Working the MBA Alumni Network |

Working the MBA Alumni Network

By QS Contributor

Updated August 27, 2014 Updated August 27, 2014

Successful networking with MBA alumni can bring a whole new range of opportunities your way. 

Job survey statistics vary from country to country but many researchers report that upwards of 60% of all jobs are found through networking. The interesting part is that a massive amount of available job positions go unadvertised, as they are filled strictly through networking opportunities, as opposed to online or print adverts. In the MBA arena, where competition is immense, many students or recent graduates are realizing that without networking, job prospects appear scarce and difficult to examine. So where can you start? Alumni networks.

Alumni networks open doors you didn't know existed. Just because you finished your MBA studies doesn't mean you have to abandon all ties to your business school. Peter Fennah, Director of Career Development at Cranfield explains, '78% of Cranfield MBA students gain their jobs through networking, but 100% of students collect information on the informal and implicit priorities of work through speaking with alumni. The effectiveness of alumni at sharing industry and company insights is essential if you are seeking to change sector, function, company and country. Alumni have been in your position and fully appreciate the questions that you need to ask to make an effective transition. In short, they are lifeboats there to aid you through the stormy recruitment seas! 

But don't just join any old alumni network, "choose the one that best serves your purpose," says Chiara Viani, alum of Cass Business School. "For example, Cass Women in Business focuses its efforts on promoting the female talent pool within the business school and has special links with the financial industry in the City, whereas Cass Entrepreneurs Network introduces its members to conferences and talks on current issues affecting the entrepreneurial world." Connecting with alumni can prove easier and more effective than say, trying to meet that friend of a friend. If an employee of a company you want to join is an alum of your programme and you connect with this person, her company may take into account the positive experience they've received from hiring from your programme.

Once you get your foot in the door, request "informational meetings" if you haven't been offered a formal interview. This can help you meet the right influential people, and more importantly, help you to determine whether a company is really right for you. Simply making an effort to talk with a variety of people in the industry you are seeking to work within is the main stride to take, and alumni can point you in this direction. Peter Fennah provides tips to ensure successful usage of alumni networks: "overcome your anxieties and get chatting to alumni. If very nervous, get your careers department, faculty or friends to warm up your contacts and help you to speak with alumni; be professional in your approach and if you ask for 15 minutes of their time stick to this; ask for careers advice and information rather than asking for jobs."

What shouldn't you do? Fennah explains that "alumni talk to one another just like you do within your year so if you are particularly unprofessional in your approach then they may pass this onto others and until you change your approach you could meet a lack of response to your emails." The important thing to remember is that while you may not land the perfect job right away, networking is an excellent way to get your foot in the door and be noticed. Alumni networks simply speed up this process. Just be sure to do your research ahead of time so you know what you're talking about - whether it be regarding a specific industry or targeted company. And be patient. It's likely that a few months after meeting someone, that person or her contact may remember your job search if reminded by a lead, and if you've done your research and made the right impression, you will be remembered and possibly nominated.

This article was originally published in November 2012 . It was last updated in August 2014

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