The MBA Recruiting Process – Insights from Darden ’15 Grad and CEO of RelishMBA
Hello from the RelishMBA team, and congratulations on being admitted to the MBA Class of 2017! My name is Sarah, and I’m a recent Darden School of Business graduate who founded RelishMBA, an online recruiting platform built specifically for the business school recruiting market. As a recent grad who works full-time in the MBA recruitment space, I wanted to share some recruiting advice and tips to help you prepare for arriving on campus.
The first thing to be aware of is that MBA recruiting is a long and intense process. Recruiting activities begin quickly once you’re on campus and they take up a huge amount of your time and energy for most of your first year. While virtually all top MBA students have great jobs available to them, finding those jobs can be frustrating and stressful, with relevant information often hard to find and a complex networking process that can be tough to effectively manage. I started RelishMBA to address these problems and make the process more efficient for both students and employers.
The summer is a great time to get started with recruiting processes (while you don’t have to worry about school, student clubs, social life, and the dozens of other activities that fill up your time during first year). Luckily, there are a few things you can do to prepare before school starts in August: Relax. Explore. Prepare.
Relax – business school is a big change from the working world; take a bit of time off. You deserve it and you’ll need the break!
Explore – In your time relaxing, begin checking out what industries and companies recruit MBAs. This is something RelishMBA helps with. Sign-up at www.RelishMBA.com to begin exploring employer’s company pages on MBA Careers specific for your school (“day in the life” alumni testimonials, on-campus presence, key points of contact, etc.).
Prepare – And lastly, get your resume ready. Below are some tips from my experience.
It’s also important to remember that once you’re on campus, you’ll be networking with recruiters and alumni frequently – and RelishMBA will help you here too, through relationship management tools that make it easy to stay on top of your networking game. Have any questions? Reach out anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1) Writing your resume is your first Marketing assignment
Your resume is essentially a one-page advertisement designed to sell your brand to employers. But as your first year marketing class will tell you, marketing is about a lot more than just a fancy design and a few well-placed buzzwords. Think about your audience (i.e. who will be reading your resume? Finance recruiters? Consultants? Marketers? Others?) and how you are positioning yourself with that audience (i.e. what work experiences would be most relevant or interesting to the recruiters reading your resume?).
For example, if you’re headed up to Wall Street, focus on the more quantitatively rigorous parts of your work experience, and try to make sure that your resume as a whole reflects an interest in and passion for finance and its associated disciplines. Future consultants will want to highlight problem-solving and analytical thinking. Marketers could talk about leading cross-functional teams or point out examples of especially effective communication.
And if you are not sure what you want to do, don’t sweat it – there are lots of you out there, and it’s no big deal for the next few weeks or months. But regardless of your eventual industry or function targets, remember: your resume is not just a chronicle of your past work achievements; it is an advertisement designed to effectively sell you and your brand to recruiters.
2) Be concise but specific
This is one of the more difficult parts of honing your resume: providing specific examples of relevant work accomplishments in a way that a recruiter can easily digest in a few seconds. Try starting each bullet point with a strong action word. Instead of saying something like “Helped to more than double sales during tenure in catchment area,” try something like “Launched blogger outreach program that increased web traffic by 72% and increased sales by 120%”.
These sorts of hard numbers are really helpful, especially since many recruiters will spend only a few seconds looking at your resume and those numbers stand out on the page. So it’s also important to be sure that your bullet points can be read and processed easily. And if you don’t have a lot of specific numbers to add to your resume, it’s still important to be specific about your accomplishments and to pick your words wisely.
3) Add some flair
You should be careful with how much flair you add to your resume, but it’s a good idea to think of ways to set yourself apart from the competition. The “Personal” section at the bottom of your resume, where you list hobbies, activities, and interests, is an easy place to hook a recruiter (or break the ice in an interview). Only mention things that are truly a part of your life, but still consider your audience and which of your hobbies or experiences might be of interest to the recruiters reading your resumes. Once you reach campus, you’ll hear plenty of stories about students who were able to land first or even second-round interviews largely on the basis of what seem like minor resume items.
Other ways to add flair:
- Were you kind of a big deal in college? It’s worthwhile to mention any particularly important or impressive extracurriculars from your undergrad days (particularly leadership roles), and including club affiliations and other school-specific positions can be a good idea once you get onto campus
- Recruiters are looking to hire real people, not business robots. Make sure your resume – the accomplishments you choose to mention, the structure and content of the Personal section – reflects your personality.
4) Don’t be careless
This is the part where we tell you that a few people every year submit resumes with misspelled words or mismatched fonts or other significant but easily avoidable mistakes, and that you could be one of those people if you’re not careful, and you think “I’d never be that much of an idiot,” and then you send your resume to McKinsey or Google with your name spelled wrong at the top. Don’t be that person.
Seriously, just get a friend to read it. Several friends. Have a resume-reading party. But don’t spell your name wrong.