Recruiters and MBAs will find each other, one way or another. In a new survey, sizable majorities of business schools report increases in both student and employer engagement in on-campus or virtual MBA recruitment activities this fall. A chief cause of the growth: rising comfort level with on-campus recruitment as coronavirus fears subside.
MBA Career Services & Employer Alliance, which counts more than 250 B-schools among its membership, released its latest member survey showing that 60% of respondents report significant or slight increases in MBA student engagement in either in-person or online recruitment events, and 67% report the same rise in engagement for MBA recruiters.
The findings are another piece to the puzzle following an MBA CSEA survey released this time last year in which one-fifth of schools reported that their students preferred virtual to face-to-face recruitment activities, even as significant numbers had found their footing in virtual or hybrid formats; as well as a report earlier this year showing that students and employers alike were adjusting to new formats and embracing the flexibility and time savings afforded by them.
STUDENT ENGAGEMENT UP SIGNIFICANTLY AT 19% OF B-SCHOOLS
MBA CSEA is a global association for graduate business career services professionals and employers of MBAs. Its latest survey was conducted October 18-25, garnering 120 responses, 81% of which were from B-schools in North America; 11% were from Europe and 1% from Asia-Pacific.
It found that 19% of respondents report significant increases and 41% report slight increases in student engagement in on-campus or virtual recruiting events and career programs, while 24% reported no change. Only 12% reported slight decreases, and 3% significant decreases.
In September-October 2021, MBA CSEA found that just 19% of respondents indicated that students seem to prefer face-to-face recruiting/networking in some format, mainly due to the need for in-person connections. Seventy percent of respondents in that survey said that less recruiting was being done in person; meanwhile, 10% noted that students like the flexibility and additional opportunities provided by virtual recruiting — specifically, a rising comfort level with video interviews and having access to more employers. Students seemed to recognize the trend toward virtual recruitment, and school indicated that the shift was due to improvements in recruiting platforms and more equitable engagement across schools. International students in particular embraced virtual formats as a learning tool as they sought to overcome disadvantages related to needing visas or other assistance to remain in the countries where they work.
In MBA CSEA’s fall recruiting survey conducted in January of this year, a central finding was a continued preference for virtual and hybrid activity in employment recruitment. In-person recruitment experiences, such as career fairs, were declining while virtual opportunities were on the rise at a majority of schools.
In the new survey, schools that experienced an increase in student engagement in recruitment activities reported the two main reasons as an overall increase in in-person events and decreased risk of — and fear of — the spread of Covid-19. In contrast, schools that saw a decrease in engagement credited a more selective job market and students engaging with employers in non-traditional ways (i.e. direct hires). However, schools that saw no change in engagement levels blamed coronavirus, saying their students had not yet rebounded from the crisis.
BOOMING JOB MARKET CREDITED WITH INCREASE IN MBA RECRUITMENT
On the employer front, rising engagement levels are even more pronounced, with 23% of schools reporting significant increases and 44% reporting slight increases. One-quarter report no change, and only 8% and 1%, respectively, report slight or significant decreases.
B-chools that experienced an increase credit a range of factors:
- Increased hiring, particularly for consulting
- Tighter labor market
- A desire to return to in-person events
- Higher comfort level with Covid
- Earlier recruitment/engagement
- Expanded recruitment model going beyond core schools
Schools that experienced neither an increase nor a decrease offered a similarly wide range of causes:
- Strong/consistent recruiting targets
- Hiring freezes
- Economic uncertainty
- Long-standing partnerships
- Companies remaining remote
- Tech recruitment is down
- Concern about Covid
- No new events added this year
And those few that saw a drop-off? They blamed economic uncertainty and the expectation of a recession, hiring freezes, and an increased focus on internship conversion. They also pointed to recruiters engaging with candidates in non-traditional ways outside of campus.