I got my MBA and all I have to show for it is a pocket sized diploma
July 23, 2012 3:58 PM   Subscribe

I got my MBA, and moved from the suburbs to the city -- why can't I find a job to apply for? And those I do, no interview.

Some backstory -- typical, I guess. I got my B.A. 10 years ago with excellent grades from a decent school (Rutgers). About 2 months after graduation, I took an Inside Sales job at a local company (that really wasn't sales -- more customer service).

After moving from NJ to PA with my boyfriend (now, husband), I ended up in a more traditional inside sales Account Management job where I did pretty well, but hated. I hated pushing products, I hated the end of the month pressure, and the managers who thought Glengarry Glen Ross was inspirational. I worked for a major commercial credit reporting company, working with small businesses (usually owners and finance people). I liked being helpful to my customers, I liked problem solving, and I also liked helping my coworkers navigate our very complicated compensation program (which meant tinkering in spreadsheets).

I thought about going back to school to be a teacher, but didn't think I could find a job as a social studies teacher, so I went back to school for my MBA, starting part-time, and then switching to full-time as a TA. I have no student loan debt. I concentrated in corporate finance -- I liked the analytical side of it, tinkering with spreadsheets, doing analysis, etc. I also really enjoyed teaching which I did for classes that were outside of my concentration -- Organization Management the first year, and Supply Chain Operations Management the second year.

In my last semester of school, my husband got a new job which facilitated a move from Allentown, PA to Austin, TX which was AWESOME. I arrived in May, and have been job hunting and there are lots of jobs, but I'm floundering. I don't know what I'm qualified for now, I don't really know how to do resume/cover letter/interview stuff. I have applied and interviewed for exactly 3 jobs, of which I got all 3, and sales interviews are different - they are more personality based. They were all entry level positions.

I applied for one job at my husband's company -- as a University Relations Representative which seemed like it would be interesting for me. The hiring manager called my husband (who submitted me internally, and said I was overqualified and would be bored). I've thought about going back to school -- either PhD or for teaching, but I don't want to keep using school to delay working which is what I think I did with the MBA. I don't need to be in a high level position, or make the money I was making before (low six figures). I'd be happy with 35-50K and the chance to enjoy the Austin lifestyle, and not be a workaholic. I am an overachiever, and I know that I can learn to do most anything fairly quickly. I've excelled at every job I've had, and I have good verbal and quantitative skills.

Sorry for the novel, but I really don't know how to approach this job search when I all I really know is that I want to do something different.

Thanks in advance for your help. I'd be happy to post my (altered) resume if that would help people.
posted by hrj to Work & Money (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Sorry if this is obtuse, but what's the question here? Do you want to know how to find more job listings? Or interview advice? Or ideas on what else you could do for a career?
posted by lunasol at 4:02 PM on July 23, 2012

I don't know what I'm qualified for now, I don't really know how to do resume/cover letter/interview stuff.

Are you saying you haven't figured out what you want to use your MBA for, or that you don't know how to write cover letters and resumes?

Maybe you could spring for a career coach or chat w/ a career counselor or prof from your MBA program?
posted by discopolo at 4:14 PM on July 23, 2012

Forget about the MBA and just apply for whatever jobs you want. MBAs are a dime a dozen. Unless it is from Harvard, Wharton, etc. it really doesn't mean that much, especially in this economy. Your experience is what will get you a job - so sales is your best option. There are plenty of tech sales jobs in Austin. They can require you to think a lot more - applying technology to help solve problems for your customers.
posted by COD at 4:16 PM on July 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

The problem is that my MBA seems to be a hinderance. I wanted to change careers -- get as far away from sales as possible, and now when I apply for entry level jobs, I'm overqualified because I have a Master's degree. But I don't have enough experience for any job that is at a master's level.

I find lots of job listings, and they are really overwhelming. I just don't know how to use my experience and my skill set for something that doesn't make me hate my life. When I was in sales, I spent almost every night in tears. I hated feeling like I was trying to get my customer's to spend more than they could, I am not motivated by money at all. I was in telesales, and I don't really like the phone. It was a really miserable time for me, and I would not like to go back to it. I had one outside sales job and it was terrible. Only job I stayed at less than 6 months. All of my managers (at multiple companies) have been terrible, and made you feel incompetent, like a scolded child and stupid, except one -- my mentor, and he wasn't fit for sales either and was let go.

Lunasol - I guess more how to know if I'm qualified for a job. I spend hours looking at postings, and I never meet the criteria. I'm a smart, accomplished 31 year old woman -- I don't really understand why this is so hard.

