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B-Schools Report Tech, Consulting Boom

Recruitment by consulting and tech firms is on the rise once again, according to a new survey

Employers of MBAs are on the lookout for talent. Some are looking harder than others.

The MBA Career Services & Employer Alliance has released the latest batch of data from its 2017 MBA CSEA Fall Recruiting Trends Survey and they show business schools reporting strong recruiting activity for MBA and specialized master’s students in the technology and consulting sectors — as well as others — compared with last fall. The report, based on surveys completed between January and February 2018 by 94 MBA CSEA member schools (77% of which were in the United States), shows that over 71% of responding institutions reported an increase in recruiting activity for the tech sector for full-time MBA students — a significant, 18-point jump from the 53% that reported an increase in the 2016 survey. Rounding out the top five sectors for increases in recruiting activity: healthcare (50.6%), consulting (45.8%), financial services (39.8%), and real estate (35.5%).

According to MBA CSEA, only one sector reported a decrease in the percentage of institutions reporting an increase in full-time MBA hiring: government. The sectors with the largest percentage of institutions reporting a decrease in recruiting activity were consumer packaged goods (26.8%), energy (23.8%), and consulting (20.5%). Nonprofits, hospitality, and consumer packaged goods reported the largest changes versus the 2016 results in terms of percentage of respondents reporting a decrease.


The MBA CSEA is a professional association for individuals in graduate business career services and employers. It has more than 800 members at more than 200 schools worldwide. This time last year it reported what some considered an alarming slowdown in MBA recruiting, announcing that just 41% of schools reported an increase in on-campus recruiting for full-time MBA students — a 24-point drop from the previous year, when 65% of respondents reported an increase. Similar results were seen for part-time MBA programs — 23% of schools reported a recruiting increase, a 23-point drop — and for specialized master’s programs, with 23% reporting a recruiting increase, a 32-point decline.

Full-time MBA programs identifying themselves as ranked from Nos. 21-50 reported the sharpest decrease (42%) in recruiting in 2016; in comparison, in 2015, 83% of this group reported increased recruiting activity. “It’s difficult to say for certain” what might have led to the mid-ranked MBA programs experiencing such a recruiting reversal, MBA CSEA Executive Director Megan Hendricks told Poets&Quants last year. “We have observed in the past that during a strong economy where recruiting is more competitive, companies tend to expand the number of schools at which they recruit.

“As most companies tend to assess their recruiting needs on a yearly basis due to changing needs, it could be that schools that were added during a strong economy are the first to see a reduction when recruiting is more stable.”


Led by tech, the turnaround seems well underway. Besides leading the way in full-time MBA recruitment, 60% of responding institutions reported an increase in the technology sector for recruiting activity for part-time MBA students, up from 41% in the 2016 survey; and nearly 58% of institutions reported an increase in tech sector recruiting activity for specialized master’s students. This, too, is a significant jump, up from 44% in the 2016 survey.

For part-time MBAs, consulting (35.0%), financial services (31.6%), healthcare (31.6%), and energy (31.6%) round out the top five sectors in terms of increases in recruiting activity. For specialized master’s programs, the top five is rounded out by financial services (57.1%), consulting (50.0%), healthcare (32.1%), and real estate (21.7%).

In keeping with previously announced findings and Hendricks’ statement last year that “We’re hearing from schools that companies are increasingly cautious right now due to the uncertainty about immigration and the H-1B lottery,” MBA CSEA also provided a snapshot of international student recruitment that shows a clear decline in activity across the board. Tech again leads the way with 41.9% saying there has been increased recruitment activity, followed by consulting (29.0%), but after that it gets grim. In three sectors — hospitality, manufacturing, and media/entertainment — no one reported increased activity, while four — consulting (41.9%), consumer packaged goods (44.0%), government (50.0%), and media (42.1%) — reported decreases of over 40%.

(See the next page for MBA CSEA’s charts on B-school perceptions of industry recruiting activity.)