Monthly Archives: October 2011

Balancing MBA Academics and an Effective Job Search

Everyone begins an MBA program for the same basic reason:  to take their careers to a new level whether that is field, industry, or level of positions.  At Texas A&M University, we meet with every one of our new students individually to talk about their future careers short and long term.  One area of the job search that many students do not expect to be a challenge is the ability to find the time to perform an effective job search in conjunction with a comprehensive academic program.  I have listed a few tips to overcome the timing issue for MBA job seekers. 

  1. You can work on your job search part time but not in your spare time:  It is important that you carve time out of your schedule each week and treat it like a class or meeting you cannot cancel or reschedule.  Do not be flexible with this schedule.  It’s the same as being flexible with a workout—once you start making excuses; you will find the commitment falling by the way side. 
  2. Plan your work and work your plan:  Know what you are going to do during your job search “class time” each week.  Just like your academic class or business presentation, you have to prepare.   Know what you are going to do.  Set an agenda, and keep to that agenda.  And do not forget to end every session with a plan of what to do next.  If you sit down to work on your job search without an organized plan you have created beforehand, you will spend your time planning as opposed to executing.
  3. Create an accountability group and give these people the right to hold your feet to the fire concerning your job search.  You need people who will not only encourage and mentor you through your job search but also tell you when you need to pick yourself up by the bootstraps and get to work.  I highly recommend you read Keith Ferrazzi’s Who’s Got Your Back to learn how to effectively create accountability partners.

If your ultimate goal after graduation is to be employed, then you have to succeed both in your academics and job search.  You cannot afford wasted time on either side of that fence, thus working smarter not harder is imperative to achieve both your MBA degree as well as successful employment.

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Successful Careers Involve Action Verbs Not Nouns

Remember when you were asked as a child what you wanted to BE when you grew up?  I, myself, love the excitement and joy in a child’s voice when talking about their future dreams.  I know mine were bigger than life.  We all wanted to save the world when we are kids by being a police officer, a doctor, a nurse or a super hero.   Fast forward to your high school or college years when you were asked the same question and I would bet the only difference to your answer is the title.  You still focus on what you want to BE.  We have simplified what we want to do with our lives and careers into a title.  

The problem with titles is that they rarely bring happiness in our careers.  Do you ever hear people talk with excitement about their job titles?  NO!  People get excited when talking about the amazing things they do in their jobs.  Passion drives our actions, and our actions drive our passions. 

When seeking potential positions, focus your effort in identifying job descriptions that match your career goals as opposed to the job titles.  Many times the job titles do not match the job description at all.  You will also find that positions with similar job descriptions are labeled differently depending on the company. 

Networking is one of the best ways to clarify job title confusion.  Besides building valuable relationships, networking offers the opportunity to learn about what people DO in their careers.  When employers host career fairs, the recruiters talk about what employees DO in specific positions.  The value you provide to employers will be through your actions not your title. 

Most people leave jobs not because of the job title but because of the job experience.  If you aren’t showing your value and growing in your career experience, you will not be happy.  Then, your career turns into a JOB! 

If you want a career and not a job, seek positions with job descriptions that match your ACTION goals.  Focus your job search on the action verbs and less on the nouns.