Upbeat Prospects for 2012 MBA Jobs

While the world continues to struggle through much economic uncertainty, there’s more good news on the MBA job front.

Not only do more companies plan to hire in 2012, they plan to hire at similar or increased levels compared to 2011, according to a new study published today (Dec. 13) by the Graduate Management Admission Council.

The study of 216 companies worldwide showed that 74% of them plan to hire MBAs in 2012, up from 58% this year. Some 59% intend to hire specialized master’s degree candidates, up from 38%, while 51% expect to hire master in management graduates, up from 36%.

“If hiring projections for 2012 remain as robust as actual hiring this year, the class of 2012 can look forward to entering a markedly improved job market next year upon graduation,” GMAC said in its report.

Companies also plan to hire for increasing numbers of positions in 2012. The percentage of companies expecting to increase the number of management graduates was greatest for MBAs (22%) compared with specialized master’s (11%) or the master in management (8%). Next year, nearly four times as many companies are planning to increase the number of MBAs they hire, GMAC said.


Nearly a third, or 32%, of the companies planning to hire MBAs in 2012 expect to increase the annual base salary of these hires compared with 2011, according to the report. As one survey respondent noted, competition for the same individuals is one market force driving the projected salary increases: “From our current recruiting processes, the candidates we have offered [jobs] are all considering multiple offers. The market seems to be robust at the moment.”

Another employer told GMAC, “While (the) economic/business climate is tough, the competition to hire new grads is heating up and companies are trying to engage students earlier each year.”

A spokesperson for GMAC said the study showed no slow down in hiring from employers in finance or accounting. There have been reports that prospects for MBAs who want to work on Wall Street have dimmed in the face of massive layoffs there. But GMAC did not pick this up in its report. That could be due to the responding sample in the poll. Roughly 14% of the respondents in the poll were from finance and accounting, but those respondents did not include Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Barclays Capital, or Bank of America/Merrill Lynch–all major MBA market makers.

Chances of employment on Wall Street is causing some jitters among MBA students. “My take is that students are a little bit apprehensive about what recruiting will look like, but we haven’t really seen any cancellations,” says Maryellen Reilly Lamb, the newly appointed director of Wharton’s Career Management Center. “Students are trying to be fairly broad in their thinking. We have a lot of students who are looking at the bulge brackets and at boutique banks (such as Evercore or Peter J. Solomon). They are not closing their minds. Students are trying to be fairly smart about hedging themselves. In 2008 and 2009, many of these guys were working on Wall Street or for banks so they know what this looks like. They are walking into this with their eyes open.”


This year’s poll was the first time GMAC asked survey respondents about the number of paid and unpaid internships that they offer to all job candidate types. For 2012, between 54 percent and 72 percent of survey respondents reported that they plan to offer paid internships; compared with 17 percent to 25 percent that plan to offer unpaid internships. The majority of companies offering paid internships plan to have the same number or more opportunities available in 2012 than they did in the past.

GMAC added, however, that “MBA students may have an easier time finding a paid internship since more companies plan to offer internship opportunities to these students, as well as increase the total number of paid internships they will make available.”

The report also showed that prospects for international students studying for an MBA in the U.S. remain difficult. Companies that do seek out international applicants frequently are those with offices worldwide, GMAC said. “Oftentimes these corporations will seek recent graduates who are willing to return to their home country to work in the company’s satellite or subsidiary office.”

  • Andrea

    John – Excellent article. Would you be able to recommend which job boards new MBA grads should be looking into (i.e. Monster, Career Builder, etc.)? Or more specifically, what positions (titles) new MBA, Management grads should be looking out for when conducting “key word” searches in efforts to target positions from the 216 respondent companies mentioned in your article? Any advise would be greatly appreciated.

  • This should be obvious

    John Byrne,
    My condolences. There is a risk of these messages turning into the BusinessWeek forum, and we all know how that turned out.

  • Alois de Novo

    From the depths of xoxo, Matt tells me I’m a dumb.

    Matt, you go right ahead and let those LSAT practice books draw conclusions for you.

    Dude, I have YLS grads working for me.

    And, though I never took the LSAT, you may reasonably conclude that I did well enough on the GMAT.

    You are facing a complete meltdown of all your hopes and dreams. Don’t believe me and I’ll just call myself Cassandra.

  • Matt

    Alias de Novo,

    Please never crack open an LSAT book. Your mind would explode if you truly believe this statement, “If BCG, McKinsey GS, MS and JPM didn’t respond to the survey, you may reasonably presume that absolutely all of the firms targeted by elite MBAs (this includes PE/VC/HF land) have fully withdrawn from the market for MBAs.”

  • Alois de Novo

    @skeptical: Nothing “smug” about sounding the alarm. The MBA party is over for the forseeable future — the “new normal” in the OECD countries will indeed disappoint the hopes of several post millennial generations.

    And, yes, there are ways to “hedge” one’s investment in an MBA. I like the idea of a long position in CDS on certain Eurobanks. Not sure retail investors can lay their hands on that sort of thing.

  • Skeptical this time

    Alois de Novo,

    So go short financial stocks and long gold. What’s the point in being so smug on a site dedicated to upper-middle class 27 year olds?

  • Alois de Novo

    Yes, really. There’s a manifest pattern. Even if they had responded in the most optimistic terms, which I doubt would have been the case, you can be assured that economic conditions in our country will materially worsen by the Spring and Summer due to total annihilation of the European economy and financial sector. Many people throughout various walks of life will be unemployed. Currently graduating MBAs face dire employment prospects. Recent MBA graduates will be laid off.

  • Alois,

    Not really. All it means is that they didn’t respond to a survey.

  • Alois de Novo

    This is exceptionally wrongheadedly optimistic. At best, offers will be extended that will end up being rescinded or worse.

    If BCG, McKinsey GS, MS and JPM didn’t respond to the survey, you may reasonably presume that absolutely all of the firms targeted by elite MBAs (this includes PE/VC/HF land) have fully withdrawn from the market for MBAs.

    Got it?