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Employers Poll Finds Early Optimism for 2012

Early hiring projections for 2012 are optimistic for many companies, even as economic uncertainty hovers over their corporate hiring plans.

More companies are planning to hire staff in every category in 2012 than in 2011, and most of them plan to increase or maintain the number of new hires, according to the 2011 Year-End Employers Poll.

The poll of 229 hiring managers at 216 companies worldwide taken in November summarizes actual 2011 hiring and previews 2012 hiring plans for different types of employees, including MBA and other master’s-level business school graduates. This year’s poll offers details on the demand for new hires and the challenging situation employers face even amid improving conditions. “While economic/business climate is tough, the competition to hire new grads is heating up, and companies are trying to engage students earlier each year,” noted one respondent.

That’s good news for the MBA and other master’s-level graduating business students approaching the job search. In general, 74 percent of companies polled plan to hire MBAs next year, compared with just 57 percent of companies had planned to hire MBAs in 2011. Additionally, 22 percent of all companies plan to hire more MBAs in 2012 than they did in 2011.

Similarly, 59 percent of employers polled plan to hire specialized business master’s graduates, and 51 percent plan to hire master in management graduates in 2012. Those proportions are up from just 38 percent and 35 percent who planned to hire in those respective categories in 2011.

Other key findings from the poll include:

  • Overall, a quarter to a third of companies plan to increase base salaries and roughly two-thirds plan to keep salaries similar to 2011 levels for all candidate levels, including direct-from-industry experienced hires, bachelor’s degree holders, and MBAs and other master’s degree holders. Of the companies planning to hire MBAs, 32 percent plan to increase base salary and 65 percent plan to keep them the same.
  • The 2012 outlook is positive for MBA internships, with 69 percent of companies offering paid MBA internships and 22 percent increasing the number of internships offered.
  • Estimates from employers about their plans to hire were largely accurate (93 percent to 96 percent) when compared with their report of actual hiring in 2011.

“For the past few years, companies have been pushing to improve performance and productivity, expand the customer base, and launch new products, while at the same time reducing costs and overcoming economic challenges,” said survey research manager Rebecca Estrada, who conducted the poll. “At some point, companies have to up their hiring to meet their new goals. This poll suggests that 2012 may be the year that companies ramp up their hiring.”

Beyond this preview of the job market, schools can gain a more comprehensive picture of the employment landscape and key skills for 2012 graduate business talent with two free surveys from GMAC researchers. Registration is now open for business schools to sign up to participate in the 2012 Corporate Recruiters Survey and Global Management Education Graduates Surveys, before January 27. To participate, schools facilitate a GMAC survey of their corporate recruiters and graduating students, respectively. For their efforts, schools receive the survey results in advance, as well as interactive benchmarking reports that allow them to compare data on their recruiters or students with aggregate data from five or more peer schools.

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