A Resurgent MBA Job Market? Really?

by: Sharon Belden Castonguay, EdD
Director, Graduate Career Management Center
Baruch College, Zicklin School of Business
New York, NY

Recently my LinkedIn “Top Headlines” function picked up an entry on Forbes.com by blogger Matt Symonds entitled, “A Resurgent MBA Job Market.” My first thought, as is often the case when I read these items from the big media outlets, was, resurgent for whom? Harvard*, Sloane and Tuck? OK, yes, I too read the MBA CSC report he cites, complete with the news that 76% of surveyed US schools had seen more on campus recruiting activity in 2011 than in 2010. And I hold in my hand a report I just received from my head of corporate relations here at Baruch College indicating that in September 2010—June 2011 we saw a 91% increase in new jobs and internships posted to our online recruiting system as compared to September 2008—June 2009.

So why I am not more enthusiastic?

Let’s look closely at some of the specifics. Of the 87 programs that responded to the aforementioned MBA CSC Spring 2011 Recruiting Trends Survey only 30 reported offer information; of those, 47% indicated that 75% or more of the class of 2011 had received a full time offer. My guess is that those 14 schools were among the 19 or so respondents ranked in the top 20 by one or more major media outlets. While schools ranked 51 to 100, like my own, and those not ranked at all both saw a distinct uptick in the number of full time postings (86% and 84%, respectively) there are two trends we saw at Baruch that tell another side of the story:

1)      While we are still collecting data for our full time MBA students—a small minority population for us—we don’t anticipate seeing a substantial jump in the number employed at graduation. We’re looking at maybe an increase of five to eight percentage points, or roughly half the class.

2)      For the month of June 2011, over a quarter of the jobs/internships we had in our system attracted zero applicants. This tells me that while we may be attracting more postings, they may not be the right ones.

I encourage comments about your own school’s experience. While it’s good to know that investment banks and consulting firms are redoubling their efforts at top tier schools, how are things going for those of you outside the top 20?

*Please know that I harbor no ill will toward Harvard or its ilk, it’s just that having spent time in such institutions I know better than to compare apples to oranges. Readers at HBS, please say hello to the salad bar at the Spangler Center for me. I miss it.

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