MBA graduate job search: A step-by-step guide

SOURCE: Lassi Albin Viljakainen
Lassi Albin Viljakainen is a certified executive and MBA career coach.

By U2B Staff 

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If you are currently pursuing or planning to pursue an MBA qualification, then there is a strong chance that you will be joining a pool of job seekers, wide-eyed and ready to take on the job market after graduating. With COVID-19 and a lackluster job market outlook, this can be a rather critical time for you, and therefore knowing how to prepare for the job market and your job search is essential.

We caught up with Lassi Albin, a certified executive and career coach with over 2,000 coaching hours working with talent from more than 50 nationalities who has five tips for current MBA students.

His first sage advice for post MBA job seekers is, “Always play with the cards that we are dealt with. The world changes, you will need to change with it and find new opportunities.”

It is no doubt that COVID-19 has a strong impact on 2020 spring and summer MBA graduates. The effects of the pandemic will also be felt by the 2021 and beyond cohorts but by that time, the world and the job-market would have taken on a new shape.

These changes will bring about a new set of challenges peculiar to each cohort. In fact, the latter group of MBA graduates will need to develop an awareness of the changes that will shape the new target job-search baselines.

Essentially, MBA graduates should rethink about their target industries and sub-sectors and evaluate if these targets will remain strong or even grow post-COVID-19. Albin advises that you will need to evaluate if your target industry can survive another similar hit and identify the right situation to alter your baseline focus if the situation calls for it.


For instance, and as Albin says, “Your function might stay the same, but your industry might be too volatile in the new world.” In the face of this volatility, your job search will need to be handled with agility and flexibility, coupled with extensive research and sound insight.

He also recommends that MBA graduates should equip themselves with the right skills to land job roles in the new norm, “Become an expert in video meetings, create a “mini-studio” at home with professional backdrop and lighting. Upgrade your webcam to something external like Logitech 922. Practice video meetings with peers as this will make a massive difference when going to networking calls and interviews via video.”

Despite the tough job market, it is important for you as an MBA graduate to land a role that not only suits your career goals but also allows you to grow. Albin asserts that before you accept a job offer, you need to determine that your hiring manager is someone you can learn from. This step is essential in making sure that your new role will be beneficial to your overall career progress.

Albin is also a member of IESE Business School’s Executive coaching team and is a trainer at top business schools for communication skills, personal branding, and leadership. His background and experience range in Fortune 500 industry operations, headhunting, coaching, and corporate sales in over 10 countries across three continents.

Albin has also worked for some of the world’s top MBA schools and coached hundreds of talented students. His first-hand experience in dealing with the variety of processes and career advice available for MBA students has led him to develop a new online programme, the MBA Job Search.

A step-by-step guide for post-MBA job seekers

Post-MBA job seekers need to first understand that the MBA job market is busy, and it is those who stand out that seize the best opportunities that are available.

This method, he says has been executed by thousands of MBAs in the past and utilises best practices to maximise the use of time for activities that truly matter in the search. Albin recommends a succinct nine-step process to post MBA job seekers:

As a post MBA job-seeker, you will first need to undergo a process of self-discovery. Self-discovery is an important process to kick-start your job search and only upon truly understanding your own direction and path, will you be able to convince recruiters that you are truly the right person for the role.

Additionally, recruiters seek out candidates that are sure of their direction and desire to land the coveted role. Another important step is for you as a candidate to determine your baseline applying the three-target pillar strategy – geography, industry, and function.

These three decisions are crucial in helping you set your job-search direction. The next step is to create a target matrix and research the alumni and decision-makers which then should help you build your personal brand on various channels including LinkedIn. Your research in these areas should help you to decide on the right angles which will be beneficial as you build your resume and cover letter.


When all of this is complete, the next step is building your network through various channels. Albin recommends prioritising alumni members when building your personal network. All of these will help you, as a job seeker to apply for roles in a professional manner and with the right references, knowledge, and motivation, all of which will give you an edge.

Upon submitting your job applications, it is important to be meticulous with follow-ups to land interview opportunities. MBA job seekers need to apply the right communication skills and strong professionalism to build a positive impression that can help you stand out and get noticed.

Preparing for interviews is a crucial step, and Albin recommends that job seekers prepare for interviews by having mock sessions with peers. He also recommends that job seekers invest in preparatory courses from assessment centres.

Lastly, job seekers also need to learn salary negotiation skills. Albin recommends that job candidates need to first determine the salary range and negotiation limit and use this information to negotiate effectively.

Albin stresses that execution and networking are the most important parts of the process, and it takes considerable quality and attention to land desired roles.

This programme is designed to provide MBA students with the most effective career management plug-in that complements your MBA programme.