Recent MBA Graduates Without a Job – 10 Tips to Take Control of Your Career

So, you graduated with your MBA and have no full-time job waiting for you?

Before we dive right in, let me just congratulate you on earning your MBA degree. I know that it took a large effort on your part, possibly a sacrifice on many levels, and was also stressful, fun, exhausting, and fulfilling. Well done!

Graduation itself was probably a mix of happiness, relief, and even a little sadness because you were saying goodbye to some good friends.

Maybe there was also something else. You knew that many of your classmates had full-time job offers waiting for them in a few weeks or months, while you had/have nothing lined up.

This article is for you.

I am reaching out to you because I was you six years ago. I graduated from Kenan-Flagler Business School (UNC) with an MBA in marketing and had no job waiting for me after graduation. I was a career switcher (Wall St. to Marketing) and despite many parallels between the two career paths, many recruiters and companies were not seeing the connection and instead were only seeing limited marketing experience on my résumé.

Any of this sound familiar?

Also, I know the income is needed. You have expenses, possibly including new student loans. I get it. I moved back home after graduation. I certainly don’t have advice for every specific situation but what I do know is that you cannot get down on yourself or let negative thoughts creep in and impact your next move.

You have a lot of value to add to an organization and now you need to regroup and find a way in. Keep in mind that this may take several months or longer, however if you remain persistent and focused, you will overcome this minor setback.

Allow me to offer some advice based on either my personal experience or what I learned in hindsight. I hope they are a help to you.

1. Don’t compare yourself to your classmates

You don’t know what you don’t know. Everyone is in a different situation. For example, some of your classmates got their dream offer, some possibly took an offer and now have a hint of regret, some maybe took the first or only offer presented to them, while others are returning to the companies that they worked at before business school because they have to.

You don’t know everyone’s story and it doesn’t matter. Your classmates are starting their new journeys and so are you.

Wish them well and focus on your next steps.

2. Take care of yourself

· Exercise at least several times a week

· Eat well

· Get enough sleep

· Get outside

· Laugh. Read funny books; watch comedies or stand-up comedy

Looking for a new job is stressful and is even more difficult if you’re sick. Stay healthy.

3. Get together with people

Reach out to friends, former co-workers, or classmates for coffee or lunch. It’s great just to catch up and have a good conversation. Whether they can help you directly is not the point. Meeting with them will very likely give you a boost and make you both feel good.

4. Attend networking events

Sites like and alumni events are a great place to make a new contact or two. You never know where one meeting could lead.

5. Add variety to your day

Do not spend 8 hours a day just job searching. You’ll get burned out. Mix it up to stay motivated… and sane.

Take time each day to read the newspaper, different magazines, online articles, books on people or topics that you are interested in. You can get all of this information for free at your public library. It’s a great resource. Take advantage of it.

Additionally, while I know you just finished 2+ years of classes, there are also tons of online courses available if you want to learn or become more familiar with certain topics.

6. Think of where you want to go in the longer term

There’s a very good chance that you have an idea of where you want your career to go over the next 5 years or so. Keep that perspective handy and realize that your first job will be a stepping stone to the next opportunity all leading to whatever your larger goal is. Landing a job is not the end game. It’s a chapter in your larger book.

7. Set parameters for your job search… but be open too

You’ll regret taking just any job or the wrong job and you don’t want to be in that situation. Focus on where you want to work. Consider the commute, the hours you’re willing to work, what type of organization, what size organization, etc. If an opportunity comes up where you possibly need to make concessions, then you can make them at that time. Additionally, you may have an opportunity that looks interesting but isn’t necessarily what you are focusing on. At a minimum, be open to it and assess whether it will help you move toward your professional goals.

8. Do not endlessly apply to companies through their online portals

I made this mistake. Who knows how many hours I wasted filling out and submitting my résumé, cover letter, and other information only to never get a response.

Send your résumé and a letter directly to a company that you’re interested in via USPS (not email) whether they have a job posted or not. Use LinkedIn to research and send your information to whomever would be potentially looking to hire in the department that you’re interested in. Let THAT person then reach out to HR.

8a. You need one good fit, not 100

Don’t wait to hear back from companies; keep moving forward. I don’t know when many companies started thinking that it’s acceptable not to communicate back to candidates, especially after you take the time to interview with them, but it happens far too often and there is one good way to deal with it:

Acknowledge that it’s the company’s loss, not yours, and move on.

9. Keep practicing your interviewing skills

It’s possible that you’ll have gaps of time in between interviews. Make the effort to consistently rehearse answers to common interview questions to stay sharp. You can practice with friends or even by yourself out loud. If you’re working with a recruiter, ask him or her to ask you some quick questions so you can answer and get immediate feedback. This will also help take some of the pressure off of you when the next interview comes around… which it will.

10. Consider other approaches

This was the turning point for me.

After months of submitting applications to those online portals, I realized that one of the companies that I was interested in kept posting the same jobs over and over on their website. I decided to reach out to the UNC Career Management Center in February of 2012 to ask for an alum who worked at the company. I figured I might as well just get in touch with someone AT the company instead of hoping a computer liked my résumé.

I received the information, reached out right away, and explained my situation to the alum, who was sympathetic. While we were talking, I said to him that I would even consider an internship because in my mind I knew two things: 1) UNC had a strong connection with the company and their summer internship program and 2) I could not hear that I did not have ‘enough experience’ for a full-time job one more time. I figured the internship would be a no-brainer for them and a decent back up plan for me.

