A guest post from Jonathan Kwan, an external career consultant to NUS Business School & an expert career coach:
If you have finished your MBA or undergraduate degree and haven’t yet secured a job, there’s probably a good reason for that. You were focused on your studies and getting good grades. You were leading a club and wanted the handover to your juniors to be smooth. Or you were just having too good of a time and never wanted to leave…Right?
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. And the reality is that you may have simply been too picky during campus recruiting, didn’t know what you wanted, or weren’t as focused as your peers in the job search process. So, here are a few tips to get you going.
1. Know What You Want
There are many people you will meet along the way that genuinely would love to help you, but if you simply “just want a job, any job”, you’re not making it easy for them. Having a specific goal in mind, or even a few options, and being able to articulate why (i.e. your motivation), are extremely important steps in the job search process. Not only will friends, family and acquaintance be better equipped to point you in the right direction, when you do meet someone in your target field, you will be able to make a great first impression.
Knowing what you really want can be the million dollar question, so one tip is to think back to your coursework. Which classes did you enjoy the most? Which assignments did you spend more time then you should have completing because they were interesting? You can also look at taking some psychometric tests to give yourself more data. CareerLeader is one that is used by most of the top business schools. Which leads me to my next tip…
2. Visit Your Career Centre
Do you even know where this office is at your school? Most students don’t. At NUS Business School, it is located on the ground floor of the Mochtar Riady Building, immediately to the right of the elevators, and its Career Services team is committed to helping you, even if you’ve graduated. You can get access to CareerLeader and have one of the trained counselors interpret your results. The team can also help give you an idea of what sectors are hot right now, and where the in-demand opportunities are. Of course, back to #1, knowing what you want is a major pre-requisite. Don’t expect them to tell you what to do, or hand you a job.
An extremely useful and under-utilized service is a mock interview, especially if you’ve gone for job interviews in the past and have been unsuccessful. Knowing where you’ve gone wrong, in both the verbal and non-verbal communication can be crucial to your future success. And companies rarely give you any feedback.
3. Talk to Your Professors
Many students simply believe professors are only there to teach, and few take the time to get to know them. However, most business school professors have very close relationships to companies through joint collaborations and sometimes even consulting for them. Talking with your professors can be a great way to hone your motivation story and get potential leads. It wouldn’t hurt if you also did well in their course. Buy them a coffee, or take them out for lunch, but make you sure you…
4. Do Your Homework
Nothing gets a professional more turned off than when you waste his or her time. If you’re able to get 1-on-1 time with them, please make sure you’ve prepared. Know what their company does, know their background (i.e. try LinkedIn), and have some good questions to ask, the more specific, the better. Questions such as “what do you most love/hate about your job?” do not impress. There are also lots of great websites and online guides (ask your career centre about Vault.com) to help you prepare. So, when you’re ready, with your career centre, professors, friends, and alumni, be ready to…
5. Go for Coffee Chats
This can be one of the most effective ways to access the “hidden job market”, where potentially up to 80% of all available jobs are. Many will call this networking, but let’s make a few things absolutely clear, so you don’t make the classic mistakes
. Some of your key objectives of a coffee chat are to get insider information, show real genuine interest in their profession, and overall impress. What you must never do: NEVER ASK FOR A JOB. If you’re able to show that you’ve done your homework, ask insightful questions, and show interest without appearing desperate, people will notice and offer help. Asking for JOB advice, JOB opportunities or referrals to those that might have JOBS is a huge no-no.
Ideally, you should have started this process 6-8 months before graduation, but now with no school in the way, you have no excuse not to get out there and meet people. Your goal should be to meet at least 2 people face-to-face. Again, start with friends, family, professors, and alumni.
While this may not lead to your first job upon graduation, making a strong positive impression could open doors in the near future. So remember to be kind, courteous and grateful. Good luck!
Images via pmtips.net & purplelizard.co.za
About the Author
Jonathan Kwan is a Principal at Kwantum Leap, and a career coach focused on the under-40 crowd. He is also an external advisor for many top business schools including Cambridge, HKUST, INSEAD, NUS. Previously, he spent 8 years travelling the globe as a management consultant. For more tips, you can follow him on Twitter,Facebook, or on the web.