Recruiters bullish about MBA hiring post-pandemic: GMAC survey

MBA salary and hiring are expected to return to pre-pandemic levels, found a GMAC survey.

By U2B Staff 

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Graduate Management Admission Council’s (GMAC) annual 2021 Corporate Recruiters Survey, corporate recruiters project a robust demand for business school graduates, with nine in 10 of them expecting it to increase or remain stable in the next five years. 

A higher proportion of recruiters in 2021 (37%) expect the demand to increase than that in the previous year (30%), with more than half of the European recruiters (54%) sharing such a view compared to their Asian (32%) and American (34%) counterparts.

Among GMAC’s key findings include:


Positive hiring projections of MGA graduates

In 2020, the projected MBA median salary reached an all-time high of 115,000 US dollars before COVID-19 disrupted the global economy and caused it to drop down to US$105,000 three months into the pandemic. 

Despite this, the median MBA salary for 2021 is projected to recover to its pre-pandemic 2020 level of US$115,000. 

“At this rate, the median salary of MBA graduates is 77% more than those with a bachelor’s degree (US$65,000) and 53% higher as compared to those hired directly from industry (US$75,000),” said GMAC.

“This salary premium shows that investing in an MBA credential continues to pay off over time, helping an MBA graduate earn US$3 million more in his or her lifetime than someone holding only a bachelor’s degree.”

A total of 92% of recruiters indicated they were planning to hire MBA graduates in 2020 before the pandemic, but COVID-19 related disruptions meant the actual hiring of MBA graduates (80%) was lower than 2020 projections. 

The proportion of recruiters planning to hire MBAs in 2021 (91%) is at the same level as pre-pandemic 2020 (92%), with MBA hiring projections exhibiting strength across key regions and industries. 

“Specifically, 95% of the recruiters in the consulting sector, an industry in most demand by MBA graduates, are projecting to hire them—a reversal from the 2020 actual hiring of 76%,” said GMAC.

Tech sector expected to snap up more MBA graduates

Demand for MBA graduates by the technology industry is anticipated to increase by 10% in 2021 than pre-pandemic 2020. With 96% of tech recruiters projecting to hire MBA graduates in 2021, the demand for MBA talents tops the previous three years, said GMAC.

The data also show that two in three (68%) recruiters in the technology sector agree that leaders in their organisations tend to have a graduate business school education, an increase of 11% from 2020 (57%).

“Technology companies are placing a high value on leaders who are not just technically skilled, but also have strong strategic, interpersonal, communication and decision-making skills, as well as an understanding of the importance of diversity and inclusion and sustainability in their organisations — these will be critical to driving organisational growth and innovation,” said Peter Johnson, Assistant Dean of UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. 

“These core skills represent the signature business schools are imbuing in graduates from their MBA and business master’s programmes.”


Online MBA programmes 

With the pandemic forcing business schools to shift to remote learning, what do recruiters think about online MBA programmes? Survey results showed that perceptions varied depending on respondents’ industry and sector.

When corporate recruiters were asked about their level of agreement with the statement “My organisation values graduates of online and in-person programs equally,” only one-third (34%) of them agreed. 

In terms of industries, recruiters from the finance and accounting industry (41%) are more likely to view graduates of online programmes as equal to their on-campus peers, compared to their recruiting counterparts in consulting (25%) or technology (28%). 

GMAC conducts the annual Corporate Recruiters Survey (CRS) to provide vital data for employers and business schools in understanding trends and insights about hiring, salaries, and skills for MBA and business master’s graduates. The survey gathered 569 responses from corporate recruiters between February 25 and March 31, 2021.