Long story short, they wound up offering me the summer internship in April of 2012 which I accepted.

That’s right. One YEAR after graduating, I was now going to work in the field that I studied for. I was one graduate among 11 current MBA students who were in between their first and second years. I didn’t care. This was a win for me.

I worked hard that summer, learned as much as I could, and left in August with a résumé that now helped recruiters and companies see the ‘connection’. Ridiculous, right? The idea that I was now substantially more marketable because of a 10-week internship was silly. But, that’s how many people view it which is why I knew the internship would pay off.

A few months later, a recruiter helped me land a job where I remained for 4 years and 2 months. I was fortunate to work at that company because I learned and contributed more there than I would have at a larger company. In the end, this made the whole year after graduating worth it. I ultimately got to where I wanted to be at this point in my career.


Remember, you are not at a disadvantage for not having a full-time job at this moment. Your path just looks different – which doesn’t matter anyway. (Point #1)

Focus on you and realize that you have a ton to offer a deserving organization. Do not let yourself get discouraged and do not let any company or individual make you second guess the reasons that got you to this point.

There is no one right way to go about your career. Do what you need to do to set yourself up to keep moving towards whatever your short and long term goals are.

I wish you all the best.

Take Control of Your Career and Future Employment

Do you feel that your career is stagnating and you’ve resigned yourself to the fact of hoping that your employer will retain you on payroll in these uncertain times? Do you find yourself laying fault with the job market, the economy, or your employer for not advancing as quickly as you anticipated? Maybe it’s time to take a very hard but objective look at your skills and your work ethic. “The Economy is Changing, Jobs are Changing and the Workforce is Changing. Is America Ready? Rethinking Work” was the cover page of the special 65th anniversary issue of Businessweek magazine in October 17, 1994, celebrating 65 years of the American work ethic and how it has evolved through the decades. That article seems dated now, but the trend is perhaps more applicable than ever today.

Just take a look at the 401K plan which was first approved by Congress in 1974 and enacted in January 1980. Prior to the 401K, administration of a company sponsored pension plan was their administrative responsibility. With the advent of the 401K, corporations provided an opportunity for their employees to invest in a tax deferred savings plan for retirement, but there’s a caveat, you must manage the fund options yourself and how well you perform financially in the plan is your responsibility, not the employer. If you’re passive with administration of fund allocations, it will be reflected in the overall financial performance.

Many parents of, and baby boomers themselves, may have worked for a single employer for a number of years and as long as they performed satisfactorily, it invariably assured them of earning a guaranteed pension funded by their employer upon retirement. Loyalty and longevity seems synonymous. Whereas Generation X and subsequent generation workers found themselves thrust into a changing job market environment where loyalty to an employer became secondary, conditional, or not at all. The burden of your career and employment future is your responsibility and not theirs.

The Business Week 65th anniversary issue summed up the following two important axioms to ensure your potential for being successful and staying gainfully employed. It is an easy path to settle in a work comfort zone, devoid of challenges. The first axiom, you must stay in tune with the business climate in your industry, as it changes constantly. New ways of doing business, new technology, new equipment, new hardware, new software, and a new mentality are all part of the business realm. Read up on periodicals, trade magazines, or the web, if you prefer. If you choose to ignore them, you will surely relegate yourself to being placed on the “chopping block” when the employer experiences a downturn or re-assesses economic operations for cost savings. If your resolute, try to understand and embrace the changes in a positive manner with constructive criticism. Even then, it is important to follow company protocol for submitting any concerns or grievances.

The second axiom, stay in tune with the business technology and this cannot be stressed enough in today’s rapidly changing market. For example, it is practically a prerequisite that new hires possess a fairly solid working knowledge in the use of Microsoft Office applications. If you’re still stumbling with Excel or Word, please take the time and effort to brush up on those skills. These two applications are fundamental for any type of administrative and managerial positions. It will pay off in more ways than you can imagine.

Confront your supervisor and request a meeting to discuss how you may improve your skills in your current position. Does the company offer in-house training for hardware/software? If so, sign up and take advantage of the free training. If you have a better idea or a more effective way of doing things, be prepared to back it up with facts and numbers that clearly illustrate cost effectiveness or savings to the company, the type of ammunition corporate management is accustomed to viewing. You may be pleasantly surprised by your superior’s response and furthermore, he may view it positively with your taking the initiative to improve yourself, and save the company money without being prodded.

Re-invent or create a new position within the company or department. You would be amazed at how something so simple is sometimes oblivious to upper management. They are often times preoccupied with their responsibilities and may not view it from your perspective or at their level. Perhaps your current responsibilities have increased to the point it warrants the creation of a new or more applicable job description.

You must accept and embrace the fact that the burden of ensuring your continuing employment is your responsibility and not the employer, and that means staying current with the business climate, technology, and training. Cheaper, better, faster with quality results is the byline for solid economics. Added value is another. It’s what you bring to the table that justifies your salary.

If you’re not content with your current employment position, please take a hard look at where you are with your career and ask yourself, “what can I do to ensure that my career going forward is challenging, successful, rewarding, and beneficial to both me as well as the company?” You have nothing to lose and perhaps both of you may have a lot to gain.