Career prospects after MBA in tier-2 and tier-3 cities in India: Opportunities and challenges

mba graduatesThere are many questions that arise in the minds of MBA aspirants. The answers to which are crucial in our deciding to opt for MBA. Is MBA the passport to success? Does it make us more employable? Will I get the placement I deserve and where will I get it? Majority of talent opting for MBA education in India is raw/fresh, unlike the global business schools where people come for management education after working in the industry.

Most of us think of MBA as our entry ticket to lavish corporates, with jazzy offices and high salaries at MNCs. With globalization and entry of MNCs and the outsourcing culture in the Indian market, these were not very unrealistic expectations.

Generally, job market in metro cities like Delhi/NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai etc. was flooded with opportunities in the fields of outsourcing, IT and IT-enables services, due to the presence of most of multinational corporations offering and attracting fresh business school graduates. Even now, these places are the hot spot of placements for MBA pass-outs.

In the last few years however, management educations institutes have rapidly mushroomed in tier-2 and tier-3 cities. And most students too prefer cheaper and AICTE approved programs rather than B-schools. This has led to the problem of plenty due to the increasing gap between good opportunities and deserving talent.

So what does an MBA degree has to offer to our career when we are not able to find the opportunity we want –grabbing our dream job with lucrative offer in a typical Indian urban set up. My article intends to throw light on our chances of a pleasant career after MBA in non metro cities, how different are the market conditions and opportunities there? What are the challenges we could face and how to overcome those challenges to move ahead and have a stable career.

I relocated to Goa, after working for three years in a KPO based out of Gurgaon. I had rewarding credentials, decent experience and diverse exposure. Although I did not expect to find a similar opportunity, I was confident of leveraging my experience of working in a MNC in grabbing a job locally. But I was wrong. There were many challenges I had to face during my job hunt in Goa. There is a dearth of jobs complimenting my previous experience, the compensation is de-motivating and the worst part was that I had to start from a scratch like a fresher. My previous job profile had so much narrowed down my career portfolio, that it was difficult to fit in any profile I was offered.

mba oportunities and challenges

It is true; an MBA degree with good credentials is not and should not depend on the city we want to reside. An MBA program is targeted to increase our potential to thrive successfully in our career. Whatever function we choose, our prospects of having a good life should not be limited by geography. But since the market conditions, economy, exposure, presence of industries is not the same everywhere, we are restricted by the opportunities we have at hand. So how do we find the most job potential sector/profile in tier-2 and tier-3 cities?

According to an Assocham survey, MBA pass-outs from tier-2 and tier-3 cities opt for Bank/PSUs jobs as these ensure job stability with lesser work stress. Out of the 30 sectors surveyed, in both the tier II and tier III cities, financial services sector provided maximum employment opportunities to the aspirants. The sector contributed a share of 19.5 per cent and 22.5 per cent in tier II and tier III cities respectively in terms of job openings. According to the survey, Ranchi emerged as the lead employment provider amongst tier-3 cities, it is Pune that is ahead amongst the tier-2 cities. One major difference in the opportunities available in metros and tier-2 and tier-3 cities is the absence of niche markets in the later. Services, research, outsourcing and consulting have enriched the job market in metros.

So if you could foresee that you might end up settling in a tier-3 town in India, due to personal or family reasons, then it is good to try your chances in financial services, banking and also to some extent education. Also, the potential of any industry could be dependent on the local market conditions. For example, service and tourism industry is well developed in Goa. Identify such potential markets and see where you can fit in.

One functional profile which is ripe everywhere is sales and marketing. Any business, small or big, irrespective of its presence, aims to expand. You cannot grow your business if you do not know the art of selling. Although, not everyone’s cup of tea and somewhat stressful, sales and marketing is one field, that has immense potential as a career field. It pays well, helps you grow as an individual, enables you to develop your network and is not restricted to what place you are working. If you are good at it, you will find ample job prospects for yourself in any city and town. Other fields like human resources, operations and manufacturing, even with decent number of jobs, are restricted by low pay grade in small towns.

It is important to note that in small town job market, retention is easy and encouraging. There is less competition and more opportunities to learn and grow. It is easy to come in the highlight with your work. One should not forget that tier-2 and tier-3 cities are ideal for small start-ups and businesses. You require smaller capital and lower overheads to start business and it is easier to organize a business in a small town where people know each other.

Looking at the future though, with new IITs and NITs coming up in tier-2 and tier-3 cities, these locations are poised for a major growth in academia infrastructure. There are many multinationals that are now expanding their footprints in emerging markets and towns. Companies are looking forward to grow in cities like Lucknow, Bhubaneswar, Raipur, Udaipur, Nagpur, Trivandrum and many others which will gradually lead these places to offer better infrastructure and quality of life. Not only it will provide fresh talent pool a better chance with their careers but will also be able to attract back a significant portion of installed talent pool in tier-1 cities that hails from tier-2 and tier-3 cities. But until that happens, the “dream of job-after-MBA” in these places looks dim and far, with narrow prospects.

