Archive for the MBS Careers Category

What does Australia know about the MBA?

Posted in MBS Careers with tags , , on July 22, 2009 by edcook

Yesterday I was speaking to a recruitment consultant about a role that I thought might be suitable for an MBA graduate from MBS.  The role involved giving advice to franchisees with regard to improving the performance of their franchise.

When I had finished explaining the background of MBS graduates the recruiter said “The MBA is by-the-by, what my client is really interested in is the person’s experience.”

This wasn’t the first time I’d heard this dismissive attitude towards a life-changing degree that I, along with several thousand other MBA students and alumni, have invested so much time in.  It was frustrating and disappointing – especially because I know first hand that the degree makes a huge difference to the overwhelming majority of students who study for it.

I think it’s fair to say that in Australia – and particularly compared to the United States – there is still a much lower level of awareness of the MBA.  I believe that this problem could potentially be overcome with greater collaboration between local business schools, increasing advertising, and alumni themselves helping to strengthen awareness of the degree through advocacy with colleagues, in the media and even, very simply, on their business cards.

Another challenge I think the MBA faces is that in Australia perceived high-achievers can be cut down to size, rather than encouraged or promoted.  We all know about the “Tall Poppy” syndrome, and I wonder whether this will hinder the country’s attempts to become the academic powerhouse of Asia?

Ultimately, the concern that experience is valued more than potential, might see talented Australians (and potential migrants) looking elsewhere for career advancement and growth opportunities.  None of us want this – it would be detrimental to the nation as a whole not just us, as MBA graduates.

I wonder how as a School, and as alumni, we can begin to grow awareness in Australia of just how powerful an MBA can be for us as individuals, for the organisations in which we work, and the communities in which we live?

I don’t have all the answers.

Perhaps you do.


Tips for using Linkedin, Xing etc to find a job in the current market.

Posted in MBS Careers with tags , , on April 30, 2009 by edcook

I’ve recently been speaking to a number of students that have expressed frustration with regards to their job search.  One in particular told me that he had applied to over 60 advertisements placed by Recruitment Consultants and had received a response from only 5 of them.  Not surprisingly he was still waiting to hear from these recruiters.  In my view relying on recruiters to find a job will prove to be extremely frustrating and more than likely fruitless.  I was speaking to another MBS alum the other day who reached the final cut for a CIO role.  He was told by the recruiter that 360 jobseekers had applied to the advert, the chances of making it to interview stage are remote.  So,  what are the alternative strategies?  I’m using professional networking sites more and more in my job.  Used properly, I believe these are the most powerful tools for building a network that will lead to opportunities in the future.  Also, rather than paying contingent recruiters to place an advert online, more hiring managers are now searching Linkedin for profiles first, if you don’t have a good one, they won’t find you.  Here are some tips for getting the most out of the wide range of networking sites:

  • Make sure your profile looks professional.  The summary needs to clearly articulate your key strengths and what you are looking for.  Professional photograph, not one of you at the pub with friends.  Brief descriptions of where you’ve worked (in the employment sections) and key achievements.  If you do a Google search (e.g Linkedin profile suggestions) there are plenty of websites giving advice on the ideal profile.  Make sure you have plenty of relevant keywords which will come up in a search.
  • Get recommended,  if you have worked or studied with someone, ask them if they would recommend you.  Your profile will move higher up search results and you come across as a credible professional.
  • Personalise the link to your Linkedin profile and use it.  On your profile page, look for the “Public profile” section, click edit and change the number to something more personal eg. a standard link would look like this and a personalised one would look like this  Once you have done this add it to your e-mail signature, when you e-mail someone asking for advice, if they want to know more about you they can have a look at your profile.  This is far more subtle than attaching your CV to every e-mail you send out.  You can see how effective your profile is by how many people view it or how many searches you come up in (home page right hand side).
  • Let other users see that you have looked at their profile.  This is something I have only recently changed, in my view you want people to look at your profile, on the “Home” page you can see who has looked at your profile, most of these are vague i.e “An MBA student from Melbourne Business School” .  If you are searching for possible contacts if you change your privacy settings (Account & Settings > Profile views> Show my name and headline) they can see you have looked at their profile and are more likely to have a look at your profile.  If they are impressed they might make contact.
  • Join groups – If you join relevant groups, you can send messages to other group members for free.  You can also carry out targeted searches of people with similar interests of backgrounds.
  • Consider upgrading your account – Especially if you are actively looking for a job, it costs US$ 25 a month, but means you can contact other Linkedin members directly if they are out of your network (using an Inmail)
  • Use other sites –  Linkedin is great if you are based in the US, UK or Australia.  If you want to build a network in Europe, it would be worth looking at other websites like Xing. Setting up a profile is easy, just copy and paste the information from your Linkedin profile.  Other sites like Ecademy might also be useful, experiment.
  • Give advice as well as ask for it – Make sure you respond to people asking for your advice.  Also, browse the “Answers” section and provide comments and suggestions to people asking questions.  This will help promote your profile.
  • Use tools like Twitter – More recruiters are using Twitter to promote opportunities they have, set up #tag searches so you can identify these opportunities.  I’ve started tweeting any new jobs MBS students from @MBSCareers

