By Michelle Sarhis, CommonBond
Let's face it: if finding your dream job were easy, it wouldn't be a "dream," and sometimes job opportunities don't work out the way you hoped. If you're a recent MBA grad and realizing your present role isn't all it was cracked up to be, you're not alone. The good news is that you have quite a few resources to help you change course. Here are some things I recommend considering to find your next role.
Head back to the career office. As an MBA, you have an amazing resource in the form of your career development office, people whose jobs are to give you all the tools you need to succeed. Of course, no one is a better advocate for your career than you, so make sure you approach your career office with requests that are as specific as possible. Can they help you most by connecting you to alumni who have been in your situation before, or do you need counsel on what other firms in your industry are warmly seeking MBA hires? You can likely still enter your school's résumé books or internal job boards, which could be a great option for many MBAs.
Avoid résumé portals. Yes, avoid portals and network instead. This is especially true for professionals who are seeking to change functions - submitting a résumé through a portal for a job you're not obviously right for will not get you anywhere. Much like in sales, any firm is much more likely to be receptive to a warm introduction than a résumé sent cold, so make every effort to find an "in." Use your alumni network, especially your classmates and professors, to make these connections to new prospective employers. If you're wondering whether you should work with a recruiter, keep in mind that recruiters are generally being paid by the hiring firms, so their focus is more on filling those firms' open roles than on placing candidates (in most cases). Still, they can provide you with the warm introduction that a portal can't, and it can't hurt to reach out to recruiters in your field; if you're a highly marketable candidate, you stand a good chance of having your résumé shared through a recruiting firm.
Decide your path. If you find yourself in a job you don't enjoy, yet you're not sure what is the right path, take a step back and reevaluate what jobs might be a great fit for you. A tool like a Myers-Briggs test can be very helpful in revealing your strengths and ideal professional situation.
If you're leaning towards a functional change (e.g., from finance to marketing or sales to product management), realize that it's simply tougher to switch function than industry, and you'll very likely be taking a step down in terms of level and compensation for your next job. If this doesn't fit your financial needs at the moment, you might want to test out a new industry first, though there are other ways to improve your financial situation, too. For one...
Don't let your loans drive you. Given the rising costs of business school, many MBAs might be facing six figures of debt upon graduation, and, if at all possible, it's important to not let that debt decide your professional path. One strategy is refinancing in order to lower your interest rate, potentially saving you thousands of dollars over the life of your loans. You can also ask your lender what options you have to pause your monthly loan payments, which can be helpful for MBAs who are thinking about pursuing entrepreneurial projects. At CommonBond, for example (plug alert! I work here), we have a unique CommonBridge program to help borrowers who are in between jobs find consulting opportunities, meaning we'll work with you to ensure your loans don't interfere with your passions.
Make it personal (in person and in print). The last thing is to ensure that all of your communications are personal and memorable. In print, this means exactingly tailoring your résumé to fit different job descriptions, especially roles that differ from what you're doing now. Additionally, if a cover letter or written introduction is required, craft a message that is specific to that company/role. You will need to demonstrate why you're interested and why you're the right person for the role more so than other candidates who have done the role before; a boilerplate cover letter that you use for a variety of roles won't help you sell yourself. In person, this means attending networking events so that you can meet hiring firms and share your story. I personally recruit for MBA hires at a variety of events, from the campus information sessions to tech meetups and relevant conferences in New York City. Make sure you're signed up for your school's alumni groups, especially the local chapters, on LinkedIn and other platforms so that you never miss an opportunity to meet likeminded peers and future employers.
At the end of the day, an MBA is a generalist degree that prepares you for dealing with all aspects of a business, so rest assured that your prospects are good! If you have other questions or thoughts on making the change, leave a comment, and happy hunting.
Michelle Sarhis is Direct of Talent Acquisition at CommonBond, a student lending platform that provides a better student loan experience through lower rates, superior service, a simple application process and a strong commitment to community. CommonBond is also the first company to bring the 1-for-1 model to education and finance.