Showing posts with label career. Show all posts
Showing posts with label career. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Recruiting thoughts from midway through

Recruiting is still going full steam on campus at the moment with new job postings and seminars, but it's become a more diversified offering.  the first couple months were heavily dominated by banks and management consulting firms, very big companies and the like.  These offerings employ about half of a typical MBA class.  The i-bank and consulting interview process is fast and time consuming.  Back to back to back interviews weren't uncommon and if you made it through that you were in for more of the same at their office in a "super day".  They may have been miserable going through it but that half is now in one of three camps:

1.) They got an offer and accepted it. Good and thankfully common.  The hiring market for internships this year seems to be a-okay, knock on wood.
2.) They got multiple offers and are debating between them.  Very good.
3.) They got no offers are in panic mode.  Very bad but also very rare.

There are a lot more non-profits, healthcare companies, tech startups and more around these days. Many people are looking beyond even that and leveraging their networks and the school's to find niche positions in an industry of interest.  This approach is a lot of work but yields some of the most rewarding and exciting opportunities.  Of course while you're doing it you're totally envious of your consulting friends who have their internship in the bag and are spending their free time having fun but come summer they're the ones who will likely be jealous. 

The light at the end of the tunnel can now be seen and it will be so good when it's all over. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Thinking about location

At my business school, and I'm sure the rest of them out there, there are two particularly hot locations: San Francisco and New York. New York is a perennial favorite with MBAs and fortunately it has a plethora of banking jobs, a few consulting jobs and more to support them.  San Fran is close to Silicon Valley which is of renewed interest to MBAs these days.  Facebook and Google are two of the more coveted employers on campus.  San Fran also has a variety of other jobs in health care, consulting, finance and more - a more diversified location than New York.  Students who have a target location (particularly New Yorkers) talk about it frequently.  Asking about who's there or what their chances are or how to network better for the location.

But allow me to let you in on a little secret that MBAs don't talk about much.  Those locations and the others that business school students love, like London, Hong Kong, Boston or LA, are incredibly expensive.  You knew that.  High cost of living is no secret and people like to complain in that masochistic way about the price of rent or a meal out while saying there's no way they could live anywhere else.  However, the pay doesn't really change if you're in New York or in Detroit.  Think about that for a second.  Housing in particular is apt.  You know how far $150,000 doesn't go in New York and you know exactly how far it does go in Detroit.

It's common for pay not to fully adjust based on cost of living.  That's true across industries.  But many companies hiring MBAs specifically pay the same across all locations.  Consulting firms are a good example of this.  I've heard of a couple that have a policy of standard salaries across US locations.  The consultants in New York dream of buying condos while those in Dallas have a few acres and a pool.

The evenness of pay is partly an equality issue for companies with multiple locations but there's also a supply and demand issue at play.  Companies or branches in Detroit or Dallas know that to get top talent beyond the few people who have family in the area they will have to give an offer that is in the absolute sense comparable to a New York offer.  This then gives them a relative advantage over the more coveted cities after cost of living is factored in.

It's easier to get a job in a non-trendy city.  I can't tell you how hard Bain Texas, McKinsey Dallas, or Goldman's private wealth offices in Miami or Houston have been recruiting on campus.  McKinsey Dallas sent messages to anyone on campus who in some way was from Texas, whether they were interested in finance, marketing or anything else.  Target, in Minneapolis, is ambivalent about recruiting at top schools since their yield from interns to full time is so low - they can't convince anyone to live in their city long term.  The number of people who show up to a hedge fund's recruiting session who has offices in New York, San Fran and London versus one that's based out of Houston or another location in the South, is striking.

So if it's easier to get a job in a non-trendy location and you have much better standard of living once you land it, what's the catch?

  1. You have to convince the company that you're actually interested in them and their location.  These guys know they're underdogs in recruiting and they really want to separate those who are really interested, who will definitely take an offer if it's given to them, and those who are using them as a safety for when their applications to other places come through.  So make sure you have a good story to tell and do your research - you need to be in that first bucket for the odds to be better than average.
  2. You have to actually work for that company at that location.  This sounds stupid but for there to really be any value to taking an offer with a non-trendy company in a non-trendy location you have to be happy about it or at least okay with it.  Otherwise you'll just be miserable and bemoaning your awful life in boring, backwater Atlanta while you're friends are having a great time paying $20 per drink in New York.
For many business school students these two factors are actually prohibitive.  These are kids who have honed for decades their drive to be the "best", to go to the best schools, jobs, and so on.  It creates a powerful, self-reinforcing form of group think.  Because New York is where everyone says the action is, everyone wants a job in New York.

