After what has seemed like years of asking “Thing are bound to get better, right?” the job market is finally, undoubtedly warming up for business school graduates. Earlier this week the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) released a pair of annual international surveys that show that the Class of 2011 is having an easier time landing jobs than grads of recent years, and that employers are bullish on their future hiring plans.
Perhaps the purest litmus test is the percentage of job-seeking students who land jobs before they graduate. Here we see a definite improvement in the 2011 GMAC Global Management Education Graduate Survey results, with 54% of students reporting they had at least one job offer in March (when the survey was conducted), compared to just 32% of those surveyed at the same time last year. For full-time, two-year MBA students, this number is the highest it’s been since 2008.
A big driver of the improved numbers is the increased optimism among hiring companies. According to GMAC’s 2011 Corporate Recruiters Survey (the companion to the Graduate Survey), two-third of employers say they expect to hire MBA grads this coming year, compared to 62% last year and just 50% two years ago. Many of these companies have waited as long as possible before restocking their talent pools, but we suspect an improving economy and natural attrition are making it harder for them to hold out much longer.
Not only do hiring measures look good, but salary data are also encouraging. Looking at MBA grads in the U.S., new hires will earn an average base salary of $91,433 this year, up from $89,141 in 2010 and $86,299 in 2009. (GMAC provides an interactive graph that lets you play with the survey data.)
While we haven’t yet seen (and may not see) the dramatic snap back in hiring that often follows a recession, it looks like the worst is behind us now. The fact that companies aren’t aggressively hiring right now may prove to be a good thing in the long run… The less likely they are to overdo it today, the more likely they are to keep hiring two or three years from now. The market will always be cyclical, but we’d like to keep those peaks and valleys as smooth as possible, thank you very much.
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