MBA Job prospects have been dealt a huge blow, as figures released last week show that employers will hire a shocking 43 per cent less graduates for the financial services sector.
According to Michigan State University's new survey of 6,500 employers across the United States, the employment of MBAs is set to drop 25 per cent across nearly all industries next year.
Financial services, one of the most popular MBA career paths, and government jobs will take the biggest blow, the report says. In finance and insurance, MBAs will have half the opportunities of last year.
The report says that banks are eliminating positions in mortgage units and other departments, which will have ripple effects in areas such as real estate and underwriting.
With a combative political environment in Washington, the government will also be one of the worst hit sectors.
An MBA graduating in 2014 looks likely to have considerably less job opportunity than last year's cohort, which in the US, reported a 95 per cent employment rate.
Phil Gardner, an economist and director of MSU’s Collegiate Employment Research Institute, said that employers lament a lack of preparedness among graduates. Securing internships, attending job fairs and making connections with potential employers can be essential to landing MBA Jobs.
"The best jobs will go to the graduates who know where they want to go, know how to get there and have a network of professional relationships they can tap for assistance with their job search," he said.
But he added that there was double-digit expansion in some areas and that "a more robust market may be just around the corner".
There is better news for most other sectors, with manufacturing (up 23 per cent), non-profits (up 11 per cent), education (up 9 per cent) and retail (up 2 per cent) all set to perform well.
MBAs may also be in high demand in the computer science and programming sectors, where more graduates are expected to be hired, the report says.
But MBAs who are about to graduate from US programs may have great cause for concern. With 25 per cent less employment positions predicted to be available, coupled with record numbers of people taking the GMAT, competition for jobs will be higher than ever.
But do MBAs at top US business schools fear the jobs market?
Eric Yang will graduate from a full-time MBA at Georgetown University McDonough School of Business in Washington in 2014. After working for an automotive manufacturer, he transitioned into consulting and is hoping to land a job with a Big Four firm in the US.
Eric says he has, at times, found it difficult trying to secure a job in the States ahead of graduation. "I've definitely encountered some difficulty in navigating the jobs market; I think everyone does," he said.
"If I did not have the backing of a prestigious MBA brand and an expansive alumni network, I might be more concerned.
"I can say that coming from a top-rated MBA program, there is no major concern that my classmates and I will not find a job; we know the value of the Georgetown MBA and employers know that as well."
Despite a gloomy outlook for US MBAs, Eric is confident he will find a job in the market next year. An MBA, he says, remains a great enabler. "I am not truly worried about my prospects," he said.
"The most difficult part of finding a job for me has been interviewing well. Like many others, I get nervous and have difficulty relaxing in interviews - something I've been making a slow but steady improvement in.
"The MBA has been an excellent opportunity to expand my professional network.
"With my MBA from the top-ranked Georgetown McDonough School of Business, I am confident in my future as a successful business leader in the coming business environment."
Alejandro Correa will graduate from The University of Chicago - Booth School of Business in 2014. Booth's MBA program has jumped to #1 in The Economist's MBA Rankings this year and the brand will no doubt be beneficial in an increasingly competitive jobs market.
Alejandro has been a consultant at AT Kearney for a number of years but wanted to study an MBA to further his career. He is shocked at the statistics.
"I can definitively see how some people looking for finance jobs are having a hard time landing their dream job," he told BusinessBecause. "They are careers in which it is typically very hard to break into, regardless of the state of the economy.
"But I would argue that for the most part the people from top-ten schools find a way to get into the field they want. I have seen a lot of interest for management consulting this season."
He thinks that an MBA has been "immensely" useful in advancing his career. "An MBA from Chicago Booth has helped me expand the areas within business in which I am competent," he added.
"The rigorous academic programming and the network of students and alumni are immensely valuable as I move on in my career.
Oksana Chetyrko is a full-time MBA student at Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. After moving from Ukraine to their Hanover campus in New Hampshire in the US, she is set to graduate in 2014 and hopes to break into a management consulting career.
Oksana says told BusinessBecause that there are a number of factors that make finding MBA Jobs challenging. "The global economy is still in the tail of the recession, which translates into fewer jobs, lower compensation and tougher competition," she said.
"Looking for post-MBA jobs, you are competing with candidates who are as smart and ambitious as you, so the high quality in the applicants’ pool makes job searches tough for everyone. However, there are a lot of opportunities out there and at the end of the day with due effort and diligence you can a land the job you want."
Coming from a country outside of the States, getting permanent work authorization is not always straightforward. "Permanent work authorization is often required, which limits a number of options," Oksana continued. "Some companies require it; others are just not that open to hiring a lot of foreigners, in spite of being open to all candidates.
"It is natural and understandable – often cultural assimilation is important for succeeding in a certain role. However this definitely makes the job search more complicated."
But with an MBA from Tuck, one of the most highly-regarded business schools in the world, she is confident that she will find employment - whether inside the US or not. An MBA has helped Oksana "tremendously": "It granted me access to companies and roles that otherwise would be very hard to even consider. Moreover, the Tuck MBA does prepare you for an ambitious career in the business world.
"The academic foundation is excellent, the exposure to real-world business problems does broaden your horizons, and you develop a lot of priceless skills."