Discopolo- Probably both. I've considered a career coach but I don't really know how that works. My MBA program was regional (Lehigh University). I had thought when I started I would stay in the area, and they could have gotten me a corporate finance job. They don't have much reach outside the NYC metro area.

COD - I've seen postings for technology sales, but I don't have any technology experience really -- a lot of the jobs I've seen want engineering degrees.
posted by hrj at 4:42 PM on July 23, 2012

Try sending out your resume without the MBA. I did this with great success. During the interview, I mentioned that I had a grad degree, but that it wasn't particularly applicable to the job. Went from scrounging to having 3 offers.
posted by Nickel Pickle at 4:49 PM on July 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

Because there are millions of smart, accomplished 31 year olds who have more experience, are more motivated and are better qualified at some of the jobs you're applying to.

Think of the greatest value you bring to the potential employer and start with that as your qualifying basis for each job that comes before your eyes. Learn to walk away from those that don't match the top 3 requirements of the job you're considering applying to.

Hint : your greatest contribution is not your intelligence or your accomplishment up to this point in your life.

Finally, after years of school, degrees, accomplishments and success, it easy to fall into the trap of "Why wont they hire me for this job that I am in essence, lowering myself to do?" The job market absolutely does not work that way, and employers do not hire those with that mindset.
posted by Kruger5 at 5:01 PM on July 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

You'll be overworked at first for sure, but try for a company that does business/strategy consulting. They love newly-minted MBAs, and the smaller ones won't be as picky about the school you got yours from (the big guys like Harvard and the like).

Once you have a year or so of that experience, you'll see more doors opening up to you.
posted by xingcat at 5:03 PM on July 23, 2012

Hey OP, I'm going to give a stab at what I think your question is answer from that perspective. Now I think that you question(s) are: How do you find what job you want to do with your given skill sets and how do you apply for jobs (interviews, resumes/CVs, etc.)? If it helps, I had a similar first ask meta (I have a background in X, what in the hell else can I do?)

Anyway, this is what I learned along the way, which I think will also apply to you. I'm going to link to previous answers since I answer version of this question frequently:

• Make a very clear list of what you want to do and not do (pick the top 2 or 3 things that you want to do at your job and pick deal breakers- it sounds like you are part way there with the sales comment).

• I think what would really, really help you are conducting info interviews. As I mentioned, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my skill set other I didn't want to do job X and job Y. So I did brainstorming, but more importantly, I identified a few broad categories (it sounds like you have too, business?) With the info interviews, you find people who work at job Z and can ask things like 1) what you do at a typical day, 2) what you like/disklike (ask about your dealbreakers)....these initial questions are just to find out if you should apply for jobs with the title "business development", for example. Even if it is not a good fit, they may have recommendations for other job titles. The next part (and it can part of the same or a different info interview), you learn from these people who have your dream job how to get there. Ask them for different job titles to look for. Ask if they use recruiters/headhunters. Also, this was key for me getting in the door at some companies: ask them to review your resume/CV.These really vary by industry.If I listened to ask meta job advice or even those "find a job" books, I would have been in trouble because in my industry they really wanted several page CVs and the only way to find this out was to ask people who were already in the field. Also, they may tell you key words that HR people look for. I'm going to link other discussions that I've written before as to how to do this because I don't want to type it all again,take what applies to you from those questions: info interviews

• Try to use linkedin (this varies by industry). In my field, VPs to headhunters look for people to do projects (fulltime or as consultants). What I would do is identify the skills that you want to use,projects that you have done, and list them in your linkedin profile(I'm being serious, it should be detailed). If youdon't want to do sales, do not mention it (I know this sounds crazy,but I don't want to do certain things either --I only list what I want to do...saves time for everyone). Also, the hope for this is that you attract head hunters/recruiters. Believe it or not, some will review your resume/CV and give recommendations. There is no guarantee that using linkedin will or will not work for you, but just spend 30 minutes filling out the info and give it a go.

