The job market for MBAs continues to be strong — but there are few signs that it may be weakening. The Graduate Management Admission Council’s 2018 Corporate Recruiters Survey, released today (June 21), shows that jobs are there for the earning, with 81% of more than 1,000 responding companies saying they plan to hire MBA graduates in 2018 and more than half — 52% — saying they plan to increase MBA starting base salaries this year. But those numbers are down slightly from the high-water mark of last year.
The data reflect a slight decline in projected hiring among U.S. and European employers compared to 2017’s hiring plans: 85% of responding U.S. companies and 81% of companies overall plan to hire recent MBA graduates in 2018; last year, 90% of both U.S. and Asia-Pacific companies and 86% of companies globally planned to hire MBAs. This year demand for MBA talent is strongest in Asia-Pacific, where, once again, 90% of responding employers plan to make MBA hires.
Relevant to the general decline, a key area that has seen softening is U.S. and others’ employers’ intent to hire international business school graduates. Forty-seven percent of U.S. companies said this year they plan to, or are willing to, hire international talent in 2018, down from 55% in 2017. In comparison, about the same percentage of European employers plan to or are willing to hire international talent in 2018 (65%) as 2017 (64%) — however, Asia-Pacific employers are pulling back (58% from 67%), as are Latin-American employers (68% from 72%).
“Over the past several years we have tracked positive trends in hiring of MBA and business master’s graduates,” Sangeet Chowfla, GMAC president and CEO, says in an announcement of the findings. “Graduates are commanding compensation premiums and companies are increasing starting salaries. The softening in the intent-to-hire numbers for the U.S. and Europe reflects the global economic growth numbers we are seeing, and the prevailing political and student mobility issues. In the Asia-Pacific region, hiring projections have remained strong. From the overall analysis, we see that MBA hiring overall is strong, but we are seeing the mix shift geographically.”
A SLIGHT DOWNTURN IN INTENT-TO-HIRE — BUT WHY?
Why the (slight) downturn? “This dip in stated intent by U.S. employers to hire international graduates is potentially a response to the changes — or potential changes — to visa and immigration regulations,” Chowfla says. “Even though H1-B visa rules haven’t yet changed, there is a perception that they might change in the near future, and some employers may be waiting to see what will happen.
“The jobs market in the U.S. right now is robust, and companies are constantly having to evaluate their prospects and how best to fill their available roles with strong talent.”
Adds Jamie Belinne, assistant dean at Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston and president of the board of directors of the MBA Career Services and Employer Alliance (MBA CSEA), which partners with GMAC on the Corporate Recruiters Survey: “The GMAC survey reflects MBA CSEA’s recent Recruiting Trends Survey, where 68% of schools indicated a decline in hiring for international full-time MBA students compared to the same time last year. As a result, many schools are more actively promoting a global job search as well as creating connections with employers in students’ home countries.”
International students themselves are paying attention. GMAC’s own data from last year suggest they themselves may be looking away from the U.S. amid escalating anti-immigration rhetoric.
U.S. IS WHERE THE BEST MBA MONEY IS
GMAC has compiled its annual report since 2011. It offers an overview of current employer hiring demand for MBA and business master’s graduates and breaks down hiring practices and trends by industry and world region. This year’s survey was conducted in February and March 2018 in association with career services offices at 96 graduate B-schools worldwide. The survey responses were received from 1,066 employers in 42 countries worldwide who work directly with participating business schools. In July, GMAC will publish a companion report regarding skills sought by employers.
Among the key findings of the just-released report: MBA money, as Chowfla alludes to, continues to be good. Grads around the world are commanding a salary premium compared to their direct-from-industry and bachelor’s degree counterparts, but the difference is most pronounced in the U.S., where recent MBA grads earn a projected median base starting salary $105,000 in 2018, compared with $85,000 for direct-from-industry new hires and $65,000 for bachelor’s degree new hires. However, the difference between starting pay across regions can be dramatic: European companies will offer a median starting base salary of US$65,000 to MBA hires and US$25,000 to Master in Management hires, while Asia-Pacific companies will offer a median starting base salary of US$35,000 to MBA hires and US$35,000 to MiM hires.
In signing bonuses, too, the U.S. is the place to be. Most U.S. companies (56%) will offer signing bonuses to new business school hires in 2018 (median $10,500), while signing bonuses are less common among non-U.S. employers: Thirty-six percent of Asia-Pacific companies, 30% of Latin American companies, and 20% of European companies will offer signing bonuses. The median bonuses will be US$3,500, US$3,000, and US$9,500, respectively.