4 Ways to Attract Top Notch MBA Candidates

August 27, 2013

This post is a collaboration between Bradley Lawrence and Gina Pak

As the school year nears and campuses come alive, campus recruiting teams nationwide are kicking into gear for their full-time and summer intern hiring initiatives. While we often lump undergraduate and MBA recruiting into one conversation, our experience going through the process as a candidate (Bradley) and recruiter (Gina) shows that these processes have a few key differences that can make bringing top MBA talent more challenging.

So what should you be doing to get top MBA talent into your organization this school year?


1. Cast a vision

The majority of MBA’s have solid work experience and can thus be tougher customers when it comes to expectations for potential employers due to their past experiences and more focused career goals. Moreover, many are in their late 20s and early 30s and have personal or family considerations that make their decisions process more complicated compared to undergraduates. While frustrating at times for talent acquisition professionals and hiring managers, those organizations that get it right have a huge advantage compared to their competition.

We’ve also seen that many MBAs value the potential for advancement, sense of community, and opportunity to engage in meaningful work as more important than job title or compensation. As our colleague Tey Scott recently discussed, hiring millennials brings high rewards but also requires high manager engagement, and we’ve seen this amplified with MBAs who have high expectations from their future employers.

2. Plan ahead and collaborate

One huge hurdle that all organizations face is forecasting future talent demands, and this can make MBA recruiting more difficult. MBA campus recruiting seasons often begin as early as September, but candidates usually can’t start until the following summer. While great talent can surely be found in business schools closer to graduation, much of the top talent may have accepted a full-time position or internship from top firms that follow the traditional schedule by the time you are ready to recruit.

At LinkedIn, our University Recruiting team starts the forecasting process early with hiring managers and encourages them to plan diligently so we can provide them the best candidates. While forecasting talent needs almost a year in advance can be difficult given business uncertainties and budget timing, you can often justify it through historical hiring trends and flexible rotation programs that do not lock the hire into a specific manager or job description. It is also critical to work closely with the career offices at the MBA campuses as they can be a great partner in developing a smart strategy for their school and connect you with potential candidates who may fit your needs.

3. Leverage technology

As anyone whose gone to campuses to recruit before knows, it can be a time-consuming and expensive proposition when you factor in travel. While meeting students in-person is undoubtedly the most effective way to get to know a potential candidate and tell your organization’s story, there are tools that can make the process more efficient and impactful.

First, in addition to posting on school’s website, consider going where the students are --LinkedIn. There are currently over 30 million students and recent grads on LinkedIn and 35% of them indicated they plan to use LinkedIn in their job search, and 8X increase over the last two years.

Next, as you visit schools, avoid the complicated paper mess that career fairs and meetings with students can often be. Instead of taking business cards or having students sign a sheet that is easily lost, leverage CheckIn from LinkedIn. CheckIn integrates with laptops or tablets and allows recruiters to receive electronic contact information from potential candidates that integrates directly with your LinkedIn Recruiter Talent Pipeline. This allows for a dynamic profile of the student over time, even after graduation, and enables you to contact the student on your terms and efficiently manage your candidate pool.

4. Give candidates a world class experience 

MBA’s want to understand the value proposition of their role at a company.  Be clear to define the recruiting process, the role they are interviewing for, metrics of success, and career path.  It’s important to have interviewers engaged and excited about the potential role in which an MBA can make immediate impact and have ownership.  Share real life stories.  It’s also a nice touch when hiring managers call or send congratulation emails once a candidate has accepted.  These candidates are future employees and are often times brand ambassadors on campus.

So when you run into frustrations and top candidates who get away in your first few years, don’t give up-if you’re engaging with students, leveraging technology and promoting a strong talent brand, you will ultimately see results. Campus recruiting is tough, particularly with MBA students, but it’s also incredibly rewarding when you see the energy and results that your new hires will bring to your organization.