Thursday, June 30, 2011

Coffee Inspiration

If you start going to Starbucks on a regular basis, sooner or later you'll catch it. Even if you are not a coffee-lover. So this post is my dedication to coffee. As any theater begins with a cloakroom, any working day at any office begins with this envigorating and strong-flavored drink. When you want to discuss a business issue with a colleague, you'll invite them out for coffee. After a minor disagreement, you'll go together to the kitchen to brew a new pot. Coffee gives news ideas and mends relationships.

And oh so often you will buy your fellow-workers coffee - can you think of a better way to say, "I am glad that we are working together"? But what is the right kind of coffee to buy, now that there are so many? Below is my personal mini guide, not complete and surely not mutually exclusive. Don't take it too seriously, and feel free to add your favorite coffee creations in the comments field.

Same amount of coffee as for an espresso but half the amount of water. When you really need a kick! I would not risk offering it to anyone - just for my own guilty pleasure.

Classics! Do I need to say more?

Opposite of ristretto: same amount of coffee as for an espresso but double the amount of water. Good for after lunch with a bit of bitter chocolate.

Caffè Americano
For me this type has the least character and it is perfect when you can't decide what you really want - sweet or savory, date or dump. Ironically, it was not invented in the States but in Europe, so I believe this beverage is slightly confused itself. Yet, if you don't know a person from Adam, an americano would be the safest choice.

Caffè Latte 
A shot of espresso with foamed milk. Good for enjoyable morning, fatal at dinners unless you are 8 or u add a shot of Baileys in, which will make it feel somewhat like an Irish coffee, which is a totally different story.

Undeservingly popular. You cannot taste coffee at all, particularly if the foam is generously peppered with cinnamon or cocoa. Popular with those who like to pretend that they like coffee but in fact cannot stand the taste of it. Those may also ask for a bit of caramel in it - just in case the coffee is good and strong.

Caffè Mocha
Chocolate delight. Coffee and chocolate are made for each other, just like jell-o shots and hangover.

Caramel Macchiato
A macciato is an espresso "tainted" with a dollop of milk. It is inconceivable why someone would like to spoil it with caramel, but for my take on that crowd read my comments on cappuccino.

Brewed Coffee
Excellent for good world-renowned blends like Blue Mointain (Jamaica), Alto Grande (Puerto Rico) or Kona (Hawaii), for example. The fact that hot water and not steam is used helps the coffee flavor develop fully for your sinful enjoyment. Whether you are using an ibrik (cezve), regular coffee maker or a french press (plunger or a bodum as it is fashionable to call it now), you can always expect that the coffee will be true to you. Coffee cannot lie: it's it's good, it's good; if it's bad, dump it down the drain. That's why I don't like milk or sugar in mine - I want to know the truth about my coffee and I won't use any taste concealers or sweeteners that would disguise it.

Besides, your favorite coffee drink can say a lot about you as a person. So if you have a business meeting or a job interview, be careful what you are ordering not to reveal too much or to reveal exactly what you want to display if it scores you points.

A quick poll on Twitter and Facebook yesterday yielded some unexpected results - what do you make out of these choices:
  • a decaf skinny latte
  • flat white, skinny capp with extra shot - to go
  • depending on the mood: if positive, expresso + little sugar; if negative frapuccino with cream
  • amaretto- flavoured cappuccino 
I am sure that if I give you brief psychological portraits of these wonderful individuals, you won't think twice figuring out who's hooked up on which coffee delight. And now I know that if I ever need something from them, I know exactly how to start the conversation - with a cup of their favorite!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Spanish Youth and Cucumbers

My dear friend Gary Stewart published his new blog post today, titled Indignant Fellows, Spanish Mothers and Tupperware. In his article he blames overprotective Spanish mothers for lack of ambition and passiveness of the Gen Y (or generación Ni-Ni, as he refers to them), which in the long run affects the economy, political and social setup of the country. While Gary's standpoint might be accused of extreme generalization (and is slightly aggressive), I cannot but agree that his article has resonated with my personal experiences here in Spain.