Contributed by Isha Jajodia ( Class of 2010, IBS Gurgaon )

Top 5 Ways To Pitch Yourself To The Recruiters

personal interviewThe metric of how well you’ve done in your MBA usually boils down to this one thing- a big fat job. And when you land one, you feel that weight has been lifted off the shoulders. You’re able to enjoy the last few weeks of your MBA that much more, knowing that your future is secure.

But what if you strike out the first few times? Desperation sets in. Morale goes down. And doubt replaces self-confidence.  Making a comeback from each interview that didn’t go your way gets harder and harder.

While you’ve prepared yourself academically over the course of your MBA, ask yourself this: Have you prepared your sales pitch? The recruiters are, after all clients, and the candidate i.e. you, the product. What good is your academic understanding when you won’t get the opportunity to get to the interview table? And the times you do, you can’t close because you couldn’t get the recruiters to ‘buy’ into you.

In cricket and in life a few sessions of net practice can make all the difference. Of course, you need to maintain your cool and not get bogged down by the occasion, but if you know what shots to play, which ball to duck, the chances of a good match performance get better.

So here are a few tips that’ll help you pitch yourself better and close a job interview:

  1. Get The Basics Right: YOUR RESUME

How many times have you read a career objective that goes like “Seeking an innovative and challenging career as a professional in the field of marketing/finance, which provides opportunities for professional development and broaden my horizon in diversified manner to be a key player in a challenging and competing industry.”

I mean what! If you have a career objective like that you don’t deserve a shot. Keep it really simple, preferably one line that is clear and precise. And write from your heart. What is it that you really want to do. How you can fill a need gap for the industry you’re applying to, if not that particular recruiter.  But whatever you pen down keep it non-ambiguous.

Follow it up with a neatly formatted work-ex in chronological order, your professional and personal achievements and your hobbies. Hobbies show the recruiters your personal side and can become an icebreaker in an otherwise pressure cooker interview situation. So give it due weightage.

Mention your contact details such as your phone no. and email id right at the top. Don’t bury it inside make the recruiter go through your resume again when all he wants to do is pick up the phone and offer you the job.

  1. Research The Organization And Fill The Void

You are a prospect because you can fill a hole in the organization. Needless to say, you have to be the perfect fit. But you’ll fall short if you haven’t done your homework.

Find as much as you can about the role you’ll be applying for and the organization’s culture. Get in touch with your alumni who might have worked there. Work some contacts and talk to a few people. Make notes as you go and pen down the job role and organization’s cultural values. Then write down how you fit the role. What is it that you bring to the table that no one else does. Tune up your strengths accordingly. More the clarity, better your confidence levels when you walk in. It’s okay if you haven’t got everything right but the least it does is, tells the recruiter how serious and enthused you are to be a part of his organization.

  1. Pay Attention To Body Language

Again one of those things we don’t give much importance to. You should come across as competent and confidence who knows what he/she is doing. Dress up nicely for the day. Looking and feeling good is half the battle won. Sit straight, maintain eye contact while talking and smile. No one likes a brooding face and a serious disposition. You are not interviewing to be a commando. People want to hire and work with other friendly people. And your body language tells them more than you think. It shows you are easy to work with and have good people skills.

body language

  1. Make A 30 Second Elevator Pitch

By this time you’ve got the hang of what you need to do in an interview room. But what if you are literally in an elevator with a top guy of a company you really want to work with. Or at a dinner party. These are perfect occasions to get someone interested in you. At the very least you make a high profile connection, which can come in handy some day.

How you strike up a conversation will depend on the situation. But a good way to start could be starting with a warm hello and telling them how impressed or inspired you were by one of their accomplishments. More recent the accomplishment, better it is. It tells them that they have a fan in you and will lower the resistance of talking to a stranger.

So what is an Elevator Pitch? It is basically a crunched down version of your resume, keeping the most impressionable bits and leaving out the rest. It’s conversational and doesn’t try too hard. It’s casual yet assertive. The only way to arrive at the perfect pitch is to write it down and practice it with family and friends. Afterwards ask them what was it that they remembered and keep tweaking it until you’re sure that you’re making the impression you had set out to.

  1. Innovate: Your Personal Business Card :

You can think of this as a written down version of the elevator pitch. It’s short and punchy and answers key questions the recruiters have such “Who are you” and “How are you different”.

But for it to work effectively, you have to position yourself well. Bring it down to one word that best describes you such as “perfectionist”, “eye-for-detail”, “team player” etc. Once you have the right adjective, illustrate it visually. Look up innovative business cards on the internet to get inspired. Get a few made and keep them in your breast pocket. Hand them out to close the elevator pitch or to leave it at the front desk of the company you’re interested in.

However, none of these will help if you don’t practice. Keep at it till the time you can recite your spiel in your sleep. Then, practice some more. It’s the edge you have over your competition and something you can master easily. Start now and should be ready by the time you hit the placement season.

