The job market: Brighter prospects for landing a dream role

It looks like easier sailing ahead as reports suggest an upswing in MBA recruitment

It's looking like 2012 could be a good year for graduating MBAs. Although the first signs of economic recovery are tentative at best, business school students are securing jobs in higher numbers than they have in the past two years.

According to the MBA Career Services Council, an association of business school career management offices and companies who hire MBA students, 70 per cent of business schools reported an increase in on-campus recruitment activity for full-time positions compared with the previous year. The positive results are consistent with an employer survey conducted by the Graduate Management Admissions Council (Gmac) among 216 companies around the world, which found a "noticeable increase in companies planning to hire recently graduated management talent in 2012".

According to Gmac, nearly 75 per cent of those surveyed plan to hire MBAs in 2012, which is a 16 per cent increase over 2011. Nearly a third of those companies expect to pay higher base salaries to MBAs than they did in 2011.

The results underline a growing optimism among career services professionals about job placement in the year to come. Nicole Hall, president of the MBA Career Services Council, says: "The survey results indicate a positive trend we have observed in the past few years. We're seeing an increase in almost all industries and in most company types. Schools are continuing to find creative ways to assist students and companies with the job search process, and their efforts are paying off."

The London Business School is among those trying new initiatives to further the relationship with organisations not only in the UK, but around the world. "For the first time, we have created sector specific CV books, making it easier for recruiters in some of the major sectors to find the talent they need," explains Fiona Sandford, director of career services. "The school has also supported a growing number of career treks in markets such as Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore that have directly contributed to the increase of graduates finding roles in Asia."

MBA students on the year-long course at the Lancaster University Management School are encouraged to make the most of the programme's three consulting projects, with three different organisations, due to the post-MBA career opportunities they can generate. The last of these, the Corporate Challenge, involves a major consultancy project or internship with a global company in the UK or abroad, such as EDF Energy, BASF, Manchester Airports Group, PwC, and HSBC. In addition to experiencing real-world challenges and testing their managerial skills with clients, the project can provide excellent networking opportunities. "The value of such projects in enhancing your CV and helping you to make the next career move should not be underestimated," explains Cana Witt, career development manager for the Lancaster MBA. "They can prove an ideal stepping stone, especially if you are intending to move to a new job function or a new industry, and can sometimes lead directly to offers of employment."

Worldwide, the biggest hiring gains appear to be in technology and the new media sector, with consulting and consumer goods also posting strong increases. More than 60 per cent of respondents to the MBA Career Services Council survey reported an rise in recruiting for full-time technology positions in 2011, up from the 37 per cent bump in technology hires in 2010. At HEC Paris in France, trendy media companies such as Google, Amazon and most recently Facebook have surged in popularity for post-MBA employment, while consultancy firms and luxury brands such as Dior and Cartier are also bullish about hiring levels in the next year.

"Whether to help with growth in developing markets, or innovate with new products in a saturated market, companies are looking to hire MBA graduates who are extremely competent in the core business skills of finance, marketing and strategy, but have the aptitude and decision-making skills that go beyond mere analysis," explains Bernard Garrette, associate dean at HEC Paris. "They want individuals who are capable of managing teams, and will roll up their sleeves and set an example to others."

The big losers are likely to be the banks, whose MBA recruiting activity shows a decrease compared with an increase last year. Though business schools have traditionally been a major feeder into financial services, the estimated loss of 200,000 jobs in 2011 alone is forcing the latest generation of students to rethink their career plans.

But would fresh MBA graduates head for Wall Street or the City anyway? With the reputation of investment bank Goldman Sachs taking a beating in recent months, the company may struggle to repeat its fourth place ranking in a 2011 study of most desirable employers for MBAs, conducted by employer research firm, Universum. Jack Oakes, assistant dean for career development at the University of Virginia's Darden School in the US acknowledges that plenty of students will look for a job in financial services, particularly when the markets bounce back. But he reckons banks will face stiffer competition for top talent from industry, which is now much better at marketing itself. "It is great to see industrial companies raising their game and increasing their MBA hiring." The likes of Caterpillar, 3M and Dupont are stepping up their pursuit of MBA students at Darden, suggesting job prospects could be better with companies that actually make things, rather than trading debt.

The energy industry is currently among the most vibrant sectors, along with what Marie-Jose Beaudin, the director of careers services at McGill's Desautels Faculty of Management in Montreal, describes as "dirty" industries, such as metals and mining. She believes students perceive these to be more stable than sectors such as finance. "MBA students also see them as more genuinely global at a time when most key jobs in many other areas are still concentrated in the US or Western Europe," she says.

But for those looking for real bargaining power in the MBA job market, China might be the place to head. In its latest Global Snapshot survey of employment prospects for professionals and managers, the recruitment firm Antal found China has one of the highest levels of demand in the world, with 72 per cent of companies currently hiring.

