Giveaway: What’s an MBA to do?

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Frank Harris, from Huffington Post Article
Frank Harris, from Huffington Post Article

I read a post titled “MBA Mows Grass To Make Ends Meet.”  It’s kind of sad.  The saddest is this (talking about how he does a job search: “…now I can work (mowing lawns) until dark at least. Then I get home, take a shower, plop down in front of the computer and fill out as many job applications as I can.”

He is doing a job search wrong. I spent 60 hours a week plopped in front of my computer and filling out job applications… and look where it got me.  The question is:

What should Frank Harris do for his job search, assuming he has to mow lawns to pay the bills?  I have some ideas, but I want to hear yours, then will share mine.

ANSWER ON THIS BLOG – not on Twitter, or Facebook, etc.

11 thoughts on “Giveaway: What’s an MBA to do?”

  1. It’s a tough balance between earning a living and looking for the future. I read a lot of what Marcus Buckingham writes about looking at what strenghtens you and what weakens you – not just what your strengths and weaknesses are. I then spent a lot of time thinking about that – hmmm, what do you have a lot of time available for when mowing the grass – thinking. In addition, I research people who have messages I want to learn more about and find anything I can that has been recorded so I can listen to it while doing other things – hmmm, what would be good to do while mowing – keeping your ears covered. In addition, there are 24 hours in a day. I have laid out what hours I know I am most mentally acute so I work on the most mentally taxing things then and the physical things at other times. If he is mentally sharp in the morning, go out early and do a few lawns, come home and work for 3 – 4 hours – REALLY FOCUSED – and then go back out to work. Later at night, he can review what has come from his efforts, look strategically at where he wants to be, work with the social media tools to find contacts he can get to to help him get in to companies, and make sure his profiles, messages, and other information accurately reflect why he should be where he wants to be.

  2. If I was Frank, I would start talking to the folk for whom I mow lawns. A) they have jobs, maybe their companies need good workers. B) They know Frank is a good worker–they see him work hard and know the quality of the work he produces. Even if he is searching for a technical position, being able to work hard is a quality employers want and it shines through no matter what the task.

    I would also not focus on filling ot job applications but on a Linked In page or going through Facebook to create a virtual footprint that is easily accessible through a Google search and shows me off to my best advantage. When a recruiter Googles me, I want to look really good and not be hard to find.

  3. Along the lines of what @KATE says, but a multi-pronged approach:

    (1) I’d start a MCKAY66 on everyone I come in contact with.

    (2) I’d look for innovations that could make me more valuable as a mower. For example, you see a Real Estate sign on house with a shaggy lawn (i.e., pitch a routine service to the home owner and maybe more profitably to the agent). For example, if you see a roofing sign (i.e., this roof done by Joe the Roofer), pitch identifying all houses with old roofs while mowing to Joe the Roofer for a “finders fee” that is no cost to Joe until he sells a job with the offer to drop off his ad to the house in need of a roof. For example, spot houses with needs and pitch to locals who can solve them with finder’s fee.

    (3) I’d question where I got the MBA with what FREE services they offer with job placement.

    (4) I’d have a good cover story for my time in the blue collar ranks. (Snooty HR types don’t like gaps. Sick child. Ried my own business — MBA GROUND SERVICES, ABM CONSULTING, something like that.

    (5) I’d question myself how in heck I got into this “boat” or, in this case, mower. I have listed the rudimentary roles in Job Search. I suggest that you flunked in CFOing and Marketing despite the MBA. (Disclaimer I too am hindered by an MBA and have too many illusions about “rational” and “mathematical” management.) I’d suggest that Lucht (on my reading list) and his formal networking meeting might be needed to get you back on track. (The last person I loaned my copy to hasn’t returned it. Otherwise I’d offer to loan it to you.)

    (6) I think your still in the grieving process (IMHO) based on the reliance on the non-personal inet for job submission.

    I’m on-the-beach entering retirement, through no choice of my own, and am mad as heck. So please take the above advice as the ravings of a cranky the fat old white guy injineer, who happens to be the big fat old turkey hisself.


  4. Frank is taking the wrong approach to finding a new job. Reason being: He’s not seperating himself from the competition. I post jobs all the time and usually get between 70-120 resumes. The majority of people don’t even remember which job I’m calling them about because they sent so many applications. Candidates usually ask me to resend the job so they know which one it is I’m calling them about. This is a red flag!

    What Frank and other candidates should do, is find a way to build a relationship with the person who’s making the decision to hire. Easier said then done, but there are ways that A+ candidates figure out how to seperate themselves from others. Example: I know one candidate who found out that the Hiring Manager was very devoted to his church. The candidate volunteered at his church for a month in order to build a relationship. He ended up getting the job.

    Companies don’t want to hire candidates because they need a job. They want to hire candidates who have a desire and interest in the position. Candidates need to find ways to show companies there desire for the role and give hiring managers a clear reason why they are the best fit.

    Jeff Durante
    Search Consultant

  5. The approach that I would take is to find 10 companies with which you want to work. This is not to say that you are not already doing that. In the meantime, you find something so keep you going. While you toil during the day, you research these companies. You not only find out what they do, who they are, their culture and branding, but you begin to align your thinking with them. Remember, it is NOT all about you but what you can bring to the company, employer, bottom line and their value proposition.