Contributed by Himanshu Saxena ( Class of 2009, IBS GURGAON )

What company looks in a candidate ?

mba aspirants

All set to enter into the corporate world? You must be excited — and tensed too.  And I am sure several questions must be swimming in your head: which profile to choose, which course to join, which technology to study and, of course, that big fat question — will I get company of my dreams.

Folks, I’ve interviewed a lot of candidates, for my current and previous organization. Amazingly, I fail to understand the thought process of an applicant during the screening process. Essentially they forget most of the tricks taught during their management program.

When we believe Google knows all, you search the web and end up with so many confusing ideas, like what’s your body language telling? Are you showing your real self? Do you have the personality to do the job? Are you resourceful?   These may puzzle you but organizations these days are clever in selecting a candidate.

We usually give a simple case study to solve and judge the candidate on different parameters and surprisingly we find most of them scoring low. I’ve put in my thoughts around 5 big common but so uncommon notions around the interview process which I thought will be helpful for you.

  1. Be smart not over-smart
  • You need to put in all your efforts to ensure you don’t behave like a fool. Perhaps this is an important life lesson. Most people think just to dissect words, by giving wrong references and exchanging peculiar examples will help them crack an interview. They are absolutely clueless about how much the interviewer is silently mocking their idiotism. Basically, detouring never fetches great results.
  • The idea is to answer what has been asked, it’s good to back your statement with an example but the pattern should match. Say you are talking about vendor risk, you should not suddenly jump and link it to payment processing. This confuses the interviewer and put you at risk.
  • The theme is KISS (Keep it simple stupid)
  1. Get off my back 
  • Many candidates are rejected because of their casual attitude to answer the interviewer. Even though they don’t have a fitting reply to a question, their tendency to speak more and eventually digress leads them to a downfall. By telling “I don’t know, but can I come back to you with an answer if required” will make you a bigger and a better person.
  • Don’t steer in a circle to find a corner i.e. by bugging the interviewer with your vague illustrations, lecturing him on the learning you have in your MBA classes will not work.
  • Organizations prefer smart idiots over a stupid genius any day. Perhaps a person, who doesn’t know, can be trained but a person with an incorrect knowledge will be a disaster. Even the great champions acknowledge they don’t know everything.
  • The idea is not to stretch the envelope.
  1. Sell yourself
  • I’ll tell you a secret. Organizations these days are desperate for talented and dynamic professionals. Leaders go an extra mile in terms of compensation, joining date and employee benefits to pull in the right candidate. It’s all about how well you fit the bill and how keen are you to fit the bill. But it’s quite sad to see the applicant miss this loophole.  
  • Be prepared to sell yourself. Applicants should carefully read the job description, research the market dynamics, organization vision, mission and core values. Align your sales pitch in accordance to the Job description. No one knows you better than you. The true sign of intelligence is the imagination to sell.
  • The goal is to sell ice to an Eskimo.
  1. mba graduatesHigh and mighty Attitude
  • Organization accepts that a candidate with a constructive attitude is a rare find. I’ll give you an example. I interviewed a candidate who had amazing communication skills, unexpected domain knowledge and immaculate interpersonal skills but we observed one imperative behavioural characteristic. During the interview process his attitude towards life and work was found to be very indecisive. He hemmed and hawed when we asked direct questions.
  • Organization don’t like when they are kept hanging in the air. They judge you on your attitude. They constantly look if the candidates can handle problems without cribbing, be a potential billable resource and fit in well with the team. You ought to have an attitude which is positive, constructive and inspiring.
  • The notion is don’t carry “devil may-care-attitude”.
  1. Be a Leader
  • One of my all-time favourite sayings is “Leading is like a love affair, every fool can start one but to end it tidily requires considerable skills”. Today organization suffers from a leadership crunch. Business units often complain about the lack of talented people who can lead their vertical. Perhaps they constantly look out for candidates who will lead the team, who will inspire and motivate the team members. This is one quality which gives you an edge over others.
  • You need to show your leadership quotient to the interviewer, request a moment to talk about the activities and initiatives wherein you have demonstrated leadership skills. In those 30 minutes they really want to see the leadership quotient in you. They primarily consider if the candidate can roll up his sleeves and turn the game or if he’s a kind of a person who just enjoys his past laurels.
  • Rally the troops, don’t become a case of blind leading a blind.
  • The mantra is “You can’t make an omelette without breaking the egg”. I’ll prefer a candidate who doesn’t necessarily be a great fit for the role, but if he’s proactive, has the ability to lead, above all has a great attitude towards life. He or she essentially should be a cog in the wheel for the organization.

THINK plenty before taking the plunge. Once you take that leap, start swimming. Don’t let the thought of gain or loss or success or failure distract you. It is important that you play the game seeking the goal you have.

If you act just for the boss at the workplace, you cannot act your role with dedication. Act not for the boss in the cabin but for the Great Boss within.

All the best! I’m sure you will be a great success.

Contributed by Vaibhav Chandra ( Class of 2007-2009IBS HYDERABAD )