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MBA Hiring Going Up, Up Up, Survey Results Reveal

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Things just keep getting better when it comes to MBA hiring, according to the most recent survey of corporate recruiters, released today by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC). Some 88 percent of recruiters surveyed plan to hire MBA graduates in 2016. That’s an eight percentage point jump over last year and a whopping 33 percentage points higher than in 2010, the lowest point of the recession.

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Corporate Recruiter Hiring Projections Source: GMAC 2016 Corporate Recruiters Survey Report

In fact, appetite for MBA grads shows growth in every industry category measured. The products and services industry saw the greatest jump, from 76 percent actually hired last year to 86 percent projected for this year. In consulting, companies intending to hire MBAs worldwide rose to 92 percent, up from 83. Finance and accounting saw an increase from 76 to 84 percent. Technology saw the smallest jump but still increased, from 82 to 84 percent.

Not only are more recruiters planning to hire MBAs this year, they are planning to pay them more, too. The results of GMAC’s 15th Annual Corporate Recruiters Survey reveal that U.S.-based companies plan to offer their recent MBA hires a median starting base salary of $105,000, up from $100,000 last year. Globally, more than half (54 percent) of employers plan to increase MBA starting salaries either at the rate of inflation (33 percent of respondents) or above (21 percent), with 46 percent expecting to keep starting MBA salaries the same as 2015.

These projections reflect a global focus on growth and expansion—with a majority of employers in every region of the world indicating that their company direction is on an upward trajectory. Overall employee headcount, too, is projected to increase for a majority of employers in Asia-Pacific (66 percent), the United States (53 percent) and Europe (51 percent), although fewer Latin American companies (46 percent) expect to increase employee ranks, and a quarter in that region anticipate staffing reductions.

GMAC Widens Breadth of Research
For the first time ever this year, GMAC conducted a second, supplemental survey at the same time—in February and March—as its Corporate Recruiters Survey to broaden its reach among employers. As in past years, the Corporate Recruiters Survey is based on responses from more than 800 employers who recruit directly from GMAC’s member business schools. This year’s supplementary survey, called the “General Population Employer Survey,” drew responses from 1,282 companies across China, France, Germany, India, the United Kingdom and the United States—the largest markets for graduate management education. The results of this survey of a broader employer base show that, overall, half of companies surveyed have plans to hire an MBA in 2016—ranging from 35 percent of companies in Germany to 70 percent of companies in China.

GMAC interprets the difference in hiring projections between the two surveys as evidence of the value business schools provide to students in connecting them with employers that want to hire them. “These results are compelling evidence for admissions professionals to demonstrate the value of a graduate business degree to prospective applicants,” GMAC Executive Vice President for School Products Bob Alig said in statement.

In addition to hiring projections, the supplemental study also asked the broader base of employers about whether and how they value MBA graduates, and here the findings were very positive. Almost three out of four (72 percent) see MBAs as adding value to their organizations, and 70 percent noted that the MBA degree offers a versatile skill set that allows employees to take on additional roles. Two-thirds of respondents agreed further that an MBA provides a fast track to upper level positions (67 percent) and that leaders in their organization tend to have a business master’s degree (66 percent).

“These aren’t the companies that are all already recruiting on campus,” points out Gregg Schoenfeld, research director at GMAC. “Getting that confirmation from the general population of employers is great news for business education,” he adds.

The decision to launch this supplemental survey is part of an overall effort to broaden and deepen GMAC’s reach with employers driven by CEO Sangeet Chowfla, who joined GMAC in 2014, Schoenfeld says. Though this year’s questionnaire was relatively basic and intended to establish a baseline of data, Schoenfeld anticipates expanding it to include other measures in time. One example might be to pose the series of questions currently asked as part of the main survey regarding how companies identify talent to the broader employer pool, he says. “It would be very interesting to examine the companies planning to hire business school graduates versus those that aren’t to see if the talent they are seeking differs,” he says.