Please add any comments to this blog, especially if you have a success story to share or any other suggestions.  I better practice what I preach, here’s a link to my Linkedin profile if I’m not connected to you already and you’d like to connect, please send me an invitation mentioning you’ve read this blog.

The positives and negatives of being an MBS Staff member and a student.

Posted in MBS Careers on March 4, 2009 by edcook

When I tell people that in addition to working in the Careers Centre, I’m also a student, I generally get mixed reactions. Full-time students generally view part-time students with a certain amount of pity, having to manage a job, study and keep a wife/partner happy whilst you dedicate a large part of your life to MBA study. Whilst it is financially easier to study an MBA part-time there are also quite a few downsides. The study experience a full-time student gains is far richer, the ability to discuss, debate and carry out further research around a topic of interest, enables full-time students to do more than just scratch the surface.  Part-time students have to try and squeeze in reading and lecture preparation, fulfilling the minimum criteria of not appearing an idiot if asked a question in a lecture.

So what are the positives and negatives associated with my dual role at MBS:


  • I understand what students go through whilst studying for an MBA, I was after all a student before I became a member of staff.
  • I don’t have to travel far to get to a lecture.
  • I know the full-time cohort as well as part-time students
  • I get to now the academics as colleagues as well as teachers
  • I get to see and hear how decisions made by the school affect the student body
  • I have a pretty nice office at the school which I can use for study at the weekends
  • I get to do the MBA for free
  • I get to build a great network as part of my job.


  • I have to maintain a neutral position when students start complaining to me, some of my part-time colleagues find this frustrating, “Ed you’re agreeing with everything MBS is doing!”
  • Full-time students view me as a member of staff, part-time ones view me as a student.
  • I spend a lot of time advising students on their future career, I am still not sure what the future holds for me!
  • If I talk to Full-time students generally the conversation revolves around careers and the job market.

All in all, I think I have a pretty good deal!

Employment prospects for an MBA graduate.

Posted in MBS Careers on March 3, 2009 by edcook

A few months ago I was relatively optimistic that the jobs market in Australia was adequately insulated from the economic turmoil in the US and the UK.  This unfortunately appears not to be the case, for a job seeker the financial press makes for depressing reading.  There appear to be two approaches taken by employers in the current market, either forced redundancies due to the loss of projects or the inability of clients to pay for already completed work, this has been apparent in the property market with architecture firms and construction firms facing a pipeline of work that has disappeared.  As staff are generally hired for specific projects, when a project is shelved, the staff assigned to that specific project are let go too.  Other employers are adopting the “wait and see” approach, waiting until they see whether the economy either continues to decline,  or the various stimulus packages start to have a positive effect, this is when they will start to consider hiring again.

Faced with this gloomy outlook, in complete contrast to the MBA graduates of 2008, the current class is faced with a number of options.

  • Continue to study – not appealing when they have already racked up large debts as a result of studying an MBA, but better than doing nothing.
  • Market themselves as a freelance consultant, looking for work on a contract basis, this will generally have to be in an industry similar to their pre-MBA.  Spending on external contractors increases as prolonged “permanent headcount freezes” are maintained.  As with the consulting firms, the focus of assignments has shifted from profit maximisation or new market entry to cost reduction or process improvement.
  • Take a more entrepreneurial approach and work with fellow students to identify and establish a new venture. Whilst this might not generate an immediate cash flow, by the time the research and planning stage has been completed credit is likely to be more readily available.
  • Look at overseas opportunities – consider countries that will benefit from continued infrastructure investment from the likes of the World Bank or Ausaid, i.e Vietnam
  • Consider opportunities in the public sector – reading the AFR, the number of government jobs advertised appears to be increasing, this could just be in contrast to the declining number of private sector jobs.
  • Study at PhD – focussing on an area that is in vogue with businesses leaders will help in securing work post study.

Over the past few weeks I have been speaking to many MBS Alumni, there are opportunities available, however, identifying them involves a lot more research than just using the online job boards on a daily basis. Tools such as Linkedin  make the search process much easier. Not only will this focus on building a network pay dividends in the short term,  a mutually beneficial network, that is proactively maintained will improve career prospects in the long term.