MBA talent remains in demand, even as businesses deal with a weak economy. That’s one of the key findings from the 2008 Corporate Recruiters Survey, conducted by GMAC in partnership with the MBA Career Services Council and European Foundation for Management Development.
The survey finds 6 percent growth in the proportion of employers seeking to hire MBA graduates. Nearly two-thirds of respondents (64 percent) said they had hired MBA graduates in 2007, and even more employers (70 percent) plan to hire MBAs in 2008. Coupled with a projected 11-percent increase in the average number of hires, these findings point to a positive job outlook for MBA graduates.
In terms of salary offers, three out of four employers (75 percent) expect to increase the annual base salary of graduating MBAs in 2008 compared with 2007. Executives and managers project that in 2008 a typical MBA candidate can expect a starting annual salary of $89,621—nearly 4 percent more than last year. The average total annual salary offered by respondents in the United States is $85,581, compared to $98,617 offered by companies in the European Union, and $50,771 offered by companies in all other world regions. Average total annual compensation for recent MBA graduate hires is expected to be the highest in consulting ($111,539) and finance or accounting ($110,114).
Nearly half of employers that recruit on campus (49 percent) anticipate that their on-campus recruitment efforts will remain the same in 2008. However, proportionally more employers with firms that aggressively pursue MBA recruitment (15 percent), compared with those who consider MBA graduates but do not actively recruit them (9 percent), plan to decrease on-campus recruitment in 2008 compared with 2007. Still, on-campus recruitment effort by firms that actively searched for MBA talent was almost double that of companies that did not.
Consulting and finance firms remain the top employers of MBA graduates. There is also hiring strength in healthcare, pharmaceutical, and products and services firms, where recruiters reported they are more likely to hire MBA graduates in 2008 compared to 2007. While nonprofit or government organizations were least likely to be involved in on-campus recruitment (44 percent) in 2007, they were also the most likely to report plans to increase their on-campus recruiting effort in 2008.
The MBA continues to be more attractive to corporate recruiters than other degrees or backgrounds. In 2008, employers are more likely to report plans to hire MBA graduates (70 percent) than recent graduates with a bachelor’s or first university degree (54 percent), experienced direct-from-industry candidates (50 percent), graduates from disciplines other than business (40 percent), specialized master’s in business graduates (34 percent), or graduates who hold MSc degrees in business or management (21 percent).
The survey confirms that employers value their MBA-holding employees for their business management knowledge, communication skills, technical or quantitative skills, and ability to apply business discipline to any job or function.
The study also found that MBA graduates tend to stay with their employers. Employers report that 65 percent of their 2003 hires, 74 percent of 2005 hires, and 90 percent of 2007 hires have continued working for the company. Employers attribute their ability to retain hires to their providing challenging and interesting assignments (99 percent) and opportunities for growth and development (98 percent).
MBA recruitment differed significantly by world regions. Employers in the United States (69 percent) are significantly more likely to actively recruit MBA graduates compared to employers in other world regions (52 percent) and in the European Union (42 percent). Additionally, the share of on-campus recruitment effort in the search of graduate business students was by far greater in the United States (61 percent) than in other world regions, including Europe (40–43 percent).