• Don't.eliminate.yourself.from. the.job. Again,please don't eliminate yourself from the job. So the job says"2 years experience" and you think- well, I have everything else, not this, so I won't apply. To be honest, I found out in my industry that they typically said 2 years experience for intro level jobs...no one ever had it, but they were trying for the best. If you do want technology business jobs,for example, talk to someone who does what you want to do...you would be surprised (i.e. I found out that for my field I mainly needed to take an hour long writing test....no "prior experience")-- but you won't know until you start applying and talking to people who do these jobs.Or maybe someone who does what you want to do will tell you about other back ways into the job (e.g. take a class, learn Y on your own, pass a test)-- please have this come from people who do whatyou want to do and got there, not some career whisperer who probably does not know what you need to do for all 100000 types of jobs in the US. I'm also typing another point because someone will come in here and say it "it's the economy!" ....you need one job. Not 50. Some of the decision to hire may come from someone meeting you or really wanting to hire an MBA, we don't know what it will be.

• As I reread your question and comment, I've seen this a few times in ask meta. I believe your masters and skill sets are relevant. AGain, talk to people who do what you want to do and find out how it is relevant. Then go to the job interview and when they say we need skill set A, B, C, you connect the dots and point out how your background is connected. You find out the details and make a complete story. Also, I've been surprised...some companies make a big deal as to whether person X, Y, or Z has a masters in whatever field, etc., and they use it as a selling point to their clients.

Also, you may think that I'm a nut...but if you have business skills and it sounds like you are honest and driven by helping (not the selling), you may want to see if you can start a small business and help other small business owners. Create the job that you want. You may find that you don't need to work as many hours as you would at a full-time job, you can only take the projects that you want, although it can cause anxiety.

Feel free to memail me if you want other suggestions/feedback for a job search. I learned some of this the hard way, and other people gave me feedback and help along the way. Good luck.

posted by Wolfster at 5:19 PM on July 23, 2012 [6 favorites]

You're a mid-career professional. It's going to take a little longer to find a job that's the right fit (probably six months, at least) so don't give up.

You need to figure out what you want to do, but with an MBA and an eye for finance, perhaps you could do project management.

The big thing is, just use the want ads for research about what people are looking for - don't actually bother submitting a resume. Huge waste of time.

Instead, figure out what you want to do (quickly), and start cold-calling places you want to work. Attend networking events. Make 5 phone calls a day, pretty soon things will start to happen.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:46 PM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

-- Nickel Pickle -- I've considered this, but I'm concerned in how to explain my gap in employment and besides, my time as a teaching assistant is the only job I've ever enjoyed.

--Kruger5-- I'm not trying to seem entitled. I am trying to get an entry-level job. I feel like I do have more to offer than someone with zero experience in a work environment. I went to college for something I loved (history) and received zero support in figuring out how to make a living. So I took a job in sales. So when I went to graduate school, I thought doing something more "practical" would make it easier to get a job, and would give me a chance to start over, and "reset" so to speak so I could get into a field that suited me better.

--Xingcat -- I'm kind of wary of being surrounded by MBAs. I did so much of that in grad school and didn't fit in. I'm also not sure how to search for these types of jobs, but I do see how they would be interesting. My school did have a good relationship with PwC, but I don't think they have consultants in this market.

--Wolfster- thanks. That is a lot to think about. I'm not 100% sure what I want to do, I guess I don't know what I can do. I'm in a new city with no contacts and I don't really know anyone other than my husband, so I'm not sure how to get all of the info. I've thought about starting my own business, but I don't think I know enough.

When I think about what I like it is the following:


I've thought about blogging or freelance writing, but I don't really know how to make money at that and I know it is really hard, and other alternatives to working as I like the idea of a more flexible work environment. I really don't want to be on a headset in a cube again. If I am in a cube, I really want a job where I can just come in and do my work, and then go home. I'm willing to work really hard if it is something I enjoy and get value out of.
posted by hrj at 5:54 PM on July 23, 2012

KokuRyu -- how does cold calling business work? I mean I've done it (although I didn't really do that type of sales), but not in this context.

In fact, some of my confusion is that I've never really looked for a job before. I had posted my resume on the web, and they came to me all 3 times.
posted by hrj at 5:56 PM on July 23, 2012

I also should mention that I do have some Target companies, but they aren't currently hiring for roles I think I would fit.
posted by hrj at 6:16 PM on July 23, 2012

Five hundred bucks will get you eight sessions with a career coach, who will go over your history and experience, tune up your resume, practice interviewing with you, and tell you honestly how you stack up. It's worth it.
posted by Sallyfur at 3:27 AM on July 24, 2012

check your me-mail!
posted by sestaaak at 6:57 AM on July 24, 2012

I think going through the book What Color Is My Parachute, doing the exercises and such, will help you move forward and figure out which jobs you should seek given your interests and experience.
posted by The Biggest Dreamer at 9:54 AM on July 24, 2012

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