Yes, the younger generation in Spain has been taken for a ride and even now most companies and governmental agencies are trying to take advantage of the vulnerable position of the (especially younger) workforce, as I have already mentioned in my Offensive Job Offers post. I would not be too hasty to jump at conclusions that the Gen Y is a victim and everyone else is just a money-grabbing bastard not giving a damn about anything but personal profit. Over the course of the past year, I've met enough young Spaniards to notice certain trends in their economic behavior and I don't think that I will be too far off if I broadly categorize them into three groups:
  1. The disillusioned. They have a pretty good understanding of what is going on but no motivation to change anything, either because they tried and failed or merely because they know exactly what it will take from their personal lives, peace of mind and vocal cords to make a tiny difference. So they are looking at moving to greener pastures where meritocracy has a louder toll. London and Germany are normally the most popular European destinations.
  2. The revolutionary. Dolores Ibárruri would be proud of this group of her compatriots. They pray by May 15 and enjoy living in tents on Plaza del Sol. They believe that if they shout loudly enough, the jobs, money and public admiration will descend from above not unlike the manna people once received from heaven. History proves over and over again that forced redistribution of wealth has never led to anything but suffering and greater disbalance.
  3. The complacent. Life sucks and we are cool with it. An acquaintance of mine (26) wants to work as a waiter (he's in his last year at university working towards a degree in Geology). Not a research assistant, event coordinator, twitter feed manager or something else having a bigger value add, but a waiter. I respect the waiting profession. I want to try it out on Saturday nights as well. Being a waiter at 18 is cute. At 26 it's sort of embarassing.
Whatever group those youngsters (and I am talking about 18-30 years old here) belong, their low level of motivation is truly shocking. They would rather be demonstrating for a month than join a vocation school to learn Excel or English. Surely, I have not been talking about quite a large proportion of the Spanish youth who do have ambition and challenging targets in their lives, but I am trying to paint a general picture here and unfortunately it does look that bleak.

You would ask me what cucumbers have to do with this discussion. As usual, it's a metaphor. Perception is reality and your mental models define who you are and determine how you behave. In the midst of the Spanish cucumber scandal a few weeks ago, all Spanirds were adamant about the quality and taste of their cucumbers. In the end, the bacillum was located in Germany and Spain was cleared of all accusations but... their cucumbers are not that great, really.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Enjoy the weekend, friends!

I got this by e-mail from a friend today and could not but share. Enjoy and be amazed at how true some of these are!

1.A day without sunshine is like night.

2. On the other hand, you have different fingers.

3. 42.7 percent of all statistics are made up on the spot.

4. 99 percent of lawyers give the rest a bad name.

5. Remember, half the people you know are below average.

6. He who laughs last, thinks slowest.

7. Depression is merely anger without enthusiasm.

8. The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese in the trap.

9. Support bacteria. They're the only culture most people have.

10. A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory..

11. Change is inevitable, except from vending machines.

12. If you think nobody cares, try missing a couple of payments.

13. How many of you believe in psycho-kinesis? Raise my hand.

14. OK, so what's the speed of dark?

15. When everything is coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.

16. Hard work pays off in the future. Laziness pays off now.

17. How much deeper would the ocean be without sponges?

18. Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.

19. What happens if you get scared half to death, twice?

20. Why do psychics have to ask you your name?

21. Inside every older person is a younger person wondering, 'What the heck happened?'

22. Just remember -- if the world didn't suck, we would all fall off.

23. Light travels faster than sound. That's why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

24. Life isn't like a box of chocolates. It's more like a jar of jalapenos. What you do today, might burn your butt tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

QR codes and their future (?) in recruitment

The New York Post reported that one woman sent more than one thousand resumes over 99 weeks receiving only two interviews. Sending out plain looking sheets with personal data facts is no longer the option, right?

There are numerous ways nowadays how technology can be used in job search ( One of them seems particularly interesting to me, and that is using QR codes in your resumes, cover letters of even video self-presentations. Wiki:
A QR code (abbreviation for Quick Response code) is a specific matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code) that is readable by dedicated QR barcode readers and camera telephones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded may be text, URL, or other data.
Here is how it looks and I am not sure yet if it works, but you surely can scan it and see what's there :)

Increasingly, people start putting QR codes on their business cards. For instance, adding those for your LinkedIn or Twitter accounts will make it so much easier to go through the stack of business cards after an event or a long trip. You can see an example of a business card with a QR code on it here:

How are QR codes useful in job search?
  • surely, you'll break the routine of any recruiter bored with thousands of similar-looking CVs
  • you will stand out (and that's excatly what you want to do!)
  • you will demonstrate your knowledge of modern technology and the courage to use it in a conventional job seeking process
  • you can be as creative as you want in designing your presentation folio as long as you put the QR code there - and it will do all the job for you.