So you end up as one of over a hundred MBAs applying for one of four slots at every company in your target industry in either NYC or SF.  You fill out numerous applications because your shots of success with any one company are so low.  But each application you submit is lower quality because you don't have the time to devote to each, same for the interviews.  You end up exhausted, stressed and pressed to find differences in any of the opportunities you get because you haven't had time to get to know the company or its work.

Let me just say, if you can do it wholeheartedly, this is one area where it really pays to buck the trend.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Recruiting season

Recruiting season is in full swing here for summer internships and it packs a wallop.  I might not have dinner at home all week between company dinners, evening receptions, happy hours and so on.  It's incredible the amount of money companies put into this.  Reserving a space to host, paying fees to the university to do on campus recruiting, promotional materials, wining and dining students PLUS all the productive time they are losing from the people who attend these events. 

Call me cynical but I think there are a few reasons companies do this:
  • Some companies truly want to find the right people for their organization
  • Others want to compete for the most prestigious/smart talent
  • Recruiting at prestigious schools and wining and dining supports your brand - even if a student doesn't want to work at McKinsey they might hire them as consultants later on.  Similarly, you might not want to work for Goldman Sachs or JP Morgan but your peers will tell you about their private banking services.  The networking is not just student to company but company to student.
  • Everybody else is doing it - I imagine some companies fall into this trap just like students do
  • On campus recruiting can be a cattle drive - if you need warm bodies pre-screened for a solid degree of intelligence and drive come to campus and bag 'em early and often.
Although I know people are incredibly important to an organization, I don't know if this level of effort and outreach, particularly in this manner, is effective at reaching and attracting the people these companies actually want.  Surely there is plenty of noise lumped in as well - many people go to information sessions not knowing if that company is right for them, the industry/role is a good fit or even what the company does.  It seems like word of mouth recruiting and referrals from those inside the company would be much more effective.  But I imagine that a system like that doesn't scale well when you're the size of Microsoft or  Exxon or Morgan Stanley.

Tonight I'm going to a dinner hosted by a name brand company I'm not sure I want to work for.  It's at a steakhouse near my home and hosting is costing the company over $125 per head plus alcohol.  While it's nice to be wined and dined I'm sure I'm not going to get $125 of utility from that meal and a seated dinner may not be the best venue for me to learn more about the company and vice versa.  What does it say about that company that they are recruiting this way?  Is it a meaningful data point since this behavior is a cultural norm?

How does hiring work at your organization? Is it effective?

PS - How can I tell if a company will be a really good place to work?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dress to impress gone too far?

We've all been told the advice of dressing for the job you want instead of the job you have.  But is it possible to take this advice too far?  Many career websites will suggest dressing like your boss or two steps above your position and mimicking the dress code of the office as a whole, but what happens when you exceed that dress code?

Let me lay out a situation.  At one or two of the offices I've worked in I've found, very unscientifically, that the assistants and secretaries dress much nicer than their bosses do.  These people are mostly young and women and come into work dressed professionally, but much more fashionably and a little more formal than their bosses.  Outfits might be a matching suit with heels, jewlery and make up or a skirt and heels outfit that looks like it might be out of a fashion magazine.  Their bosses wear dress shirts and slacks mostly and the clothes are older, more conservative, less stylish, and less likely to perfectly match.  The managers are also less likely to wear make up and jewelery. There are female and male managers and the trend seems to hold true for both.

I have a few ideas on why this might be that are complete conjecture:
  1. The assistants have heard the advice to dress your best at work 
  2. The assistants have more recently entered the workforce and as such have purchased more modern and new clothes
  3. The assistants have more time to shop than the managers do
  4. Managers feel more secure in their positions so they don't spend as much time on appearances
  5. Managers might have more substantive assessments around performance rather than no assessments or subjective ones for assistants
  6. Assistants are a group of people with different goals/values than managers or the professionals they manage; they are more interested in shopping and less interested in career progression (the difference in dress holds true between non-managerial professionals and assistants, though it is less stark)
 Some of those ideas are pretty weak.  Do you think any of them hold water?

I'm curious as to the impact dressing very well has on these assistants' careers.  Many of them are similar in age to me and dress better much better, but have significantly fewer and less important responsibilities.  I know we don't take people who dress very poorly seriously in the workplace, but maybe the same could be said if someone dresses significantly better than the norm?  I feel like it would be very dependent on context. The funny part is that the assistants are the ones in our office that can least afford to buy clothes yet the seem to have the most and the newest.

What has been your experience with people who dress better than their bosses?  Does this phenomenon exist in your workplace?  How does it affect career progression?