MBA students are willing to reject recruiters’ job offers in a bid to hold out for their ideal careers, a trend that highlights renewed confidence in the employment market.
MBAs are even happy to wait and graduate into unemployment, buoyed by a jobs market which is in rude health.
The attitudes of these students mark a major turning point in the recruitment process. During the financial crisis, graduates could not afford to turn down offers of employment. But as economies rebound and hiring is forecast to expand, the tide is turning.
It also explains why many students are pursuing internships – which are a common route into full-time jobs during two-year MBA programs in the US – in non-traditional sectors such as social impact, and in start-ups.
The biggest recruiting groups on campus this year were technology firms and small companies, according to a survey by the MBA Career Services and Employer Alliance, which often cannot predict exact hiring numbers.
The traditional business school scouts such as financial services firms and management consultancies, on the other hand, have pre-set numbers of associate places from which they hire for each year.
Now, MBAs are prepared to play the long game. At the Tuck School of Business, 91% of 2013 graduates had job offers by graduation, yet just 81% had accepted job offers. In the build-up to the crisis in 2007, 90% accepted their job offers.
Despite employers’ efforts to start the recruiting process earlier each year, the picture is the same at many of the top-ranking US schools. At Berkeley's Haas School of Business in California, about 84% of 2013 graduates had received job offers, but only 74% took the overtures.
At elite schools like Stanford, students are showing similar self-assurance. About 95% of 2013's domestic candidates had job offers after graduation and only 88% took them.
These figures reflect growing confidence in the jobs market. The Graduate Management Admissions Council forecasts that 80% of business school recruiters plan to hire MBAs in 2014 – a 30% increase from 2009.
Sangeet Chowfla, GMAC’s CEO and president, said that projected hiring rates are the highest for all degree types since the Great Recession started.
“MBAs have always been valued by employers, but this survey shows that as the economy improves, employers see MBAs as a good investment into their future,” he added.
But the trend is not being witnessed at some top schools across the Atlantic. For example Fiona Sandford, executive director of careers at London Business School, said that 96% of the 2013 MBA class had an offer of employment within three months of graduation, and 95% of the class accepted their offers.