Top 25 things we learned at Connections 2013


Connections 2013 at the Hilton Columbus at Easton

Our goal at MBA Focus is to help MBAs find dream jobs and to help employers find talent they need. Together, through our partnerships with schools and corporate clients, we can achieve this vehicle for effective matching. Connections are our goal. And our annual Connections conference is where it all begins.

Connections 2013 included over 100 thought leaders in MBA recruitment. Those thought leaders included representatives from the world's top business schools and leading employers. It was our eighth Connections conference -- and it was our best ever.

The rich dialogue and openness to share ideas makes it possible for all of us to succeed at effectively matching candidates with employers. To recap what we heard, here are 25 takeaways from Connections 2013:

  1. The #1 thing MBAs are looking for is return on investment – what am I going to look like in 5 years? Tweet This!
  2. Employers who receive a résumé from a headhunter think that candidate lacks networking skills. Tweet This!
  3. Transferable skills just as important as past experiences when employers recruit MBA students to be consultants. Tweet This!
  4. Test scores can help narrow candidate pool but are not an indicator of future success. Tweet This!
  5. Internships are the best indicator of cultural fit. Tweet This!
  6. Employee referrals are 10 times more likely to be hired than other sources. Tweet This!
  7. 5 rules of relationship building are: Mutualism, Authenticity, Targeting, Reconnecting, Giving. Tweet This!
  8. 5 new networking tips: Be selective; Be an active listener; Be a connector; Be helpful first; Be proactive. Tweet This!
  9. Soft skills are the true differentiator because employers assume the candidates were taught the hard skills at b-school. Tweet This!
  10. 3 skills candidates need: Soft skills, Hard skills, Online presence. Tweet This!
  11. "It doesn't really matter what you did before, but how you did it." Tweet This!
  12. Employers are looking for candidates with demonstrated passion for their industry. Tweet This!
  13. Cover letters--though not always used--are a signal of true interest in a company and a valuable tool for career changers. Tweet This!
  14. MBA students are uniquely positioned to be career changers; where executive recruiting requires past experience. Tweet This!
  15. A disconnect exists between students' passions and their skills to achieve those passions. Tweet This!
  16. Dan Schawbel told us "Why I Accept All LinkedIn Contact Requests" Tweet This!
  17. Work and life aspirations are high for Gen Y MBA students, and there is little difference between men's and women's goals. Tweet This!
  18. The PIE model for career success is actually: 60% exposure, 30% image, 10% performance. Tweet This!
  19. Not-for-profit opportunities exist within many companies -- not just those traditional non-profit organizations. Tweet This!
  20. Top 5 reasons Black MBA Women are leaving their company in 1st year post-MBA: Poor cultural fit; Lack of mentorship; Did not feel valued at company; Negative experience with manager; Actual job different from how it was positioned Tweet This!
  21. What job-seeking MBAs need: Job function experience (61%), industry experience (51%), years of work experience (44%). Tweet This!
  22. 71% of employers say they value emotional intelligence over IQ. Tweet This!
  23. Turn Offs for Employers: Misspeaking about the organization in an interview; Asking very basic questions about the role/company; misspellings on resume. Tweet This!
  24. Top 4 gaps between candidate expectations and reality: Ability to lead from every chair; Potential for high growth; Transparency to the rules of engagement; Values align with corporate culture Tweet This!
  25. Daria Burke told us "What Lean In Means for Women of Color" Tweet This!

Interested in attending Connections 2014 or one of our industry-specific Focus Forums this summer? Contact us for details.



Ryan Pratt

Ryan Pratt is the Vice President of Marketing and Research at GradLeaders. During his 10+ years at GradLeaders, the network has grown to have now helped over 600,000 employers and 26,500,000 students from more than 1,000 schools around the world. Ryan graduated from The Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.

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