Renewed employer optimism is translating into increased job offers for newly minted MBAs, according to a new survey. And small businesses are leading the way in this talent grab.
Nearly four out of five (79 percent) of companies plan to hire recent graduating MBAs and other management education graduates this year, compared with 72 percent in 2011, according to a study of more than 5,000 graduating students and more than 1,000 global employers conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council.
Sixty-two percent of graduating students surveyed reported that they had a job offer this year, up from 54 percent in 2011. Companies with fewer than 1,000 employers accounted for the largest proportional increase in the demand for graduate management hires.
Across the board, leadership skills topped the list of skills employers want in their new management graduate hires. Employers also want new hires that are able to organize and combine information from multiple sources to solve complex problems and make sound judgments. These data analysis and high-level integrated reasoning skills were noted as particularly important to companies looking to hire graduate management students.
Employers in the U.S. expect to pay MBA graduates substantially more in 2012 than new hires with only a bachelor's degree. This translates into annual earnings for new MBAs that are $40,000 higher, on average, than the salaries bachelor's degree-holders can expect, according to the survey.
The most popular industries with 2012 graduates were products and services, consulting and finance/accounting. The products and services sector yielded the fewest job offers for this year's graduates, but also saw the highest increase in salary from pre-degree to post-degree earnings (75 percent).
In an industry attractiveness index developed by GMAC, more graduates are switching out of the finance/accounting sector than are switching into it in 2012. Despite graduates' highest success rate in landing a job in the manufacturing sector (76 percent), the manufacturing industry is seeing more graduates leaving the industry than switching into it.
"As companies begin to act on plans to expand, they are hiring talent to help manage strategy and growth to sustain the business for the long term," said Dave Wilson, president and CEO of GMAC. "Particularly noteworthy is the expansion of hiring among smaller companies in our survey, which are key drivers of economic activity. These entrepreneurial firms see real value in the skills that management graduates bring to the workforce."
Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.