MBAS LOOK FOR OPPORTUNITIES IN STRATEGY & MANAGEMENT
Variety is also the name of the game when it comes to searching for functional roles, but again a clear winner emerged from a crowded field. Candidates looked for roles in Strategy in 15% of searches, with Management (12.1%) and Consulting (11.7%) jockeying for second and third, following by Finance (10.1%), Business Development (9.8%), and Marketing (9.4%). Honorable mentions include Operations, Product Management, Entrepreneurship, and Data Analysis.
The primacy of strategy and management roles in MBA searches is not surprising, as these (somewhat nebulous) terms capture a great deal about what motivates many students to apply to business school in the first place: MBAs want to work in leadership positions, making decisions that affect the strategic direction of their firms. Obviously, these ambitions are not often realized in full-time roles immediately after graduation — except perhaps for the growing number of MBA entrepreneurs — but candidates are most attracted to employers who demonstrate an understanding of this interest, and branding that incorporates tangible career advancement information is especially effective with MBAs.
THE BIG APPLE VS. SILICON VALLEY
MBAs also love big cities, apparently. Among location filters, New York City was the clear winner with a 16.5% share of searches, while the San Francisco Bay Area (13%) and Washington, D.C. (12.9%) were neck and neck for second, with Chicago, Los Angeles, Austin, and Boston also attracting strong interest. There were fewer searches on the state level, with only two searches separating Colorado and Texas at Nos. 1 and 2, with North Carolina, Virginia, California, and Georgia also receiving some interest.
When it comes to location, however, MBAs are an adaptable bunch. When asked about their geographic preference flexibility in the profile creation process, fewer than a quarter said they were set on their eventual destination, with more than 60% expressing geographic flexibility. For most MBAs, it appears that location is a nice perk but not a dealbreaker.
SIZE: BIG COMPANIES STILL HAVE BIG INFLUENCE
The traditional, on-campus process in MBA recruiting has long been dominated by companies from the Fortune 1000, primarily because they were often the only employers with the resources to maintain an expensive in-person recruiting process. And while MBAs are still most interested in the largest companies — 10,000+ employees was our most popular choice for company size — the differences are slight, with startups (fewer than 100 employees) receiving nearly as many searches despite taking the last-place spot in our company size rankings.
Another indication that company size isn’t a big deal for MBAs? It’s one of the least-employed filters, with most users narrowing the employer pool first by industry, role, and location before looking to company size as a criterion. Again, the priority for MBAs on our platform is to work at a firm where they can make an impact, and while large corporations are able to leverage the most resources, smaller companies can offer career advancement that’s simply not feasible at larger employers.
LOTS OF OPTIONS, LOTS OF INTEREST
While there is plenty that today’s MBA students have in common — lofty career ambitions, formidable intelligence, comfort with technology — the unmistakable conclusion that we take from poring over the available data is that business schools are attracting students with increasingly varied interests and long-term career goals. As perhaps the most versatile of all academic degrees, it should be no surprise that MBAs attract such a broad swath of working professionals, and employers would do well to adapt aging or outdated recruiting brands to speak to the new generation’s value set.
Zach Mayo is the chief operating officer of RelishCareers, the marketplace for MBA hiring. Available to incoming and current students and alumni from network schools, RelishCareers gives candidates early access to employer branding and MBA-specific career opportunities. Students entering school in the fall can create a free profile to get early exposure to top MBA recruiters and explore featured employer pages.