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Light at the end of the tunnel for MBAs

Drastic cutbacks at the height of the recession means companies are recruiting aggressively for   MBA-holders now.

“Last year at this time, I kept checking to ensure that my phone was still working because it wasn’t ringing,” said Lynn Sarikas, director of the MBA Career Center at Boston’s Northeastern University. “The good news is that the phone is ringing this year.”

According to Sarikas, companies had cut back so drastically during the peak of the recession that they could no longer postpone hiring talent as business rebounds. At MIT Sloan School of Management and University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, recruiting is returning to levels not seen since before the economic meltdown.

This upturn was confirmed by the results of the 2010 Corporate Recruiters Survey, a survey of business graduate employers. Conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council, in cooperation with MBA Career Services Council and The European Foundation for Management Development, it polled almost 2,000 companies worldwide. It included 171 of the US Fortune 500 and looked at employer needs and hiring trends for MBAs and specialized business master’s programs.

According to the survey results, the 2010 job market for business school graduates has improved compared with 2009. This year, 55 percent of employers are planning to hire recent MBA alumni, up 5 percent.

Harvard Business School’s Jana Kierstead, managing director of MBA career and professional development, said more recruiters started to extend job offers to students in the spring.

“The last time there was a crisis like this, it was 1983, and that’s when many of our students were born,” said Sloan’s Jackie Wilbur. “It’s the school’s job to navigate the job market for them; they just don’t have this perspective.”

In spite of the increase in on-campus visits and job postings during 2010, graduates are more likely to find jobs through solo search efforts, including more aggressive networking and a beefed-up resume. The best candidates pick their target industry, talk to people who work there and connect their skills with the company’s needs. This targeted approach is more important than ever if graduates are to land the job of their choice.

 
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