Yet, there are certain dangers associated with the use of technology in the job search process:
  • recruiters may not have time, knowledge or technology to scan the QR code
  • when your resume is stored in the recruitment system, all the formatting is removed together with pictures and ... your QR code
  • more and more people are using them, so how different are you?
Still, at this very moment using QR codes to look for a job is cutting edge and I would encourage you to dabble in this technological advance. Check out this video of a guy who was looking for an internship and used the QR technology to redirect the recruiter to his resume:

QR CODE - Content-rich Resume from Victor petit on Vimeo.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Total Recruitment Scam

Concise Oxford English Dictionary © 2008 Oxford University Press:
scam/skam/ n inf a dishonest scheme; a fraud.
Parents always tell their children to look before they leap, respect elders and not put anything in their mouth that isn't wrapped. My mom was not an exception and I wish I listened to her more often.

Last week I got an e-mail from a certain Mr Jordan, who presented himself as a recruiter for Total, one of the oil majors. He congratulated me on being pre-selected as one of the candidates for the job and invited me to London for the face-to-face interviews on July 4th, mere two weeks from then. I did apply for one of their positions advertised on LinkedIn a few days before and I was surprised at their reaction speed, as I know that big companies may take weeks to do pre-selection only. However, it was a project position and big projects do have a tendency to be ramped up quickly + obviously, I got interested. The alarming factor was that T&C (terms and conditions) were attached, but who listens to the voice of reason at the moments of great excitement? In his message Mr Jordan also advised me of the interview date and venue and gave the travel agent's contact details to arrange the trip. I emailed the travel agent asking what exactly they needed and got the following reply (pay special attention to #5):
Attn: Sergey Gorbatov

This is to acknowledge the receipt of your mail and we congratulate you on your new appointment with Total Oil and gas Company. As you are aware, we have been mandated by Total Oil and Gas to assist you in procuring your traveling documents to London, United Kingdom.

You are required to meet our requirement by sending the below listed document to us immediately so as to proceed with the travel arrangement and visa application.

1. A scanned Copy of your identification and International Passport.

2. The Nearest Airport to you.

3. Your Contact Address.

4. A Scanned Copy of a recent UK visa

5. You are to make a refundable deposit of £1,157.55 GBP, as this covers for the cost of your flight, accommodation and transportation while in UK. Note that this is important as we will need to file your flight itinerary along with the visa application.
(my emphasis)

6. Invitation Letter from Total Oil and Gas

Payments for such services are accepted via various payments but due to the service nature and the time frame, we advise you to remit it via either Money Gram or Western Union transfers, depending on the one that is convenient for you. Below is the accountant information is as thus follow;

Receiver Name: Margaret Cole,

Address: Unit 3, 61, Princelet St, London, E1 5LP

Upon payment, do send a scanned copy of the deposit slip along with other document requested to me via this email address and send a copy to our client (Total Oil and Gas) for confirmation as that will be used for refund process.

We assure you that every part of the travel documentation process will be fast as long as you provide us with the relevant documents that we are requesting for.

I hope to hear from you soon so as to proceed with your traveling arrangement.


Mr. Martin Walker
Chief Consultant (Air Express Travels and Tours)
At this point I knew it was a scam. I was so cross with myself for being naive and unable to recognize the obvious signs from the very beginning even though I (better than anyone else being an HR) should have known!!!

Please, be careful with schemes like this. Surely, they can be devised in a myriad of ways, but here are some pointers that shout "run!":
  • all major companies will only accept job applications via their official recruitment portals, which are security encrypted (start with https at the very least);
  • if at any given time you are asked for any money to subsidize your travel to the venue of the interview, double-check. Not all companies have large recruitment budgets and smaller firms may offer you to share the expenses or come to their premises at your own cost, but I have never come across such practices dealing with large multinationals;
  • you will not be invited for a face-to-face without having had a cheaper (phone or Skype) type of interview first;
  • check the e-mail addresses and websites:
  1. The email address was (check the spelling of careers, could I have looked straight away?!?!), and, surely, the official domain of Total is
  2. Air Express has a nice-looking webpage ( but most of the links do not work and someone spent some time to make it look credible.
I hope you will share this with your friends, as the best way to deal with fraud is to be aware and apply reasoning even in situations where it's most difficult to do so.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Offensive job offers

I am not a mean person. At least, not intentionally. I hate thinking bad of others and I want to trust others unconditionally until I am proven wrong. However, sometimes there are situations when being sarcastic, sardonic and ironic is the only possible way to keep my sanity without lapsing into lengthy periods of utter disappointment with the world and the people populating it.

