Why are we here getting our MBAs? For most of us, we have returned to the pleasure and pain of the student lifestyle after a few or many years off to take that next step in our careers, to bring us one step closer to that “dream job”, the one job that will get us to the top of the corporate ladder and/or make us happier than any job ever has before. But there are so many jobs out there…how to choose? Should you ever put all your eggs in one basket? NEVER. Just as you would not choose a life partner from a headshot and a short biography – don’t go falling for the first glamorous job description you read. This is a big commitment. And you are offering that company something incredibly valuable as well: your professional time, expertise, and perhaps anywhere from the next couple years to decades of your working life! So now that we have established you will be on the job hunt and researching, applying to and interviewing for multiple positions/companies at once, here are a few rules to help you along the way:
Rule #1: Stay organized.
Whether or not everyone agrees upon how much is just right, everyone and anyone can agree that your life in business school will be that much easier if you figure out a way to stay organized that works for you. All other rules are merely suggestions. If you can get staying organized figured out, you are on the right path. It’s hard to be applying to many jobs at once, as you will certainly do in business school. Just like using the wrong name on a first date is a no-no, sending a cover letter to Company A raving about the wonderful opportunities about Company B might be even worse. (Note: let calendars and calendar reminders become your best friends.)
Rule#2: Don’t just call when you need a date.
Stay in touch when you don’t need something from your network so you have a friendly conversation going when you do. You are supposed to be passionate about the industry, field, etc. you are going into. So live it. Follow thought leaders on Twitter. Set up Google alerts. Listen to upcoming research shared by your professors in class. Then forward interesting articles appropriately on to your network connections. What is a little gesture on your end can make a world of difference on theirs. Write thank you notes after informational interviews and interviews when possible. Old-fashioned? Maybe. Memorable and professional? Definitely.
Rule #3: Be friendly and talk to people.
Nothing helps cement information in your brain like explaining it to other people. Talk to your classmates and friends about companies you are interviewing with and why you like them. Utilize your career development staff at school. They are really there to help. You will be amazed at how natural and authentic your interview answer to, “Why do you want to work for our company?” becomes when you have been telling your best friend, your barista, and your grandma for the past couple weeks. Also, who knows? Sharing your goals and interests with those around you can lead to network connections you wouldn’t have imagined!
Rule #4: Always bring you’re A game but have high standards.
When you are meeting “the family” on an interview, bring your best self: dress to impress, and when someone says, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” definitely try to refrain from saying, “Not with your daughter/son, that’s for sure…but she/he would look really great on my resume!” Also, be honest with how the experience as a whole went after the interview. Did you feel that spark? Did it take HR many weeks more than promised to get back to you and they misspelled your name in the offer email? Just as you treat them wonderfully, make sure you are committing to a company that makes you feel great as well. Little signs in the interview process might not just be blips in the radar, but instead red flags to what it is like to work for the company. Good luck with your future dream job search. Here’s to you and your dream job living happily ever after!