Building a Target List

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What Matters to You?

Too many times we’ve seen students get caught up in recruiting for companies or roles they’re not a good fit for, leading to their not receiving any offers and having to start over from square or starting a job they’re miserable in. Obviously you’re a smart cookie and would never fall into that trap, but just in case we’re here to help you avoid that early on.

While it is exciting to picture yourself working at all the prestigious companies coming to your campus, there aren’t enough hours in the week to deeply explore all of them. Between class, extracurricular activities, meeting new friends, and just finding the time to eat and sleep you’ll have to prioritize your time to recruit effectively. Once you’re on campus things will start moving fast, so the basic research and self-assessment we talked about in the previous section will serve as a foundation to allow you to begin the job hunt in earnest. Your initial industry and company research can get more in-depth as you gain access to recruiters and alumni through company briefings, events, and marketing materials geared towards MBAs.

What Matters Most? Least?

It is helpful to take your self-reflection from the realm of the theoretical to the practical at this stage. Write down what’s most important to you in your job and your life. Everyone has different motivations for getting their MBA. Perhaps you need to be close to family in Texas, and location is more important to you than how much money you make. Or maybe you want to finally replace your twelve year old beater with a shiny new car when you graduate, and a big signing bonus is what you’re after. Whatever your motivators, thinking through them in a systematic way helps you prioritize where you spend your energy and time.

For instance, you might draw up a matrix like this:

Company Size 10%
Location 30%
Salary 10%
Travel 20%
Industry 20
Hours/Wk 10

While everyone’s factors and weighting will be different, a chart like this is helpful to know how to proceed as recruiting season starts up. Of course, you can’t quantify everything in life, and there’s no database to compare all these factors. This will be a mix of qualitative and quantitative information, and will come from company information you get in briefings or online, from conversations with recruiters and alumni, and talking to your fellow students.

Making a Plan B (or Plan C)

There might not be a clear first choice even after you’ve done all this reflection, and that’s ok. In fact, it’s not always a good idea to put all your eggs in one basket when it comes to recruiting. Early on in the school year you should begin to think about your top choice and be able to articulate why you want to pursue that, but don’t close off other companies or roles that might also be a good fit. For instance, you might know that CPG marketing is your number one goal because you enjoy working on cross-functional teams using data to make customers happy. But in your conversations and research you might decide that a company’s general management rotational program also offers a lot of the same things a marketing role would. Based on that, you could decide to spend most of your time networking with marketing alumni and preparing for interviews in that sphere, while also keeping abreast of job postings and company events for general management roles that might allow you to work in a similar environment.

Doing this prioritization early on will help you stay true to yourself. It’s easy to follow the herd and end up pursuing something that’s not a good fit for you, either personally or professionally. You can save yourself a lot of headaches down the line by aligning your job search with your true interests.

Next: Thinking Like a Recruiter>>