Getting an MBA at an institution like IE Business School will not cost you nowadays less than EUR 50 K and those who go to Financial Management classes know that the net present value of any investment ideally should be positive (otherwise you are just a crappy manager). So why would a recruiter offer anything to a candidate, who has just got an MBA from a respectable school, employment terms under which getting to a break-even point will take an eternity?

I was on a train taking me to San Sebastian for a week of sheer enjoyment devouring absolutely divine basque pintxos and cider, basking in the sun on the beach and working on the final exam, time permitting. We were about half-way there when I received a phone call. I am presenting you with the rough translation from Spanish into English:

Recruiter: Hi, I am a recruiter from the Hay Group and I would like to find out if you would be interested in a Consultant position with us.
Sergey: Wow, that's great! Hay is one of my preferred employers.
Recruiter: Thanks. Then, since you have already had a conversation with one of our partners, we will continue the recruitment process. Just so that you know, we are offering a great starting package and for the first year your salary will be nineteen thousand euros.
Sergey: Really? Great! Nineteen a month - even more than McKinsey!
Recruiter: No, nineteen a year.
Sergey: Nineteen a year?
Recruiter: Yes, nineteen a year.
Sergey: One-nine?
Recruiter: Yes, one-nine.
Sergey: I don't want to seem arrogant, but I have just completed an MBA.
Recruiter: Well, you know, the country's in a crisis.
Sergey: I am sorry, I have to say that I am not interested.
At first I was shoked and then I started laughing. Luckily there was a friend nearby who shared the excitement. The "country's in a crisis" comment made the whole thing so ridiculous that I did not know whether to cry or laugh. I chose the latter.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Commencement Speeches and Why We Need Inspirational Stories

I don´t think there is a single business school student who has not listened to Steve Job´s commencement address at Stanford in 2005:

Steve Jobs did three things that made his address so memorable to an extent that the speech is now used in classrooms to teach rhetoric and composition:
  • relating personal experiences: who knows your personal stories better than you and, more importantly, who is going to retell them with same conviction and confidence? It's easy to talk about others, about things in general and something very speculative. It takes courage to talk about yourself, but then it's how you change the world and you change yourself at the same time.
  • clear structure and the power of three: it is a magic number - it has to be the three wise men, the three little pigs, the three tasks and surely, the three life stories from Steve Jobs (well, the Snowwhite is ruining the party with her dwarfs but let's ignore that for the time being, and really - seven is also a cool number). The transparency of Job's speech is amazing: a few introductory words, telling the audience what he is going to talk about, three clear and concise stories and finishing off with repeating what he has just been talking about. Textbook precision!
  • appealing emotionally and talking directly to the audience: engage not only the mind but also the hearts of people, know whom you are talking to: university students and not the same crowd as NASA engineers but they might equally relate to topics of death, love, failure and friendship. At the same time, each and everyone is a homogeneous group will respond differently to the emotional stimuli you are using in your speech simply because all of us have lived through different life experiences and one can never know for sure what strings in people's hearts and minds you'll be strumming when you are up there on the stage holding the mike with your sweaty fingers. Sweaty and at times shaking - you are talking about yourself there as well, you are putting yourself out, and it is the greatest danger and the most powerful tool you can use: laying yourself bare at the mercy of the audience and being strong enough to take it no matter which way the situation turns out.

The month of May normally brings many celebrities to university campuses to share their personal experiences, to give a sense of direction, provide guidance, inspire, ignite, provoke, console - the power of speakers is in their ability to sense the needs of the audience and speak directly to the hearts and minds of people. Listen to these 11 celebrities talking at various graduation ceremonies around the USA: (Tom Hanks is mischievously provocative :)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Why IBM Works: Diversity 3.0

I could not but admire the IBM Corporation, listening to the presentations on their diversity programs. I am a tad suspicious when big managers talk about diversity initiatives at their organizations, as the intent is normally drastically different from the implementation, but this time I was 100% convinced: I had heard the speeches, I had seen the videos and the materials and I had talked to the employees: at IBM diversity is not a program but a culture.