    What about creating a presentation that succeeds in helping a potantial employer realize their vision? This would succeed in making the MBA job seeker more valuable. I am not saying that all employers will jump to hire but many will take a second and even third look at someone who puts in the effor to understand their needs.

    As with all job searches keep going, do not get discouraged and track everything that is done, down to the last networking meeting that takes place in the grocery store.

  6. I’d do one of two things, although I’m not sure which order I’d do them:

    (1) Take my list of target companies, find out who’s doing their lawn care, apply for a part- or full-time job with those companies, and then see if I can make some contacts with people who are arriving and leaving each day.

    (2) Put my MBA to good use and organize other lawn mowers, handle the marketing and billing for them, figure out what makes my crew unique from other lawn-care companies, and promote the hell out of my group. This might be particularly effective with teenagers, who are also desperate for work in a tough market.

  7. Instead of sitting down at the computer every night, I would seek Chamber of Commerce after hours meeting, and professional business clubs. While networking at these meetings, had out business cards, and get business cards. Could get extra lawn mowing work and find contacts at the businesses that he is sending applications to.

  8. I am sorry for Frank but I think he is doing a lot of things the wrong way. Instead of filling in job applications I would try networking and using social media on my behalf. If you just fill in job applications and your CV looks like this LinkedIn Profile than you sure have a problem. What are the odds that an employer would search you on Google or LinkedIn? According to a 2009 Microsoft study 79% of the hiring managers are reviewing online information about job applicants. That’s a lot. Frank is looking for a job and he has only 7 connections on LinkedIn, he has no recommendation, no photo and for the last 2 years has no reference about what he does.
    I would start by defining my goals. I would decide what kind of job I want, what location I would target and then I would build on this and differentiate myself from the others. For example if I am looking for a job as a store manager in Louisiana area, I would make a list of all the stores in the area. Then I would create alerts on Google for those stores and the area I am looking to be one of the first ones to find out about any change in the local market (if somebody from a company leaves to competition, if there will be a merger, if a new store will be opened). I would start to build my LinkedIn Network
    (he has 50 clients and he can connect with them and he can ask them for recommendations, I would also ask people from my previous job to give recommendations and link with me) and I’ll complete my profile. Also I would focus more (describe the job I am looking for no listing a lot of things and letting other to pick what they like.
    I would connect with my MBA colleagues and see if they can help me find any opportunities. I will try to get some recommendations also from their side.
    I would use what I learned during my MBA to market myself as the candidate for the job I wanted to land. There are a lot of resources about this from building your Google profile to LinkedIn answers. And also I would try to capitalize on the buzz created by the Huffington Post article.

  9. Frank is right to do what he needs to in order to pay bills and put food on the table. Alongside that effort, he needs to

    He can fire up his job search several ways, using MULTIPLE CHANNELS:

    1. Write his biography. It is a powerful exercise that helps one revisit their life and career successes, and see the common threads that run through both. A client did this recently and realized a key skill she had developed through many varied life and career experiences she had lost sight of.
    2. From the biography, highlight his top skills that differentiate him from others in the same or similar industries.
    3. Write a résumé, or get help from a certified résumé writer, who will interview him to uncover his top strengths and achievements–a effective way to get in touch with his specific career/industry skills and the VALUE he has to offer a company.
    4. Research at least 15 companies in his industry or a related industry that is less subject to market fluctuations (see for Mark Hovind’s list of recession-proof industries/occupations), then visit company Web sites to FIND OUT THEIR NEEDS.
    5. Make friends with the LIBRARY, where he can research companies and get help from the reference librarian (see “The Library Vacation”, ).
    6. Create a targeted list of companies where his skills would truly be a MATCH to their NEEDS. Then write out how he would solve their needs, and use that language in networking, his resume, cover letter, and any correspondence or communication with industry professionals or company hiring managers. He has to get comfortable talking positively about what he has to offer.
    7. Create powerful online profiles on LinkedIn. Zoom Info, and on industry/association Web sites.
    8. Research companies and network both online and offline (do his due diligence) until he finds the name/s of hiring managers in the companies he wants to work for.
    9. Build RELATIONSHIPS with contacts in his list of companies, online and offline.
    10. While conducting his job search, carve out time to do volunteer work, or create a side business using his skills, that he could adjust when he finds his next position.
    11. Create a CIRCLE OF SUPPORT–friends and family, a job club, a professional association where he can meet other industry professionals; or create a personal Board of Advisers to guide his job search efforts, comprised of industry and non-industry professional and experts who have both deep knowledge and are spheres of influence to help him. (See Getting support takes the edge off feelings of isolation and helps sustain the motivation needed to tackle the parts of the job search that may appear daunting to him or are out of his comfort level. It’s also a good cathartic to depression.
    12. CREATE A PERSONAL WEB SITE, using his name as the domain name (very inexpensively at to control what’s in cyberspace about him, and provides a place to put his résumé online, include a short bio, and include a video clip of himself speaking so viewers get a feel for his personality. Be sure to include the Web site URL on his résumé, in cover letters, and in his online profiles.

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