How We Beat a Tough Job Market: Advice from HEC Paris MBA Alumni

The current world health crisis has made everything feel uncertain, including knowing how and where to find your next job. But it’s not the first time the economy has faced a downturn, and it certainly won’t be the last. Recruiting for some companies has gone down, but LinkedIn still has more than 65,000 internships and 1.5M job listings for the United States alone, and some highly sought-after companies, such as Amazon, are hiring more people than ever before.

To help our MBA students make the most out of today’s career opportunities, the HEC Paris Career Center recently invited three MBA alumni who secured great jobs right after the 2008 financial crash to talk with our students. Sharing their job-search strategies with current students were Tatiana Renko CEO of HSBC France office in Brussels, Archana Shah, Analyst Relations Lead to Amazon Web Services, and Murli Mahalingam, Group Pricing Manager at Algeco. Here’s their top tips for “beating a crisis,” as recorded during last month’s Careers presentation.


1. Use your network

Marie Courtois during the zoom

Marie Courtois, HEC Paris Career Center Director

Marie Curtois: The HEC Paris MBA gives you an amazing network – use it. Reaching out to people you know through HEC Paris or to former colleagues is a sure-fire way to generate more job opportunities, no matter what the economic climate is like.  Don’t hesitate to seek out people on HEC Pulse, the HEC Alumni Association’s mentorship platform. There are new mentors volunteering daily who want to help out, and there’s bound to be someone whose experience exactly correlates to what you’re looking for in your post-MBA career.

Archana Shah: It’s so important to reach out to your network. You can ask them if they know about job openings. You can also use their expertise to find out what it’s like working for a certain company, or in a particular industry, or to discover their thoughts on living in a particular country.

Archana during the zoom

Archana Shah, MBA ’08, of Amazon Web Services

Murli Mahalingam:  In addition, make sure to share all the job opportunities you know about—or even ones that you interviewed for but were unsuccessful in securing–with your MBA colleagues who might be interested in that sector or that type of job.

Tatiana Renko: Always remember that you’re graduating from one of the world’s best institutions, one with the best alumni networks in the world and great resources at your disposal. Use the resources as much as possible, work hard, and don’t let yourself get discouraged.


2. Be open-minded

Murli Mahalingam: Don’t be afraid to slightly alter your plans, especially in the short term. This could be in various aspects of your job search, including function and location. After my graduation in 2008, I really wanted to work in France, and fortunately, I was offered an internship here. Still, if my search had lasted longer, it would have been a good idea for me to start looking for jobs in my home country or outside of France.

Archana Shah: When I graduated, I had hoped to change both my function and geography, but soon realised that I would have to be more open-minded and prioritise one of those options. I chose to change my function. I narrowed my job search and only applied for jobs in my native Singapore where, at the time, most employers only wanted to hire permanent residents, which gave me an advantage. I also chose to apply for internships rather than full-time jobs; I knew that they give you a “leg up” and great experience to get your foot in the door.


3. Be calculated, and know when to cut your losses

Tatiana Renko during the zoom

Tatiana Renko, MBA ’08, of HSBC

Tatiana Renko: Take a calculated approach to getting a job. It might be your dream to change function or location after your MBA, but during a crisis it can be best to stick to what you know, and apply to where you already have a working visa, to maximize your changes of success. Still, start out by applying to jobs that you want the most, but have a deadline when you will cut your losses.

Marie Curtois: I absolutely agree. A career is a series of stepping-stones, so you shouldn’t see your next step as one that will last you for the rest of your working life. You have learned lots from your MBA, and there’s no reason not to apply for your dream job in a different function once the market picks up again – and it will eventually.