If Diversity 1.0 is mere compliance with the legislation and 2.0 is a more advanced version of integrating D&I (Diversity & Inclusion) practices into the business processes, Diversity 3.0 is shaping the agenda and proactively converting differences into the critical competitive advantage of the everchanging world of today.

Few managers understand the business case for diversity yet. The general feeling is that it's a nice-to-have but when push comes to shove they retreat to the safe haven of similarity and homogeneity. Yet, diversity only becomes a competitive advantage once everyone in the organization understand that:
  • the marketplace is becoming increasingly global: to reach into the new markets and grow your business you need to understand the cultural nuances of those market segments you are trying to conquer. Making your workforce diverse facilitates this process tremendously: basically, you are bringing the market intelligence into your company! Taking it even further, foster supplier diversity programs and go for diverse clients and customers.
  • great places to work attract great talent: the power of the workforce is in their differences and not similarities. Feeling welcome makes people work harder, be loyal and recreate this environment of acceptance and suport. How sustainable can dog-eats-dog or I'm-better-than-you-coz-you're-strange environments be?
  • diversity breeds innovation: we all know that innovation comes from combination. Put as many differences together (Lynda Gratton calls them heuristics), create conducive environment for creative juices to flow and there is not much left for you to do - change will emerge by itself reinventing the organization and making it stronger and more adaptable to the changing market needs.
Change starts with listening. Listen to what your organization or community is asking for. The trick is to listen not to the loudest voices, but to everyone. I get a feeling that at IBM every word is heard. Uthopic, of course, but that's what I heard from the employees themselves. They are not afraid to talk about their personal experiences in the workplace and they are proud of their differences and extremely acceptable of the differences of others. It flows in the company and it flows from the top. I urge you to watch this video about Policy Letter #4 and think where your organization is on the Diversity 3.0 journey:

Why Do We All Hate Performance Appraisals?

Today I observed the following conversation on Facebook among a couple of Shell employees who are in the middle of the Goals & Performance Appraisal (GPA) Review (identities of the culprits are protected, hehe):
I should say that the Performance Appraisal process at Shell is great in design and needs lots of improvement in implementation. However, I believe it is a universal problem because I know few people who drool over their performance reviews. What are the possible causes?
  • Cynicism. Yeah, right... HR people need to get a life: this has never worked and it won't!
  • Lack of transparency. How do performance rankings actually work? Does that document that you talk about three times a year help you get a larger bonus? Where do those papers end up and will anyone ever look at them again?
  • No following through. The intentions might be right but being caught up in the constant fire-fighting of the day-to-day jobs, both employees and their supervisers forget the importance of the documents they have agreed.
  • Little HR engagement. Understanding the principles of the performance appraisal process is critical, so that the employees take it seriously and the expectations are managed correctly. Line managers (particularly the new ones or vice versa those who have been in the company forever and "know better") need lots of support and training. Otherwise, disillusionment is inevitable.
  • Poor systems. There is nothing more frustrating than finishing a performance appraisal and suddently the system crashes on you. I have seen many HR ERP solutions that are unwieldy, take forever to load and not very user friendly. However, trust me... we, as HR pros, hate those system even more :)
I am not blaming the companies here and I am not blaming the employees either - I don't believe in conspiracy theories; nobody wants to sabotage a good process. But once glitches begin, if there is insufficient communication, everything goes belly-up and the Facebook comments you see above are quite natural. Unfortunately, implement a system is not the most difficult task. It is changing the culture and the mindset of people that normally takes lots of efforts and there are few success stories proving that culture change is an easy task - otherwise... why do more than 50% of M&As fail?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Great Transformation Stories

Last Friday I went to the 4th GLBT Leader Forum in Rome, an event placing diversity, uniqueness and self-realization at the head of the table and calling its participants and supporters to be inspired in order to transform the society we are living in. And as one of the panelists said, "Take a deep breath, which is of course where inspiration starts".

As I was listening to the speakers, I was doodling in my notepad and I came up with three great examples of successful transformations, and looking at those, I realized that in order to change and to change your environment, be it your family, your organization, your friends, your society or your country, you need three things: patience, hard work and courage.

