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GMAC Offers Recruiting Intelligence to Help You Recruit Intelligently

With record numbers of women and non-US citizens taking the GMAT exam, the pool of potential business school applicants may be more diverse than ever. Admissions offices need to be even more sophisticated about tailoring messages to different students, and GMAC analysts have found new insights to help recruiters do just that.

Using findings from 30,000 prospective students responding to the mba.com Registrants Survey, the GMAC research team shared implications for targeted recruitment strategies in an October webinar titled “Recruiting Intelligence: Using Student Decision-Making and School Selection Criteria to Drive Messaging.” The presentation focused on three segments: women; US African Americans and Hispanics; and citizens from Germany, France, and the United Kingdom.

Women

There are striking differences among women in when and how much time they spend considering business school─and therefore the time in which schools can influence these decisions. Globally, women typically spend about 23 months after they finish undergraduate degrees to consider business school, and then take another 21 months to register on mba.com, sit for the GMAT exam, and submit applications. Women in the US track that pattern fairly closely.

For women in China, though, the process starts earlier and is much shorter. Chinese women tend to start thinking about business school, including specialized programs such as accountancy programs, well before they finish their bachelor’s degrees. Upon graduation, they take an average of just 21 months to decide and apply. If schools want to “inspire, engage, and convert prospective female students” from China, said Michelle Sparkman Renz, GMAC director of research communications, the typical business school fairs and other standard marketing venues come along too late. Schools need to reach out to those women while they are undergraduates.

Sparkman Renz also said that as Chinese women look at different business schools, they rely on advice from their professors much more than their peers around the world do. When recruiters reach out to undergraduate Chinese women, she suggested, they could also host events to help educate their professors about MBA and other graduate management education programs.

African Americans and Hispanics

“Like most people around the world, US citizens are eager for higher education in order to learn and advance their career,” said Gregg Schoenfeld, GMAC director of management education research. But understanding the subtle differences in the motivations and concerns of African Americans and Hispanics may help schools fine-tune their messages to them.

In general, Schoenfeld said, African Americans seek more competitive advantage in the job market, whereas Hispanics are more highly motivated by personal career interests. Both groups are more concerned about the financial demands of pursuing a business degree than other US citizens, so proactively addressing financial concerns may resonate with them.

There are also important differences in where these subgroups seek information about business schools. Because African Americans are most likely to seek advice from professors and advisors, engaging their mentors is also important. And because word-of-mouth and school-related sources of information are more important to Hispanics, it may be worth engaging Hispanic professional and campus groups.

Germany, France, and the UK

Together, German, French, and British citizens account for half the Europeans sitting for the GMAT exam. All three groups tend to rely less on word-of-mouth or college professors and more on school-specific and school-related sources of information, such as websites, rankings, and brochures. “This underscores the importance of getting your materials and your website information out to these candidates,” Sparkman Renz said.

Enjoyment─a sense of free time, friends, and travel─resonates with these groups much more than family or career do. “Think about your brochures and websites showing people only in business attire,” Sparkman Renz said. “It may be better to reach these candidates with images of students in more casual clothes, sitting around a table engaging in conversation.”

The mba.com Registrants Survey and slides from the Recruiting Intelligence webinar are available on gmac.com. You can also register for GMAC’s next webinar, featuring highlights from GMAC’s 2010 research studies looking at information critical to admissions, marketing, program design, and career services, to be held December 9.

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