Career Search Q&A with former Associate Director at Fuqua’s Career Management Center

August 11, 2015 | by Matt Symonds

We are pleased to introduce a new expert coach at Fortuna Admissions, Catherine Tuttle. Catherine worked at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business for five years in marketing and career services roles. She has also worked at North Carolina State University providing career coaching and resume development services for alumni of the University. In addition, Catherine runs her own resume-writing business where she helps clients develop strategic resumes that speak to the jobs they want, not the jobs that they’ve had.

We asked Catherine for her advice on several career-related topics and we’re pleased to share some highlights of our recent discussion.

When should MBA applicants start their job search process?

Candidates should start the process EARLY. Before they even start business school they should spend time thinking about their values and motivators, their strengths and weaknesses, their career goals, and ultimately how they want to reinvent themselves professionally. The vast majority of business school students are looking to make a career change but that change doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, so think of your pre-MBA time as ‘training’.

Also, to help create a clear picture of what their post-MBA career will look like, candidates should start talking to people who have run the race ahead of them. For example, if you work at a company like Accenture, you have access to a huge professional network of MBA graduates. Reach out to current and former co-workers to seek their advice and ask about how their MBA enabled their career progression. LinkedIn is also a great tool. Search for people who have the types of jobs you’re interested in. Reach out to find out more about what these jobs entail so that you have a better understanding of the skills necessary to succeed.

As soon as school starts, students will have a lot going on between classes, clubs, and companies coming on campus to network. Students who have done some of their research in advance will have a distinct advantage.

Can you share some networking tips for MBA students?

MBA students at top programs gain access to an incredible school network that extends beyond the students in their class. From day one new MBAs can begin getting to know their classmates and professors both inside and outside of the classroom. Students should take advantage of these opportunities offered through clubs, school-sponsored events, and other campus organizations. In addition, full-time MBA students should realize that their network goes beyond the full-time MBA program. Engaging with executive MBA and part-time MBA students can be an added bonus as these students are currently working for companies that value MBAs. 

What are some of the common characteristics of MBA students who are most successful with the job search process?

In my experience, the students who were most successful in receiving job offers were those who started networking early on in the process. They were also engaged with the career center and took advantage of workshops, networking opportunities and career counseling/coaching. These things helped them process the sometimes overwhelming number of opportunities and become more adaptable whether that meant adjusting their job search strategy or pursuing different job functions or companies.

Successful students were also not afraid to fail. They had the confidence to reach out to many people and even if they sent emails and did not get responses from some contacts, they continued reaching out to others and were not deterred. Successful candidates understand that they need to be persistent and not give up.

What are recruiters looking for in MBA candidates?

Depending on the job function and industry, recruiters will be looking for specific skills and personal attributes, but almost all recruiters look for a genuine interest in the type of job that they are recruiting for and the company for which they are recruiting. Recruiters want to know why a job applicant is a good fit for the particular job so it’s important that the applicant articulates this clearly. if two applicants are equally qualified for a role, the recruiter will likely select the individual who comes across as more passionate about the role and company.

Can you share a few resume-writing tips?

When writing your resume, it’s important that you tailor it to the positions to which you are applying and not just write a resume listing everything you’ve done in the past. Think about what skills and prior experiences will be particularly relevant to the jobs to which you are applying and make sure that you include these in your resume.

It’s also important that you include specific details rather than just list responsibilities. The detail is what adds credibility. If you managed a budget for example, you can include the size of the budget and how you managed it. Did you track spending? Forecast revenue or recommend cost reductions?

And finally, it’s important to not only highlight your actions but also showcase positive results. For example, articulating that you managed an advertising campaign that increased product revenues by 20% is more impactful than saying you were responsible for an advertising campaign. Whenever possible, quantify your results.



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