Friday, December 07, 2007

On Recruiting

Just sent off my first cover letter. Gulp. Typically in IM these things aren't due until early January, or at least late December, but this one was for the IM arm of a big bank and the banks like to do these things early. Since I didn't have it in me to focus on this before finals, I did a terrible job (as in none what so ever) of getting feedback/proof reading on it - hopefully it's ok. If not, well, life will go on ...

For those of you not yet up on the wonderful world that is recruiting in MBA land, the way it works, at least at the GSB, is that for firms recruiting on campus you send in a cover letter and resume for a specific job as posted on the "Job Placement System" (or PBS - we love the acronyms around here, RBS, PBS, GSB, GCB, DSAC, CWiB, IMG, VCPE or EVP ...). If the company likes you, they invite you to interview when they arrive on campus in the winter quarter. There are a limited number of interview slots (for the IM firms I'm seeing maybe 10-15) depending on the firm. If the firm is not duly impressed then you get the chance to bid points (it's all about auctions 'round here) for an even more limited number of open slots (maybe 5). The idea is that you try to impress the firm in person and on paper, but if that doesn't work you have a shot to still get in the door by overwhelming them with enthusiasm and blowing all your points to get a shot at the interview.

From what I hear, schmoozing is everything is in, say banking and perhaps consulting, but not really the deal clincher in IM, in fact not really that important at all some say. Many students seem to really hate the recruiting events ("networking") on campus, especially for something like IM for which personal impressions aren't going to really land you the job - if you can't pitch a stock successfully or speak convincingly about your understanding of the markets, your IM aspiring days are numbered. But in my mind, looking at the networking as a way to land a job is completely backwards (or avoiding "networking" in IM when it isn't likely to land you a job). The point of networking is for you to figure out whether you want to work at XYZ Capital Inc. and to write a convincing cover letter showing you have a clue about why XYZ is actually the right firm for you. I think the fact that IM recruiting is so amazingly competitive (in that there are 90 plus first years with amazing resumes hoping to land maybe ~50, if even, on campus listed internships with firms who are recruiting at other top MBA programs for the same positions) helps obscure the fact that you're going to be more successful if you pick the right employer and find a position you're really excited about. It's hard not to focus on how hard it is to get any job, therefore leading one to feel that being choosy is a foolish game and not worth entertaining.

But I am being choosy. I'm just not the sort of person who can tell 20 employers that working for them would be a dream come true and that they're my number one pick. Yeah, I know it's competitive out there and that I'm frankly only a sort of average candidate relative to my ridiculously accomplished peers but this is just the way that I work. And, I should mention, that there are plenty of off-campus opportunities to be had which don't require invites or points - it's just more work to go after those ones then to comb through the on-campus opportunities. I'm generally only applying to employers who operate in a region (west coast or NY) that I want to live in and/or are doing such interesting work that I'm willing to live somewhere other than those regions. I may have a different speech after I end up jobless and hopeless ... but for now, that's my take on things.

Oh, and while I'm dispensing unsolicited advice on my soapbox here, I want to mention that I have absolutely no qualms talking about the fact that I have a baby, if it comes up. And in fact, I've asked many, many recruiters about the firm policy/values around this issue this fall. I appreciate the progress we've made in giving women and mothers a more even playing field in the work place, facilitated by the don't ask/don't tell approach, but if we're going to achieve true happiness (for employers, for mothers, for fathers, for working non-parents) then we need to get to a point of real openness and honesty on this issue. If me having a child, and wanting more, is a problem for my employer, then we're not a good match. End of story. I got to this point in life with lots of careful planning and even more damn hard work - having a baby does not preclude me from as good or better an employee than many out there. (In fact, it pains me to even write that sentence as it seems so amazingly obvious.) But it does mean that I'm not going to be the right person for some employers. Though I have great childcare and spousal support, I need an employer who understands that work needs to have boundaries, who supports me working from home as needed and who would celebrate a future pregnancy with me. Parenthood, just like a same-sex partner, should not be a big secret. And once we can start talking about this, we can make it work better for everyone involved!

(i actually vacillate between the philosophy of discussing kids openly and the philosophy that it's none of the employers business, especially given the idea that it doesn't make you less employable, therefore not worth bringing up. however, the unavoidable fact is that having fantastic childcare doesn't change the fact that, unless you're adopting, it's only the mother that is going to be pregnant and give birth and get through the early newborn period and you need a firm that's going to stand by you during that time and not add stress to an already challenging time ... love to hear others' opinions on this. or am I just being paranoid ... perhaps this is just not a big deal any which way ...??) So much for a baby-free post.

1 comment:

Lisa F. said...

Maybe, I just found your blog. I'm in the MBA careers field and am really impressed with how you use the resources available to you, recognize their limitations and when you need to just go do something outside of formal GSB networking/resumes/bidding. And how is Mothers in Business going? A great idea.

Keep in mind that you can't go wrong in your job search: you are very talented, and the right firm will recognize that. Plus the first job out of business school isn't the last job you'll ever have: your talents are such that better and better opportunities will come to you throughout your life.

I'll keep an eye on you, and I wish you well.