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by Vault Education Editors | May 11, 2011


The GMAC corporate recruiter survey is out. What did the recruiters say about the MBA hiring climate? Looks pretty good! In the Asia Pacific, even better.

In general, more companies are planning to hire MBAs this year than last, and MBA starting salaries are expected to increase overall, though half of companies expect no change.

Here’s a roundup of some of the report’s more interesting finds.

The traits and skills of in-demand MBAs

All the talk of late wanting the managers of today and tomorrow to embody leaders who are creative, innovative and socially intelligent seems to have been missed by many recruiters. The traits recruiters say they are looking for in MBA grads are initiative, professionalism, motivation and integrity, ability to deal with pressure/obstacles and goal orientation. Fewer than half say they desire MBAs who can listen, be persuasive or culturally sensitive, are tactful, can delegate well, or are empathetic.

Given that, communications skills are, somewhat contradictorily, by far the most desirable skill recruiters look for (Does that mean they know they should be looking for strong communication skills, but just don’t know what that entails?).

Regarding technical/quantitative skills and a proven ability to perform, companies in the U.S., more than European or Asian companies, seek these things.

Getting good grades was only considered desirable by 45 percent of recruiters. Even less valued prior work experience in similar or occupations or industries.

What recruiters find important in a school

One of the more interesting things to come out of the recruiter survey is how much heed recruiters continue to pay to the much-loathed and ravenously-observed MBA rankings when choosing which schools to recruit at. The rankings are becoming an increasingly important criterion to recruiters—almost as important as their existing school relationships, their prior experiences with the school, and the quality of the students.

John Byrne offers one possible explanation:

One explanation for the importance of rankings is that more companies are recruiting MBAs and they are often recruiting at more schools than they had in the past. “If companies are increasing the number of campuses where they recruit, they use rankings to help identify schools they’re less familar with,” says Michele Sparkman Renz, director of research communications for GMAC. “The Financial Times ranking in particular has a much greater non-U.S. mix with two Indian schools in the top 25. Companies hiring employees for their operations in India may use that ranking and others to decide which schools in India would provide them with the best Indian talent.”

Only a quarter of the recruiters said a school’s curriculum or location factored into where they recruited, and only one of ten said the quality of the faculty or the quality of the career services office mattered.

MBA hires with the highest starting salaries

Consulting gigs are tops in average starting salaries at $93K for MBA hires, $90K for experienced direct-industry hires, and $49K for hires with only a bachelor’s.

New hire salaries in the technology sector are expected to average around $89K and virtually the same with experienced direct-industry hires.

Grads who go to work for healthcare/pharmaceutical firms can expect an average yearly take of around $88K.

Grads who take positions in the energy/utilities industries are slated to earn an average starting salary of $87K, about $10K more than experienced direct-industry hires.

How companies are hiring

The best chance of finding a job is still through someone you know—more than three-quarters of recruiters said they relied on employee referrals. Nearly as many said they use their company’s website as a hiring strategy. The number of companies recruiting on campus increased this year to 68 percent.  Only 35 percent reported social media as a hiring tool.

What positions are in demand

In the U.S., finance (other than investment banking) jobs are the most in demand (42 percent), followed by marketing/sales positions (39 percent), then business development jobs, then consulting gigs.

Are companies sponsoring?

Only 15 percent of employers said they were planning to sponsor employees for full-time MBA programs, 25 percent for part-time and 21 percent for executive MBAs.

Europe likes MBAs

“European companies are poised to exceed [by $260] the average annual starting salary that US employers plan to offer MBA graduates. In fact, European employers place a higher premium on MBA graduate hires compared to the salaries they extend to other new hires.”

[GMAC Corporate Recruiter Survey]

[Photo: Flickr/ Radiant Guy]

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