Jennifer Whitten and Jared Barlow of Arizona State University's WP Carey School of Business
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Welcome to the FT web chat with Jennifer Whitten and Jared Barlow from the Arizona State University’s WP Carey School of Business, in the US.

Are you an MBA student or graduate looking for a job or internship? Do you have questions about the job search or interview process? Jennifer Whitten and Jared Barlow answered career-related questions on the 7th of August 2014.

Ms Whitten, director of the graduate career centre, wrote “ How to make yourself stand out in a job interview” for the Business Education’s MBA Careers hub.

Mr Barlow, associate director of graduate programmes admissions and recruiting, specialises in the online MBA programme at WP Carey School.



Wai Kwen: Welcome Jennifer and Jared. Here’s the first question:


Question 1: I’m in the process of seeking informational interviews about a senior project manager role I will be applying for. Using LinkedIn, I believe I have found the person who was previously in this role, but is now in a different job. Should I interview this person to find out about the pros and cons of the role plus the company culture? If yes, how do I best approach this person as this individual doesn’t know me? Should I talk to people in the company already in a similar role? Or should I speak to the manager who is likely to be on the interview panel?


Jennifer and Jared: Informational interviews are a great way to gather information about a company, career paths and roles as well as seek advice on how to become a competitive candidate for a position.

It is best to speak to someone that is not going to be on the interview panel, so you can feel comfortable and not nervous. During the interview I would suggest you focus on their career path, rather than the company you are targeting. Typically people like to talk about their experiences and give advice, so I would imagine their experience at that company will naturally come up and then you can explore questions about why they chose to find another position.

If you are truly interested in learning more about project management and this person has experience in that role, I am sure you will gather pertinent information to help you in your career.

When reaching out to someone on LinkedIn, make sure your first connection message to them is individualised. Find a commonality that you both have, it could be you are alums of the same school, you participate in a similar professional associations or are in the same career field.

Once the connection is accepted, you can follow up with an email expressing your interest in gathering advice and information and would appreciate the opportunity to chat with them for 10-15 minutes.


Wai Kwen: Here’s question 2:


Q2: I am based in the UK and I am applying for jobs in the US. I’ve been advised to change my two-page CV to a one-page resume. I’ve included my hobbies at the end, but do employers really care about this information? Does this really help job-seekers look like “well-rounded” individuals? I heard that employers have little time to look at CVs nowadays and I am tempted to delete my leisurely activities from the page.


Jennifer and Jared: It is appropriate to change your CV to a resume. The main thing you want to consider when shortening your resume is whether you have included all the most relevant experiences. If your hobbies are relevant and demonstrate a quality that would be desired by the employer you are targeting, then you might want to keep them on your resume.

The first item that is reviewed on your resume is your qualifications - it is critical to make sure you have highlighted the skills you have that relate to the job. If you have more space, sharing information about volunteerism, hobbies, and travel could allow you to differentiate yourself from other candidates.


Wai Kwen: Question 3 coming up.


Q3: There are relatively few women studying for MBAs, and we hear a lot about the importance of recruiting women to corporate boards. So why does all the research show that the remuneration they receive is lower than that for men?


Jennifer and Jared: There is a lot research that speaks to the wage gap between women and men in the workplace. However, we are seeing that at the MBA level, women are seeing significant salary increases and the offers are comparable to men in the program.

The MBA is way for men and especially women to increase their earning potential. Experience, coupled with an MBA degree have helped level the remuneration we are seeing in post-MBA employment among women. We are seeing a high demand for women with MBAs.


Wai Kwen: Question 4 coming up.


Q4: Would you recommend taking a high-paying opportunity in order to pay off my debts and then go into the career I really want, or should go with my heart from the outset?


Jennifer and Jared: This is definitely a hard choice to make and you should consider many different factors. Job satisfaction is incredibly important and I would suggest that you spend time evaluating what is most important to you, think about what motivates you and what would make you happy in the long term.

For many people, money is not a key motivator. In addition, set goals for yourself. If you need to be financially secure before pursuing your dreams, determine the timeline needed. The beauty of today’s workplace is that you can always change your career path as long as you have the skills and motivation to make it happen.


Wai Kwen: Here’s question 5 coming up soon.


Q5: Which sectors are paying the highest salaries this year?


Jennifer and Jared: Investment management and consulting are very consistent sectors that tend to offer higher base salaries year over year. In addition to the base salary, it is important to consider total compensation, which can include a signing bonus, performance increases, vacation and retirement packages.

There are many sectors that offer fantastic benefits that you may want to consider. For example, benefits that do not always have a monetary value could include: education reimbursement, travel and work-life balance. Before making a decision about a particular job, make sure to research the whole package.


Wai Kwen: Here’s the last question.


Q6: I have learned that some recruitment companies use software to scan CVs and resumes. What key advice do you have on making sure that my CV gets noticed. Currently, I have a skills-based CV.


Jennifer and Jared: Many companies are using applicant tracking systems (ATS) and this type of software reviews your resume against the job posting and key competences required for the job. This means a computer is actually the first to read your resume.

The key to making it through the system is to carefully review your resume and the job posting and word choices. For example, if the job posting uses the word “clients” and your have worked with clients, but have called them “customers” on your resume, the system may not realise that they are referring to the same group.

I recommend adding a section on your resume that lists the qualifications you have that match the position description. It is incredibly important to create a targeted resume for each job when applying online.


Wai Kwen: Thank you so much Jennifer and Jared for your advice. The webchat has come to an end and I hope you enjoyed today’s session.

If you are an MBA student or graduate seeking careers advice or a job, please go to our MBA Careers hub.

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