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Surge of Small Firms Recruit MBAs, Wall Street Journal Reports

The economic crisis of four years ago has had an unexpected if delayed positive impact on recruiting at several top business schools, according to a report this week in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). In a bid to secure jobs for their graduates when large corporations halted recruiting, career services at top schools began reaching out to small firms for the first time. Now, even as larger firms return to former recruiting levels, lots of smaller companies are on campuses to stay as well.

“The downturn really forced the field of [business-school recruiters] to diversify,” Nicole Hall, president of the MBA Career Services Council, an association of business-school career offices, told the WSJ.

According to a 2011 survey by the career-services council, 43 percent of schools said they saw an increase in recruiting from small firms of 100 people or fewer. MIT’s Sloan School of Management invited small businesses to participate in a career fair during the last semester of the MBA program, after traditional fall recruiting, Sue Kline, Sloan’s director of career development, told the WSJ.

Meanwhile, at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, the career center has started developing relationships with companies of 200 employees or fewer with a particular focus on start-ups. This according to Maria Halpern, a senior associate director in MBA career management at the Philadelphia school.

It means more prospects for MBA students – especially as larger firms return to recruiting levels of the past. And for small companies it means the opportunity to land hires with strong skills gained at top schools who they wouldn’t otherwise be able to lure.

But even with a struggling economy and a tight job market, lots of MBAs are still reluctant to work for smaller, lesser-known firms with smaller salaries and fewer perks.

“The environment is proving to be a little scary for kids to come in and not have a big, fat paycheck,” Christine Ingraham, owner of Box Kitchen, a Guilford, Conn., maker of modular kitchen cabinets, told the WSJ. She recruited at Sloan last spring but after interviewing a handful of candidates the one offer she made was declined. Nonetheless, she plans to return to Sloan to recruit as business expands, she says.

To draw top candidates who might otherwise try to hold out for larger paychecks at large firms, smaller companies are stressing their flexible roles and relaxed atmospheres, an approach that is working for some, according to the WSJ.

Posted in: MBA News

Schools: MIT Sloan, UPenn / Wharton

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