Everything starts with patience. Change can happen fast but mental frames take long to set in, so prepare to wait. Just like butterflies: caterpillars turn into chrysales, then into larvas and finally beautiful butterflies appear, but some time needs to pass before we can see the rainbow beauty of the butterfly's wings.

The next component for transformation is hard work, and who would be a better role model for that other than Cinderella? Scrubbing floors and separating beans from lentils all days long, suffering jabs and insults from the ugly stepsisters and her stepmother and harboring her love for her deceased parents and wishes for the beautiful prince... As the stepmother in Ever After put it, "Child, you were made for hard labor".

Finally, no transformation will happen without courage. Through pain and suffering the ugly duckling is doomed to success. It takes guts not to give up. It takes all your strength to wake up every morning, dress up and face the world that is not welcoming you in - the world that hates you. When there is nowehere to seek help from, all that is left is you. That's courage.

Transformation always starts inside; the rest is facilitation. The Fairy Godmother was there to finish off what Cinderella has already created within herself - her inner beauty. Remember: if you want to transform, all you need to change is your thoughts...

Friday, June 10, 2011

Monday, June 6, 2011

My personal job searching techniques

Now that I am in the midst of job hunting, maybe I should sum up all the different approaches I used trying to land a cool sexy MBA type of a job and analyze what really worked for me and what was a total waste of time.

Sending out my CV
Most time consuming and least effective. It's like cold calling: you think that it's gonna work just because you are so amazing and everyone will be taken by your accomplishments, but it practically never works: the success rate is one in a zillion or something.

Applying on companies' websites
Slightly better and I did get a few interviews out of that. Among the best career portals that I have been to are the ones of BP, GE, Philips, and Shell. Sometimes they are horrible - if you want to spend an hour of your time and arrive nowhere, try applying for a job at Investec or ABSA.

MBA programs
The finance maxim applies: high risk - high return. Applications to these take hours to write and the recruitment processes are stringent. However, once you are in, you will be taken care of and from the career development perspective, this might be the best choice, as normally  those are rotational programs, giving you a chance to move around a few countries and change a couple of positions within 3-5 years and providing senior leadership exposure. You might want to read about my personal experiences with the Prudential Momentum Program or DHL Inhouse Consulting.

Overall, such experiences are quite unnerving, so here are some personal lessons on dealing with assessment centers:

Job portals
I am registered on a couple of those and I do not find them effective at all. To the best of my knowledge, none of the opportunities came from that avenue. The ones that I am using (maybe they are the wrong ones!) are:
Proved to be very effective and easy to use. There are at least two different ways how it can be used in job hunting. The first one is straightforward and it is applying for jobs openly published on LinkedIn. I do get e-mails and phone calls back regarding those applications. The second is joining various LinkedIn groups that are of interest to you (function, industry or affiliation). In the group space you will see numerous publications from headhunters and managers looking for candidates. What I do is sending them a LinkedIn message (something like below) and I can tell you, it is a very effective way to get noticed...
Hi xxx, I came across your profile in the xxx group on LinkedIn.
I am an HR professional with 10 years of experience including 5 years of international experience in the oil&gas industry (Shell). I am now finishing my MBA at IE Business School in Madrid and looking for further career opportunities. Please take a look at my CV ( and hopefully my candidacy will be of interest to you.
Kind regards, 
Head Hunters
Difficult to get to, but if you are in, your life is a breeze. Since most head hunters work on assignment, often you are only of interest to them if they have a "burning" vacancy. However, sometimes (particularly if you are very interesting candidate possessing a rare skill, like petroleum economist) they would want to have a chat with you "for future reference". Such relationships need to be nurtured and those head hunters need to be kept in the loop of your career development. We all know the names of the best ones:

Leveraging Networks
In Spain it's a must do, but it equally applies to all other countries: best jobs are found through personal connections. Think about it... People recommending you to their employers or their personal contacts take risks so if they do that, they do it for a reason - because they are sure that you are a good candidate. Hence, personal recommendations are most trusted. Shamelessly use your networks! Contact former colleagues and bosses, people you did business with, your professors, strangers you met at conferences and business lunches... Yet, be suave. Don't ask for a job, but ask for information or being introduced to someone. That was you are not putting your network under pressure but rather leveraging its potential. In my experience - super effective!

