On the MBA hiring front, the Great Recession keeps receding further and further in the rearview. The latest Graduate Management Admission Council survey of corporate recruiters makes clear that times are as good as they’ve ever been, if not better: This year, the annual Corporate Recruiters Survey Report found that 86% of companies across the globe plan to hire recent MBA graduates, up from 79% in 2016.
GMAC found that the job outlook is bright for MBAs across the board, in every region and in every industry, in terms of finding employment and how much MBA graduates can expect to be paid. A large number of employers that plan to hire new MBAs in 2017 plan to increase (42%) or maintain (47%) the number of recent MBAs they hire compared with last year, with demand strongest in the United States and Asia-Pacific, where 9 in 10 respondents plan to hire MBA graduates in 2017. In the startup world, meanwhile, 74% of new companies plan to hire MBAs in 2017, up from 52% in 2016.
It’s not just MBAs who will benefit from the salubrious hiring market: GMAC reports that a greater percentage of employers plan to hire specialty business master’s graduates in 2017, too, with 59% of companies globally — and 70% of manufacturing companies — saying they will hire recent Master in Management graduates (up from 50% in 2016); 42% of employers reporting plans to hire Master of Accounting grads (compared with 39% last year); and 48% of employers planning to hire Master of Finance grads (up from 45%). Overall, 71% of employers will hire recent business graduates to fill positions in marketing, business development, or finance.
“Once again, this year’s report brings to light the continued value of the MBA degree to the marketplace,” says Megan Hendricks, executive director of MBA CSEA, a global alliance of graduate business career management professionals and employers, in a news release accompanying GMAC’s report. “The increased interest in specialty master’s talent provides further indication of the relevance of these programs at our member schools.”
MBAs, SPECIALTY MASTER’S ARE THE PATH TO BIG BUCKS
While job opportunities for MBAs are on the rise, GMAC found that salaries are, for the most part, as well: More than half of employers (52%) report they will increase starting salaries for new MBA hires in 2017 at or above the inflation rate. The projected median base starting salary for recent MBA grads in the U.S. this year is $110,000, up $5,000 from last year — and an 83% premium over recent bachelor’s-degree holders in the U.S., whose median starting salary is $60,000.
Which industries pay MBAs the most? No surprise: Finance and accounting, at a median salary of $120,000.
“Salaries have consistently gone up over time,” Gregg Schoenfeld, GMAC research director, tells Poets&Quants. “We’ve conducted this survey every year since 2002, and salaries have risen every year except during the recession era, when they remained relatively flat.”
GMAC reports that median base salaries for business master’s degree graduates in the U.S. range from $70,000 (Master of Accounting) to $95,000 (Master in Marketing), and represent a premium of 17% to 58% over bachelor’s-level starting salaries in 2017. Most U.S. companies, GMAC found, will maintain 2016 starting salary levels for graduates of MBA (51%), Master of Finance (55%), Master in Information/Systems (57%), and Master in Data Analytics (58%) programs, GMAC found; 65% will offer a signing bonus, with median signing bonuses falling around $15,500.
TRUMP EFFECT NOT YET OBVIOUS IN COMPANY HIRING
GMAC’s 2017 recruiter report was not without a few surprises. Chief among them, Schoenfeld says, is the continued willingness — even eagerness — of companies to recruit international candidates, despite the acknowledged negative environment for work-related immigration in the U.S. and UK — which GMAC euphemistically terms “political uncertainty.” Still, international hiring plans remain steady, GMAC found, as 3 in 5 (59%) companies globally plan to hire (27%) or are open to hiring (32%) an international MBA or business master’s candidate.
In the U.S., 55% of companies either plan to hire (28%) or are open to hiring (27%) an international candidate in 2017, GMAC found, a marginal increase from 2016, when 25% of companies expressed an intention to hire such candidates. Still, that means 45% have no plans to hire international candidates in 2017, a greater share than employers in other regions.
“The biggest surprise to me is that the international hiring is still maintaining among companies,” Schoenfeld says. “In the U.S., it’s basically on par with last year, when we asked whether they are planning to hire or are willing to hire international candidates. With everything that happened politically, I was expecting that to drop. However, it has basically maintained. To me that’s a bit of a shock.
“Despite all the rhetoric about not allowing people to come to the U.S. and work anymore, companies in our survey were still intending to hire them. Think partly if the travel ban had held up in court, that might have had an effect; I think companies are biding their time, basically waiting to see if anything that comes out of the political environment actually sticks.”
‘COMPANIES KEEN TO HIRE … INTERNATIONAL GRADUATES’
What U.S. companies are most likely to hire international candidates? Tech. And it’s a big leap from 2016, with 50% expressing plans to do so compared with 27% in 2016. Manufacturing companies, at just 4%, are least likely to hire such candidates. Larger companies are more likely to hire international candidates (34%) compared with smaller (13%), and startups aren’t very interested, either, with only 7% saying they will hire international candidates. Interestingly, 57% of startups say they are willing to hire such candidates, but not this year.
For those companies that are not willing to hire international candidates, the most common reasons cited are legal documentation and expense. But these concerns do not, so far, seem to be dampening actual hiring practices.
“Despite the political uncertainty about the status of immigration and work visas in the United States and other parts of the world, companies are keen to hire graduates from this year’s MBA and business master’s programs, including international candidates,” Sangeet Chowfla, GMAC president and CEO, says in a statement. “This signifies the value these programs create for students and the vital role their skillsets bring employers.”