MBA Job Outlook Improving. Sort of.

Posted by: Louis Lavelle on May 12, 2010

The latest jobs report from the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) is like that old joke: there’s good news and there’s bad news. So which do you want to hear first?

Since you can’t respond until I finish writing, I’ll go ahead and give you the good news first: the percentage of employees surveyed who say they plan to hire newly minted MBAs is up: 55%, compared to 50% in 2009. (Though still not close to the level of 2008, when 59% said they planned to hire MBAs.) The strongest hiring is expected in consulting and health care, where 73% and 80% of employers, respectively, said they were planning to hire MBAs. Positions in marketing and finance (other than investment banking) are expected to be most plentiful.

More good news: salaries are actually going up. In 2010, employers say they expect to make offers averaging $89,141, up from $86,299 in 2009.

The bad news? For companies that are planning to hire new MBAs, the number of expected MBA hires is down, to 23.5 from 25.8 in 2009.

And the qualifications of new MBAs is, in the view of many recruiters, are not much better than non-MBAs. GMAC asked the recruiters to compare MBAs with non-MBAs on a number of “behavioral and skill-based competencies.” The MBAs handily demolished the non-MBAs on managing strategy and innovation, managing decision-making processes, and strategic and systems skills. But on the others the percentage saying non-MBAs had skills that were the same, lower, or much lower than MBAs were pretty high: managing tools and technology, 54%; skills in operations, 50%; interpersonal skills, 45%; managing human capital 42%.

There’s a lot more to the report, which provides the view from where the recruiters’ perspective. But I wonder what MBA students from the Class of 2010 are experiencing—are jobs easier to come by? Is there more wiggle room in the salary offers? And what do you think of the recruiters’ assessment of MBAs’ abilities—a little harsh, or on the money?

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