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Job prospects looking up for MBA grads: survey

A group of business people shake hands

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More employers, globally, plan to hire recent graduates of master-level business programs this year, compared to a year ago, according to a new survey of corporate recruiters by the Graduate Management Admission Council released today. Of 935 employers worldwide who took part in the survey, 75 per cent said they hire MBA graduates, up from 71 per cent last year – and well above 59 per cent at the time of the financial meltdown in 2008.

In a sign of growing confidence in the economy, companies in a hiring mode expect to take on an average of 14.6 MBA graduates, up from 11.4 in 2012.

Those with degrees in specialty master-level programs, such as management, accounting and finance, are also in demand from employers, with the greatest growth in energy and utilities, and health care and pharmaceuticals – sectors not traditionally sought out by MBA graduates.

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"The job market is improving for business talent worldwide," says Michelle Sparkman-Renz, director of research communications for GMAC.

Because of their credentials, those with MBA and specialty master degrees are in a "sweet spot," she adds, earning a significant entrance-salary premium over those hired directly from industry or with only an undergraduate business degree.

In the United States, for example, employers expect to pay new MBAs a median salary of $95,000, up from $90,000 last year, compared to a salary of $43,000 for those with a bachelor's degree.

"The salary premium indicates that MBA and management talent have a special place in the hiring mix and the compensation that employers expect to offer them means they are valued," she said.

In a companion survey of more than 5,300 business students worldwide, GMAC found that 60 per cent of job seekers in the class of 2013 said they had a job offer before graduation, on a par with 2012, compared to only 43 per cent in 2008. Those most likely to have a job in hand were going to companies in technology, manufacturing and health care.

In Canada, 46 per cent of domestic students responding to the survey said they were leaving school with a job offer, while only 25 per cent of foreign students in Canada said they had employment prior to graduation.

One finding from the student survey is that traditional job-seeking methods proved more advantageous than online tools and social media.

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Globally, business school career centres and internship placements ranked as the two most successful methods of looking for a job, according to the survey.

Among Canadian students, networks of classmates and family and friends topped the list, followed by use of social media and direct applications to companies.

The findings should send a strong message to business schools, says Ms. Sparkman-Renz. "The school has a key role on campus in being an incubator for students in developing their skills and helping graduates in their search [for work]."

The GMAC surveys, conducted annually, were carried out in co-operation with the European Foundation for Management Development and the MBA Career Services Council.

Editor's note: This is a corrected version of the article, clarifying that among Canadian graduates, 46 per cent of domestic grads had job offers, compared with 25 per cent of foreign students, as opposed to 25 per cent of domestic students.

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