MBA Hiring Outlook Optimistic for 2012

Posted by: Alison Damast on December 13, 2011

Wall Street banks have been shedding jobs at a steady clip this fall, but the skittish economic outlook isn’t having an impact on MBA hiring, which is only getting rosier, according to a new corporate recruiters survey released by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) today. Hiring expectations for next year are on the upswing, with nearly three-quarters of employers, or 74 percent, intending to hire at least one MBA in 2012, up from 58 percent in 2011, according to the survey, which polled 229 employers from 216 companies worldwide.

Adding to the healthy job outlook, recruiters said they plan to hire at similar or increased levels in 2012. For example, 22 percent of recruiters said they planned to hire more MBA graduates next year; that’s nearly four times the number in 2011, when only six percent said they intended to up their MBA hires. Last year, recruiters’ hiring expectations lined up with an “extremely high level of accuracy” when it came to actual hiring, so if current trends continue the class of 2012 can “look forward to entering a markedly improved job market next year upon graduation,” the report notes.

“There is a sense that the demand for business talent is competitive, not just in the sense of students competing for jobs, but in terms of employers who want to secure the quality talent they are looking for,” said Michelle Sparkman Renz, GMAC’s director of research communications, at a press conference today.

Despite the increased hiring projections, the majority of companies, or 65 percent, plan to keep base salaries at similar levels to 2011, though 32 percent indicated that they would up compensation for their new MBA hires.

In a tight job market, internships have become more important than ever for MBA students, as many banks and companies have hired primarily from their intern pool in recent years. The vast majority of employers -- nearly 70 percent -- said they plan to offer MBAs paid internships this summer. MBAs seeking those paid summer internships may have an easier time landing these opportunities than their counterparts last year, as 22 percent of companies noted they planned to offer more internships slots in 2012.

The GMAC report didn't give an industry-by-industry breakdown of hiring expectations, but with more than 220,000 jobs in the global financial-services industry expected to vanish this year, it would be surprising if MBA hiring in finance didn't take a hit. Will MBAs be flocking to financial services with the same gusto as prior years? Or are recent headlines making them wary of setting their sights on an industry that likely is not done with its bloodletting?

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