Given this fact, it is not surprising that graduates at Peking University this year reported a 201 per cent increase over their pre-MBA salary. The 50 graduates in the University's Beijing International MBA programme, run jointly with Belgium's Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School, were offered positions by more than 250 companies across a wide range of industries, including JP Morgan, AIG, Apple, and LVMH.

According to Dr Zhuang Yang, the programme's dean, there are also more Chinese companies looking to hire the school's overseas students to act as consultants for their international expansion plans. "In China there is a limited managerial talent pool who understand global markets and mindsets, so our international students who can speak Chinese are in very high demand." Looks like 2012 could be the year of the MBA dragon.

Arts & Entertainment
Matthew Mcnulty and Jessica Brown Findlay in 'Jamaica Inn'
mediaHundreds complain over dialogue levels in period drama
peopleJay Z and Beyoncé to buy £5.5m London townhouse
voicesMoyes' tragedy is one the Deputy PM understands all too well, says Matthew Norman
Arts & Entertainment
Rocker of ages: Chuck Berry
musicWhy do musicians play into old age?
Arts & Entertainment
With Jo Joyner in 'Trying Again'
tvHe talks to Alice Jones on swapping politics for pillow talk
Jilly's jewels: gardener Alan Titchmarsh
peopleCountry Life magazine's list of 'gallant' public figures throws light on what it means to be a gentleman in the modern world
John Terry goes down injured in the 70th minute
sportAtletico Madrid 0 Chelsea 0: Blues can finish the job at Stamford Bridge, but injuries to Terry and Cech are a concern for Mourinho
<b>Rebecca Adlington</b>
<br />This, the first British swimmer to win two
Olympic gold medals in 100 years, is the eversmiling
face of the athletes who will, we're
confident, make us all proud at London 2012
peopleRebecca Adlington on 'nose surgery'
Arts & Entertainment
tvJudge for yourself
Life & Style
Tough call: is the psychological distress Trott is suffering an illness? (Getty)
healthJonathan Trott and the problems of describing mental illness
Life & Style
23 April 2014: Google marks St George's Day with a drawing depicting England's patron saint slaying a fire-breathing dragon
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

DT Teacher - Food Technology

£90 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Preston: The Job We are currently recr...

SEN Science Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: We require committed and enthusiastic...

English Teacher

£120 - £140 per day + ?DOE: Randstad Education Maidstone: English Teacher Kent...

RE Teacher

£120 - £140 per day + ?DOE: Randstad Education Maidstone: RE Teacher sought fo...

Day In a Page

Brits who migrate to Costa del Sol more unhappy than those who stay at home

It's not always fun in the sun: Moving abroad does not guarantee happiness

Brits who migrate to Costa del Sol more unhappy than those who stay at home
Migrants in Britain a decade on: They came, they worked, they stayed in Lincolnshire

Migrants in Britain a decade on

They came, they worked, they stayed in Lincolnshire
Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

The 'Thick of It' favourite thinks the romcom is an 'awful genre'. So why is he happy with a starring role in Sky Living's new Lake District-set series 'Trying Again'?
Why musicians play into their old age

Why musicians play into their old age

Nick Hasted looks at how they are driven by a burning desire to keep on entertaining fans despite risking ridicule
How can you tell a gentleman?

How can you tell a gentleman?

A list of public figures with gallant attributes by Country Life magazine throws a fascinating light on what it means to be a gentleman in the modern world
Pet a porter: posh pet pampering

Pet a porter: posh pet pampering

The duo behind Asos and Achica have launched a new venture offering haute couture to help make furry companions fashionable
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: The mutiny that sent a ripple of fear through the Empire

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

The mutiny that sent a ripple of fear through the Empire
Hot stuff: 10 best kettles

Hot stuff: 10 best kettles

Celebrate St George’s Day with a nice cup of tea. Now you just need to get the water boiled
Sam Wallace: Why Giggs is perfect fit as Manchester United boss... in the longer term

Sam Wallace

Why Ryan Giggs is perfect fit as Manchester United boss... in the longer term
Renaud Lavillenie: The sky's the limit for this pole vaulter's ambitions

Renaud Lavillenie: The sky's the limit for this pole vaulter's ambitions

Having smashed Sergei Bubka's 21-year-old record, the French phenomenon tells Simon Turnbull he can go higher
Through the screen: British Pathé opens its archives

Through the screen

British Pathé opens its archives
The man behind the papier mâché mask

Frank Sidebottom

The man behind the papier mâché mask
Chris Marker: Mystic film-maker with a Midas touch

Mystic film-maker with a Midas touch

Chris Marker retrospective is a revelation
Boston runs again: Thousands take to the streets for marathon as city honours dead and injured of last year's bombing

Boston runs again

Thousands of runners take to the streets as city honours dead of last year
40 years of fostering and still holding the babies (and with no plans to retire)

40 years of fostering and holding the babies

In their seventies and still working as specialist foster parents