The number of graduates from business programs has been climbing for years, creating ample competition each year for newly minted business majors. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), business programs conferred the most bachelor's degrees for 2011-12, with post-secondary institutions handing out 366,815 degrees to that period's graduating class.
Some grads may have a plan for what to do once they have earned their degree. Others may not know what the next step should be after they have their degree. Here are 5 things business majors should do once they graduate.
Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good
Everyone is looking for their dream job. The crop of graduates attending their commencement ceremonies, the fresh grads around the nation, and the globe, who are graduating with the same degree as well as the business professional who was just laid off from their job. They are all searching for the unicorn of a dream job.
Looking for the job of one's dreams is important. Work should be fun, fulfilling and rewarding, but people may bypass potential career opportunities to chase the unicorn.
Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good, or, in other words, don't pass up a good job to hold out for a better one that may not exist right now.
Apply with force
It's important to apply oneself upon finding a job, but about the same level of dedication can go into searching for openings and applying for jobs in the first place. Thanks to websites like LinkedIn, Monster, Jobvite, Simply Hired, SmartRecruiters and CyberCoders there are numerous avenues for a job search to take, which can require a certain amount of diligence from the job seeker when searching for postings related to their particular array of business skills.
Companies spell out the qualifications needed for the position such as previous work experience and any soft skills they feel are necessary for success in the job. That said, when applying for positions a candidate shouldn't just apply for the ones they clearly meet or exceed the qualifications for. Applying for business-oriented roles with slightly higher qualifications is a valid strategy as well. That does not mean applying for a management position that requires 10+ year of experience as a fresh grad.
There may, however, be positions that ask for 1-3 years of relevant experience. Applying to these postings can potentially earn an interview for someone who can communicate the ways their skill set or work in a different field makes up for a lack of hands-on experience. Cast a wide net and see how many fish end up get caught. An applicant will never know who might reply back if they never apply in the first place.
Use business school networks
Most hiring managers, CEOs and recruiters attended a college or university. Some of them may even be alumni of the same college or university a candidate just graduated from. This is a built-in network that a grad can use to find a job or learn about the newest information or knowledge being shared in the business world. They may even be able to find a mentor who can help burnish professional skills.
Not only can a grad use the professional network within their school, they can tap the personal network they've built up as well. Maybe a grad took a course that had a few upper classmen in it. Did they become friends with them? Work on a project together? They might know of a few jobs that a fresh grad may not have heard of, or perhaps they can put someone in touch with people who can be of help in getting a start in the professional world.
Decide whether more school might be worth it
Yes, the average graduate probably just spent a number of years earning their degree and might be tired of school. No one relishes the idea of spending more money and time to earn another degree, but it might be a good option to pursue, or at least investigate.
A 2012 Bloomberg Businessweek article points out many business schools are moving away from accepting business majors as the majority of students for their MBA programs. In the Businessweek article Sara Nehar, an assistant dean for admissions at the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business, said Darden wanted 75 percent of their incoming class to have a bachelor's degree in a major other than business.
Nehar also said that business majors who want to stand out when applying for an MBA program should take electives outside of business. As much information as educators try and impart during a student's time in class, there's only so much they can share. Maybe there's a topic a new grad wanted to learn about, but didn't get the chance to. Despite earning a degree in business, maybe someone was also interested in learning about coding languages. Perhaps they wanted to pay a bit more attention to communication skills.
Learning some of these extra skills can potentially make a candidate a more valuable commodity to potential employers, and the candidate won't have to spend the same amount of time and money on earning some of them. There are a number of business-oriented certifications and associate degrees that take less time to finish, but can give graduates the knowledge an employer might desire. It can be worth the extra effort.
Update personal and social resumes
As candidates search for jobs, potential employers may also be searching for candidates. Clubs, internships, community service and awards paint a more complete picture of a candidate, especially a recent graduate, who will probably have less professional experience for a recruiter to reference. Making sure to highlight these on personal and social resumes will give recruiters and hiring managers the chance to know a lot about a candidate before they ever meet them.
Grads should ask themselves if they've done everything to make themselves stand out from the rest of the applicants vying for the same position. Publicly accessible information should be updated constantly so the story of one's previous achievements like internships, academic distinctions and part-time work, is clear and concise. The goal is to paint a picture that makes hiring managers and recruiters want to get in touch to find out more.
For more information about related business schools and programs be sure to explore the listings below.
"As MBA Applicants, Business Majors Face an Uphill Battle," Erin Zlomek, Bloomberg Businessweek, March 26, 2012,
"Bachelor's, master's, and doctor's degrees conferred by postsecondary institutions, by field of study: Selected years, 1970-71 through 2011-12," National Center for Education Statistics, July, 2013,