Future Still Bright for New MBAs

GMAC’s annual Corporate Recruiters Survey shows strong interest in hiring even in the midst of the coronavirus.

Despite the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, corporations still plan to hire newly minted MBAs, according to new survey data released by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) in partnership with MBA Career Services & Employer Alliance and the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD). The annual Corporate Recruiters Survey was nearing its conclusion in March when the pandemic erupted, so GMAC collected additional data over the summer about the virus’s impact on hiring and salary trends.

In this year’s report, employers generally expressed optimism for the future. Before the coronavirus hit, 92 percent of firms stated their intent to hire MBA graduates in 2020, but that figure dipped to 77 percent during sampling over the summer. However, when employers were asked about hiring plans for 2021, the numbers almost completely recovered to pre-virus levels, rising to 90 percent.

Before the pandemic, 90 percent of respondents indicated they were highly confident or confident about the ability of business schools to prepare students for success in their organizations. That figure held steady at 87 percent when employers were interviewed over the summer, an indication that MBA degree holders were considered valuable employees during times of transition and change.

“Even as the pandemic resets the global economy and job market, the confidence of corporate recruiters in the skills and abilities of graduate management talent is strong,” says Rahul Choudaha, GMAC’s director of industry insights. “This aligns with 2021’s robust MBA hiring projections as organizations plan for their recovery in a post-COVID world.”

It’s a world that will need graduates who are able to adapt quickly and think strategically, Choudaha says. When employers are asked what other skills they will look for in new MBA graduates, more than two-thirds identify the ability to navigate the challenges of technological disruption. Communication skills were also high on their list of hiring priorities.

Despite the financial pressures of the pandemic, most survey respondents expressed their intention to honor the compensation promises their organizations have made to new hires. Only a minority said they plan to reduce salaries, benefits, or bonuses.