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How to Get a Job Without Really Trying

Unfortunately, this article is not a critically-acclaimed Broadway musical starring critically-acclaimed actor Daniel Radcliffe – but, much like life here at HBS, this article will be filled with a combination of great learnings and small disappointments. Second on the list of disappointments? The fact that this article came out too late to guide you to employment during Dedicated Interview Period. Don’t worry, McBainCG didn’t think you were terribly interesting anyways – you’ve likely got plenty of interviews still to come.

Contrary to what your career counselor might tell you, there are in fact sure-fire tips that will at the very least get you closer to securing that job that your self-worth depends on. Remember, you’re shooting for a consulting gig (if you’re lucky), so the 80% solution is just as good as the real thing. Follow these instructions to the letter and you’ll be enjoying success beyond your wildest dreams while your more “revolutionary” classmates are busy trying to figure out a way to turn “the next great idea” into AWS hosting credits. Remember – the Webster’s definition for “entrepreneurship” actually just refers the reader back to “unemployment”, so let’s see what we can do about keeping you out of that situation, dear readers (there’s more than one of you out there, right? Right??).

Securing an interview

Remember: LinkedIn is just Tinder for professionals
Treat it as such and you will go far. Every probing message from a headhunter, every slightly-flirtatious profile picture you scan while reviewing connection requests, every second-level friend who messages you out of the blue – these are all people who have swiped right on your profile. Respond to them accordingly: “heyyyy sexy” usually does the trick.

Change your last name on Facebook to your grandmother’s maiden name
This way, employers totally won’t ever be able to find all the pictures of your drunken, debauchery-filled international boondoggles that you accidentally scheduled right over your interviews and had to “call in sick to reschedule.” They will, on the other hand, be able to open credit cards and bank accounts in your name, but hey – nobody said success was free.

Sign up for every single available hour with your preferred career coach
This way, your competitors classmates wont’ be able to benefit from their advice. Some people (read: haters) may call this strategy a bit cutthroat, but that sort of devil-may-care attitude is exactly what all the top PE firms are looking for in a candidate. Wait, you’re not interviewing for PE? Really? Maybe you should do a couple of resume drops just in case…

Make sure you use action words on your resume
This piece of advice encompasses passé action verbs (e.g. “spearheaded”), less-common action adverbs (e.g. “spearingly”), and even elusive action nouns (e.g. “spear”). Liberal use of action words sprinkled across your resume will show the college intern who’s been assigned to throw it in the garbage that you may have physical capabilities that could really ruin his day. Any attention is good attention.

Make sure you understand what an adverb is before using it in an article
I know “spearingly” isn’t a word. Shut up.

During the interview

Establish dominance early
Recruiters respond well to candidates who take control of situations with ease and fluidity – a good start would be to offer the recruiter a snack or beverage immediately after sitting down (“I hope somebody’s offered you a glass of Chateau Margaux. No? Well let’s fix that now.”). More advanced techniques include putting your feet up on the desk, following answers to demographic questions with sly winks, and asking the recruiter why he or she is sitting in your seat.

Leave your interviewer wanting more
You want the recruiter to leave the interview thinking “I wish I had the chance to talk to that candidate for another fifteen minutes.” Easiest way to accomplish that goal? Leave the interview fifteen minutes early. After all, once you’re pretty confident you’ve gotten a couple of solid, laser-focused, building-on-my-previous-statement comments in, why not drop the mic and leave on a high note? Allowing the interview to continue only exposes you to unnecessary risk.

After the interview

Follow up with your interviewer
Thank you notes are one great way to show your interviewer you appreciate them taking time out of their day to talk with you – and if one note is good, then more is clearly better. Start by sending an email the day after the interview, and then follow up with another each day you don’t hear back. Companies are looking for employees with initiative, and a restraining order is the most commonly-recognized mark of a true go-getter.

Help your classmates prep for their interviews
It’s almost a foregone conclusion that some of your classmates will be interviewing for the same job you are – now’s your chance to pay it forward and give them the help they need. Start right after you leave your interview, by making a list of all of the questions you were asked. Label this list “Things I will never tell my classmates”. Giving your competitors classmates this advantage could be the difference between gainful employment and working at Deloitte, so hoard it jealously.

Give your pre-HBS employer a call
Having some insurance in the bank in the form of another offer not only helps calm your nerves, but also gives you extra leverage when you’re negotiating salary. The only problem with this may be the slightly “unorthodox” manner in which you left your previous employer, but I’m sure you’ve got plenty of experience winning over previously unwilling counterparties. Try saying things like “It’ll be different this time” or “These two years meant nothing, I swear!” If you’re really stuck, pull out the big guns – “I wasn’t ready for a long-term commitment then, but I’m a different person now” usually works quite nicely.

Reconsider entrepreneurship
This may be the most difficult piece of advice I give you here, but it’s always important to have a backup plan, no matter how distasteful. Practice saying the word “entrepreneur” in the mirror until you can pronounce it without a grimace escaping your lips. This may take some time, but it’s worth the investment in time and effort. There are all sorts of respectable men and women out there who took the initiative, started their own businesses, and work for themselves rather than some giant, faceless corporation – I mean, somebody had to start the first hedge fund, right? Look to them as your role models.

I’ll admit it freely – this task may seem daunting at first, but with some luck, persistence, some more luck, practice, even more luck, the right connections, and a liberal sprinkling of even more luck, you too can secure yourself a summer internship. Chins up, ladies and gents!

February 4, 2014
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