IE Career Center
I know that half of my fellow-MBAs are going to hate me for what I am about to say, but IE Career Center has helped me greatly in the job search process. As they say, the best helping hand is a good kick in the butt, and that's what they help you to do: get off yours! I noticed that the Career Center specialists help those who help themselves. In other words, they won't find a job for you, but if you are active in your job hunting and making progress, they will direct, provide advice, polish your resume and cover letter and will open door, within IE and externally, be it with head hunters or directly with companies. I got a few interviews directly with the hiring managers merely because a Career Center officer recommended me to an employer. It's all about relationships!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

MBA Job Prospects are Not So Bleak

MBA graduation a mere week ago and I am already in the midst of a job searching frenzy. To be honest with you, being on vacation after your MBA studies (or being unemployed as others put it; those who always see the glass empty) is a great opportunity to think what it is that you really want. Especially it is not so stressful if you know that you are in demand and the article that I am pasting below corroborates the sentiment.

I had a conversation with head of Attraction & Recruitment at one of top employing multinationals last Friday and she shared her concerns with me that the MBAs are becoming pickier and the offer rejection rates soar, while the company was moving in the direction of not providing any special treatment to recent MBA graduates. We had a good debate around it and my point of view was that there are different types of MBAs: those who demand high salaries and challenging high-level positions commesurate with their experience and academic knowledge and those who jump on the bandwagon and have unrealistic expectations from the job market merely because they were lucky enough to go to a business school, no matter how prestigeous it was.

Not providing a special treatment for your HiPos (high potential employees) is dangerous in a way that they (1) might become demotivated and (2) will miss the development opportunities that otherwise would boost them up the career ladder in your organization much faster. Besides, there is an eternal need for role models, so why hide them from the rest of the company and keep the brilliant performance records just in the HR vault?

But I have gone on a tangent here. What I wanted to say is that the playing field looks green and the sun is shining for those MBAs who are graduating now. I am looking forward to landing a fantastic job in the next month or two!


MBA job prospects brighten

 New research shows that MBA job opportunities have increased this year compared to last, and are set to increase further still in the coming months.

Released Tuesday, the Graduate Management Admission Council’s (GMAC) Global Management Education Graduate Survey reports that 54% of all graduate business school students looking for employment had received at least one job offer when the survey was conducted in March. This is in comparison to 32% at the same time in 2010.

“There is a clear connection between the optimism employers are expressing and the improving job prospects business school graduates are seeing,” explains Dave Wilson, president and chief executive officer of GMAC, the organization behind the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT). “Organizations need smart managers to deal with challenges—and they rely on them to seize opportunities.”

GMAC’s research correlates with research released by QS late 2010, where employers predicted large increases in hiring in many sectors during 2011.

In the QS Top MBA Jobs and Salary Trends Report 2010/11, employers in both the consulting and finance industries reported large MBA hiring expectations throughout 2011. This trend, first reported by in February, is highlighted in GMAC’s 2011 Corporate Recruiter’s Survey, also released today.

According to QS’ research, other sectors set to offer more MBA job openings this year include the electronics, IT, metals/mining, recruitment/HR, and utilities industries.

MBA salaries increase further

While MBA graduates are set to enjoy a greater amount of job openings compared to last year, compensation for those jobs is also expected to increase.

“Salaries are also on the rise,” GMAC states.

“For example, graduates from two-year full-time MBA programs reported a 73% increase in their post-degree base salary compared with what they earned before beginning their studies, on average. This is an increase from the 64% average salary boost seen by their peers in the class of 2010.”

According to GMAC’s Corporate Recruiter Survey, MBA employers now feel confident enough in the economic climate to focus on expanding their operations, resulting in 67% of responding employers expecting to hire new MBAs in the coming year. This figure has increased from 62% last year, and 50% in 2009.

On the other hand, only 36% of employers reported that their companies were focusing on overcoming economic challenges, a decline of 13% since 2010.

“After two years of contraction, we see a pronounced improvement in the job market for business school graduates,” says Gregg Schoenfeld, GMAC director of research and author of the graduates’ survey report.

“Based on job offers, hiring is up in all industries, and more than half of the students who were looking for work had job offers two months before graduation. Last year, that figure was lower than one-third.”

GMAC’s Corporate Recruiters Survey includes the responses of 1,509 MBA employers, based in 51 different countries, while the Global Management Education Graduates Survey reflects the responses of 4,794 graduating business school students of the class of 2011, studying at 156 business schools worldwide.


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