Finding a job during COVID-19 series: Charlotte Lavelle, Account Manager, Hilti Great Britain

With COVID-19, MBA students may be wondering how realistic their goals are? Is it still possible to change careers? How long will it take me to find a job after my MBA?We interviewed those who have recently secured jobs to discover how the market for jobs for MBA graduates looks post COVID-19, asking them:

What they did to succeed?

Their experiences of the market and COVID-19 hiring freezes

How the pandemic shaped their post MBA job expectations

Name: Charlotte Lavelle

School: Warwick Business School

Graduated: September 2020

Role: Account Manager

Company: Hilti Great Britain

What were your plans before your MBA and how were they impacted by COVID-19?

I did a Full Time MBA at Warwick Business School, as I needed a complete break with my previous career to give me the headspace and focus to decide on the future. I chose Warwick because of their incredible focus on Careers support as I knew I was going to need a lot of support in making decisions about my future. All I knew was that I wanted a big change – a change in profession and in industry – but no idea about the answers to those questions!

The pandemic hit just at the end of my 2nd term at Warwick, and to be honest at that point I hadn’t made any big decisions, I was very much still exploring my options. I had been looking into moving into the retail or food industry, having done quite a lot of networking in those areas, but it soon became clear that they were not going to recover quickly and would not be hiring so I changed my focus. So I removed a few industries from my potential list, but it didn’t massively change my plans. I also just managed my expectations, realising that the if I was without work for some time after the MBA that would be OK as the job market was going to be even tougher than expected. Did COVID-19 make your job search harder?

I think the job search process initially seemed more challenging initially, but actually in practise it wasn’t as bad as I had expected. WBS put on a number of online networking events and some additional careers workshops which I found invaluable. One in particular on how to prepare our ‘elevator pitch’ - how to tell our career story - was the best workshop I attended in the whole year and was a massive part of my future job success. My careers coach was also extremely supportive, booking extra meetings and making sure our online meetings were as productive as they had been in person.

At what point did you secure your role?

Unexpectedly, the answers to many of my next career move questions were answered when I saw an advert on LinkedIn for a company I had never heard of in an industry I had never considered – the construction industry! The role immediately appealed to me as it gave me the direct sales experience I wanted with no sales or construction industry experience required.

After further research, not only did the company seem like a culture that really appealed to me, but I also realised there was also a current Exec MBA student who already worked there. The more I researched the role, the more I knew this company and the role was just what I had been looking for. I applied for the role in August 2020, just as I was completing my dissertation , and then after a number of rounds of interviews, I got offered the position in mid October 2020, to start in January 2021.

The interview process was somewhat disrupted by Covid as normally they would have taken me out on a ‘Field Ride’ to experience a ‘Day in the Life’ with a current employee. However, instead they organised a number of very informal ‘coffee’s’ on Teams with current employees, which were fantastic and so useful. I really appreciate the time and effort they put into making the whole process as easy and informative as it could be – it not only meant that I felt like I really knew the company before I joined them, but it showed me just how much this company cared about hiring the right people.

What advice would you give to MBAs currently job searching?

I think everyone has really different experiences, and are looking for different things, but for me some advice would be:

Getting my ‘elevator pitch’ and career story right and in line was vital for getting my role. When HR first called me, they were pretty honest with me saying they weren’t quite sure why I wanted to do this job. But once I had explained to them my story, and what I wanted out of my future career, they could immediately see that I would fit really well. Everything else flowed from there really!

Think outside the box! I never considered the Construction Industry, and I had also never heard of Hilti before, but just because you haven’t heard of them doesn’t mean they aren’t worth investigating. So keep an open mind and consider industries that have kept working throughout the pandemic. Companies who people don’t immediately think about have to work hard at attracting good people – so they often actually look after their employees more than those who everyone wants to work for!

Use your MBA network – it really works! It not only meant we could have an honest conversation about the company, but helped frame how the MBA could help me in my future role. But be careful how you approach them and be specific when you contact people on LinkedIn.

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