Dear current MIM cohort and newbie MIMers,
Have you thought about the job search yet? Because if you haven’t, you might want to start NOW. Have you talked to MIM alumni at all about their job search? I have discovered that the average amount of time it seems to take MIMers to secure a job is approximately six months from the moment they actively start looking. This is information I’ve collected over a few generations of MIM alumni. In addition, there are always those whose job search continues for a year or longer. I just met a part time MBA student a few weeks ago who already had a full time job and was looking to make a career change. He said he sent out many, many job applications over a two-year period. He finally got ONE job offer after looking for a new job for TWO years.
I gave myself the deadline of starting my job search in August but here it is mid-September and I finally sent off my first application. Life gets in the way, right? I got busy with the end of summer term classes, being part of a planning committee for a fundraiser, and working on my final business research project – fondly known as the “Exit Project.” It happens, but let me warn you, starting the job search is time-consuming. You need to budget and put aside some time to get this done, even if it is just a little bit at a time.
This is how I would recommend getting your job search started if you haven’t done so already.
- Stay organized from the very beginning! I started a list of potential employers I would like to work for, prioritizing with my most important to least important so I know the order that I should apply for jobs with each company.
- When you find jobs you are interested in, email yourself the job link immediately and put “JOB, X-COMPANY, X-POSITION” in the subject line so that it is easy to find later when you have time to apply. This will also save you time so that you do not have to go back and search for that job again when you need the job requisition or position number for your application.
- Keep track of every job you apply for on a spreadsheet. I know, super-geeky, but I created a spreadsheet with these categories: Company Name, Job Title, Job Posting #, Date Application Was Submitted, Resume/Cover Letter Submitted (yes/no), Three-Week Date (this is the average amount of time I assume it would take to hear back, and if I do not hear back then I know that I should follow up), and a Notes column for misc things I want to keep track of (maybe the hiring manager’s name, or maybe dates of contact). This will come in handy when and if your list of job applications starts to grow. As one MIM alum reported to me, he applied for so many jobs that after a while he was not sure which ones were calling him!
- Print out a hard copy of the job description, along with your cover letter, resume, and the online job application (as this will contain other information such as professional reference info that your resume will not) and staple it all together and keep it in a file folder. What is the purpose of this? So that when the talent acquisition team comes calling, you can pull that file and refer to the information you provided when you applied for the job. This way, you don’t blunder your way through the initial phone conversation (also useful if you need to respond by email since you will have all the info at your fingertips). This is especially important if you are planning to apply for different types of jobs, which I have seen is often the case with MIM alumni who pursue both international and domestic jobs.
- Start making a list of your professional references that you plan to use on your job applications. I just filled out my first job application and it asked for professional (not personal) references – the application asked specifically for people who could attest to my academic and work experience. Keep these peoples’ names, job titles, companies, email addresses, and phone numbers handy. Keep in mind that you may want to switch up your list of professional references based upon the job you are applying for. For instance, the job I applied for is one that mixes my medical background with marketing so I used my marketing professor along with a heart surgeon I have worked with as my references. If I were applying for another position or a non-medical-related position I may not feel that these references would be the best for me to use. A tip for incoming MIMers…as you go through your 15 to 27 months of school, always keep in mind which people in your network (professors, administration, business contacts, etc.) might be people whom you can ask to be your professional references at a later date. It is a good idea to start collecting them early on so that when it is time to start your job search, submit a study abroad application, or you want to go for that scholarship, you aren’t in a position where you realize you did not cultivate any close working relationships with those around you.
- Always keep your resume updated! Then you will have less work to do when you sit down and are actually ready to apply for your dream job. The minute you start something new that is resume-worthy, take the time to update your resume with that information! You never know when an opportunity will come up and you will need a copy of your resume on the fly (i.e. a career fair or maybe a networking contact who wants to pass your resume on to someone).
- Block out time in your schedule to work on applying for jobs. Having just finished filling out my first online job application, it was quite time-consuming! Although the website allowed me to upload my resume and auto-filled some online information boxes with info from my resume, it didn’t do a thorough or accurate job so I still had to go through and make corrections and add information. In addition, the job I applied for asked me to list my certifications related to the medical field, which was even more time-consuming. (It asked for certification info even though the job description states that medical background is a bonus but not a requirement.)
- Be prepared for surprises! This job application asked me for a numerical figure for my base salary requirements (DOH! this is not so optimal, as we discussed and in our Business Negotiations class) – mandatory information on the job application so no way around it, and there were also spots for GPA for both my undergraduate and graduate education – not mandatory but clearly they wanted that information if there was a box for it. I was just surprised to see the GPA box as everyone tells you “GPA doesn’t matter to future employers when you are in graduate school” and that “they will never ask you for it.”
- Give your professional references a heads up that you plan to list them on your job applications so that they are not caught off-guard when a strange number appears on their phone. Giving them a heads up also allows them to prepare in advance what they might say about you when they get the call. You may even want to go as far as to forward a copy of your cover letter and resume to your professional references so they are aware of ALL the wonderful accomplishments and skills you possess, beside already knowing that you are a great person whom they would highly recommend!
- Get third-party feedback on your resume and cover letters, especially if you are making a career change. It never hurts to ask and see what others think when they read about the paper version of you. You might want to use trusted classmates, business professionals in your network, or Portland State University’s SBA Career Resource Management team.
I will end with part of the tagline by Edwards Lifesciences, “…life is now.” So let’s get busy living the rest of our lives, which starts in approximately 12 weeks, MIMers! GOOO MIM!!! GO SUCCESSFUL JOB HUNTING!!!