5 Ways to Stand Out in a Competitive Job Market

Distinguishing yourself from other applicants  is crucial in a competitive, post-MBA job market. Accenture recruiter Katherine LaVelle recently shared with Bloomberg Businessweek some of the characteristics she’s looking for in new hires. It doesn’t matter where you plan on working after b-school; if you’re not already cultivating these aspects of your personal and professional profile, now’s the time to begin.

1. Take advantage of change. LaVelle notes that today’s companies need business school graduates who can help them adapt in this age of digital and market transformation. IT is now essential to every role, she says.

2. Think globally. Cross-cultural awareness is mandatory these days, and all of the elite business schools include opportunities to participate in projects abroad. LaVelle looks for such experience in applicants, and says, “If they can’t complete a global assignment, they must at least show an interest in—and knowledge of—the global landscape.”

3. Never stop learning. The business landscape has undergone dramatic changes in the last decade, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Staying abreast of the latest developments in your field is critical for success, so take advantage of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) at the top business schools, as well as any training opportunities your employer may offer.

“I value intellectual curiosity,” says LaVelle. “Applicants who pursue training programs or other education opportunities show that they’re committed to learning new skills and growing as professionals.”

4. Grow your network. Making meaningful professional connections can create as much value for you as your MBA degree. Many new businesses start as a result of a current professional connection, so seek out mentors, groom your relationships, and become a resources for others as well.

“I found it helpful to join a broad range of organizations at first–including groups that focused on capital markets, women in business, and everything in between–before narrowing my involvement, once I had a better sense of where I wanted to specialize, ” LaVelle explains.

5. Know what you want. While an MBA program will expand your horizons and open doors you never considered, having a clearly formulated goal is integral to success. Some flexibility is fine, as long as there’s a common thread linking what you’ve done so far with what you plan to do post-MBA.

Life may throw you several curve balls along the way, but a clearly thought-out career map will get you to your goals despite any roadblocks that crop up. As LaVelle notes, your career should tell a complete story and lead you to a clear destination–one that you have aspired to and believe is the best fit for your professional and personal life.


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