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Data & Trends

Corporate Recruiters Survey Results Vital for Career Services

For the third year, GMAC has conducted a global survey of employers who hire new MBA graduates. The results offer insight into how recruiters plan their recruiting activities and make decisions about new MBA hires. The survey also reveals recruiters’ wish list of things they want from business schools’ career services offices. Career services offices can use the survey results to evaluate and plan their strategies for helping to place graduates and manage relationships with corporate recruiters.

Corporate Recruiters Survey 2003–04 garnered responses from 1,300 corporate recruiters at 1,004 companies around the world. Below is a sample of the results.

Condition of the Economy, Hiring Plans

There’s some good news about recruiters’ perception of the economy. When we first surveyed recruiters in 2001–02, an astounding 99% reported that they thought the economy was weak. The following year, we saw an insignificant improvement in that outlook, with 96% reporting a weak economy. This year, although 82% of recruiters say the economy is weak, this number represents a significant improvement from last year and suggests that employers of recent MBA graduates are feeling more positive about the state of the economy.

Moreover, fewer recruiters this year than last year say that the state of the economy is taking a bite out of their recruiting plans. When we first conducted the Corporate Recruiters Survey, 69% of recruiters said the weak economy was limiting their plans to recruit new hires. Last year, that number had dropped to 57%. This year, only half the recruiters (an even 50%) say economic weakness is hampering their recruiting plans. Interestingly, recruiters from outside Europe and the United States are the least likely to say the economy is weak but the most likely to say that the state of the economy is constraining their recruiting plans.

Outlook on Hiring Overall and by Job Function

Despite the improved outlook on the part of recruiters, the average number of MBAs they will hire in 2004 has not increased significantly over the number hired last year. It has remained stable. This year, recruiters will hire an average of 9 recent MBA graduates, up from 8 last year.

The number of companies able to hire has increased significantly, though. Only 12% of companies represented in the Corporate Recruiters Survey say they are unable to hire new MBA graduates in 2004, compared with 23% of companies last year.

More good news: Recruiting activity in all job functions is significantly on the rise from last year. The job function for which there is the most recruiting is finance (with 62% of companies recruiting for such positions), followed by marketing (49% of companies recruiting), accounting (30%), general management (29%), operations and logistics (28%), information technology/MIS (26%), consulting (21%), human resources/organization management (17%), and entrepreneurship (7%).

There are significant differences from industry to industry in the type of jobs for which companies recruit. The following list shows the primary job function per industry and the percentage of companies that say they are recruiting for that job function in 2004.

Top Jobs for Which Various Industries Recruit

Making the Most of Recruiting Relationships

Although it seems the general economic and hiring outlook are improving, recruiters are not increasing the number of business schools at which they recruit new MBA hires. For this reason, and because common marketing wisdom has it that it is five times as costly to cultivate new customers as to retain existing ones, the best strategy for career services offices may be to make the most of existing relationships with companies that recruit on campus.

To help provide the kind of interview candidates that will make existing relationships with recruiters more fruitful, it helps to keep in mind which jobs different industries are hiring for and whether recruiters in those industries are likely to be interested in career switchers (those who earn an MBA to enter a new field or function) or career enhancers (those whose MBAs help them advance in their current field). The consulting and high-tech industries are the least willing to hire career switchers, preferring new hires with immediately applicable function- or industry-specific experience. Organizations in the products and services, energy and utilities, and nonprofit/government industries are the most accommodating of career switchers.

Moreover, it helps to know what recruiters look for when they select schools at which to recruit and what kinds of services they would like those schools to provide.

How recruiters decide where to recruit. Employers recruit at the business schools that can provide consistently high-quality job candidates (47% of recruiters say this is an extremely important consideration for them when they choose schools at which to recruit). An equal percentage of recruiters say they recruit at schools where they have had a positive recruiting experience in the past. Thirty-eight percent say they recruit at schools that have yielded successful employees at their companies already.

Services recruiters want b-schools to provide. Recruiters say the biggest barrier to recruiting at a school is limited time, staff, and/or budget resources, and they would most appreciate services that would help mitigate these constraints. At the top of their wish list is the ability to preselect candidates for interview schedules (cited by 55% of recruiters surveyed). In addition, recruiters want online services, including résumé searches, job postings for open positions, and online interview scheduling (cited by 50% of recruiters). They would also like access to faculty members who could identify qualified students for job openings (41%).

For More Information

This information is just a sample of the information Corporate Recruiters Survey 2003–04 provides. To download the executive summary, click here. To learn more about the survey, visit

Schools that participated in the survey received a specialized report of results that they can use to gauge the job market for their graduates, understand employers’ expectations and needs, and benchmark their career services practices against comprehensive global data.

For information about participating in this and other surveys, or to request survey results, contact Rachel Edgington, associate director, research, GMAC, at

GMAC™ and the Graduate Management Admission Council™ are registered trademarks of the Graduate Management Admission Council™. All rights reserved.

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