employers can evaluate potential candidates. Other alumni association services may include webinars, career fairs, and networking events.
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School Services Post-graduation
According to Ivy Exec, MBA graduates should look to their alma mater for job resources and opportunities. As mentioned, alumni associations are a great starting point. These associations host job boards, and many alumni prefer to hire people who attended the same school. Alumni clubs across the country also offer numerous networking opportunities for MBA job seekers.
Many colleges and universities offer one-on-one advisory services for alumni, which often include career counseling, resume critiques, and mock interviews. Many services are available to alumni for free or at discounted rates. In addition, some institutions offer webinars, conferences, and other continuing education programs delivered on campus or remotely.
Recruiters and Headhunters
During their job search, MBA graduates typically encounter recruiters and headhunters. Both of these roles work to fill vacant positions for companies, although they go about their duties in different ways.
Recruiters may work in-house for one company or work for a recruitment agency that fills jobs for multiple organizations. Recruitment agencies advertise their services on job boards and other career-oriented sites. In general, there is no fee for those who locate work through a recruiter.
Headhunters, on the other hand, work on behalf of companies or job seekers. Rather than advertising their services, headhunters contact job seekers directly if they believe a candidate is right for a position. Headhunters typically work on commission, which gives them a stronger incentive to fill positions than recruiters. However, people who find jobs through headhunters must often pay for these services. It is also important to note that neither recruiters nor headhunters actually hire candidates; that responsibility is typically left up to a company's hiring manager.
The choice between using a recruiter or a headhunter depends on a candidate's skill set. Recruiters generally fill low-level, unspecialized roles, while headhunters pursue candidates for positions that require more skills and experience.
When contacted by a recruiter, MBA graduates should review the position and make sure it is right for them. They should not assume that they are the only candidate being considered, nor should they assume that the position is tailored for them. They should also tailor their resume and CV to the position in question.
MBA Job Boards
Job boards and job search engines list available jobs for MBA graduates. Companies often pay job boards a small fee to list vacancies, and site visitors can apply for positions directly through the website. Some job boards are generalized and cover a variety of industries, while other boards focus on one particular industry. Job boards for the business sector include TalentZoo for marketing positions, CrunchBoard for IT and tech startup jobs, and JobsInLogistics for supply chain jobs.
Job search engines, such as Indeed.com and SimplyHired.com, collect information about open positions from company websites, but employers do not typically pay to advertise vacancies. As a result, job seekers who use search engines can find information about openings at many different organizations. Popular job search engines for MBA grads include eFinancialCareers, SalesJobs.com, and OneWire.
Leverage Your Contacts
Fostering relationships with "power contacts", such as executives and top-level managers, is key to leveraging a business network, writes Tom Searcy of Inc. It's up to the graduate to maintain this relationship on their own, rather than through other people in their network. Helping a new contact solve a complex problem may pave the way for a valuable relationship built on mutual trust and respect. Following up is also crucial. Thank you notes, recommendations, referrals, and handwritten messages offer simple ways to stay connected with contacts.
Identifying valuable contacts is another important skill in leveraging a network. Rather than pursuing opportunities with every contact, effective networkers invest time and energy into high-value contacts. Peer advisory groups are another useful networking tool. These groups consist of only a handful of members, each of whom is personally invested in exploring options and brainstorming with the other people in the group. Joining an advisory board, which explores strategies for a specific organization, offers similar benefits.
Consider Independent Work
The term "gig economy" refers to a business environment where independent contractors and short-term positions are commonplace. In recent years, the U.S. and Europe have trended toward a gig economy. A 2016 McKinsey Global Institute survey found that 162 million people -- or 20%-30% of working-age adults -- work in some sort of independent professional role.
Author Diane Mulcahy writes in the Harvard Business Review that MBA graduates may benefit from choosing gigs over full-time jobs. Full-time job growth has stagnated, and many companies no longer offer the same measure of job security they once did. Additionally, hiring full-time employees is roughly 30%-40% more expensive than hiring independent workers due to factors like health benefits and retirement planning. Mulcahy adds that students should learn to cultivate the skills and attitudes necessary to succeed in the gig economy because it may provide more job opportunities in the long run.