Why MBA Schools Need to Teach a Course on What to Do When You Get Fired


I have spoken to numerous organizations across the country for years on networking.  Over the last few years many of these meetings are attended by people in transition looking for their next position.  I am also one of the founders of Laguna Niguel Connectors that has over 2000 members and has become a community for those in transition and others who help and support them.

What I have seen over the years is that most people don’t have a clue on what to do when they lose their jobs. Nada.  Many people who were in senior management with the greatest degrees from the best schools can be the worst at finding their way back on the treadmill.  Nobody has been trained on what to do when you are let go.

A few years ago I read an article in theOC Register saying that if you were 30,  the chances of you getting fired in the next 20 years were 90%.  Five years ago many people didn’t believe that stat but now everyone does.

I think that the majority of MBA schools probably think they don’t need courses on what to do when you are in transition because they think their curriculums and degrees will make their students bullet proof.  That is not true in the new normal of high unemployment.  The unemployment rate in the U.S. is 9.2% currently.  In Canada, the unemployment rate is 7.4%.  That hasn’t been the case for decades.

The academic knowledge that people learn in MBA Schools is invaluable.  However it doesn’t prepare people for the world of transition.  The Alumni groups of most schools are not equipped to handle all the needs of their graduates who are now among the unemployed.  If you think that the Alumni Affairs Department is going to get you your next job with their diminished resources you will be highly disappointed.

Getting a job today requires a lot of street smarts and excellent networking skills.  Those skills aren’t taught in schools.

I see many people who are new to the world of transition and they are lost.  They worked in busy environments where they had too much to do and were too busy to network.  Then they immediately enter a world where their lives aren’t full of what things to do, deadlines, and meetings.  Many long to return to boring meetings.

They don’t know how to file for unemployment, what a COBRA is. (Could they have picked a worse name for transitional medical coverage?)

MBA Schools have trained people on how to be successful in the workplace. But what if that workplace doesn’t exist anymore?  You haven’t been trained on how to find a job.

All schools should have a core curriculum how to network and how to build a lifelong referral network.  They need to educate their students that networking is a lifelong pursuit and not just something you do when you are looking for a job.  Your data base is worth more than your MBA in life. Schools need to understand that who you know versus what you know is increasingly true in the new normal.

Schools should encourage their students to have their own personal website and business cards.  They need to teach their students how to use Linkedin and social media even if they are training engineers. They need to instill a knowledge in today’s students that they will be forever a personal brand working within a variety of corporate brands and I don’t think that is happening.

Schools need to teach how to make you bulletproof within an organization.  Is that going to come through your MBA or your extensive and broad base of resources in your network?

What is more important for you?  That your kids have an MBA or a strong network?  It’s time to change curriculums to compete in the new world.

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10 thoughts on “Why MBA Schools Need to Teach a Course on What to Do When You Get Fired

  1. ravi

    I feel you should come out with 1-2-3 solutions clearly as mid career trauma may have other aspects such as pyscho-social and economical factors.It’s not go so easy as going with blogs and v-cards


  2. Vera

    Great post Hank! I am currently “in transition” after being let go. What you say is so true! I’m fortunate in that I have developed a pretty strong network over the years and I’m truly grateful for this, since this is how I’m going to find new work. I’m starting my own marketing consulting business and I know that my network will help me get started! I can’t believe how many people don’t network, aren’t interested in meeting new people or don’t know how to build/maintain business relationships. Hopefully the rise of socia media people will help people connect more. And I agree that curriuculums in schools (not just business schools but schools of all types) should include “how to network” courses.

  3. Hi Hank! I certainly can relate to your article. I have just graduated from MBA and I am at the stage where I am trying to build my own network and gear my efforts to a career that I wish to pursue and develop in time. I do agree when you said that networking is a lifelong process, nurturing your network is not on a specific-need-basis but a lifetime process.

  4. Hank,
    As always, great article. This is interesting, because I have been fortunate to work very closely with John Hall, teaching and Advanced Career Strategies class at Brandman University. It is not currently part of the MBA program, but offered under extended education,

  5. Hey Hank!

    I totally agree with the need. I have a little different take of the broader issue. I think classes should be taught beginning in high school, continuing in higher ed, through grad school that we as individuals should plan to work for ourselves. Build a company of Me. If you work for yourself, with your own mission, strategies and objectives–regardless if you deliver your products or services solely to the same client for 30 years–the problem you write about is solved. Me, Inc.’s primary client is your current employer but if and when the needs of Me, Inc. and those of your current client no longer align it’s time to find a new client. With this mentality, Me, Inc. is always prospecting.

  6. I strongly agree, I think one should be proactive and build a network before they need one. I was at a recent networking event and someone asked me “so you are employed and you come out to networking events?” I was surprised by this and surprised by the number of people in transition and starting to network.

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