The Unpredictable Job Market. How does it affect MBAs? [VIDEO]

The current job market…well it’s a mixed bag.

Economists say the job market is still hot, but while U.S. job numbers peaked in July 2022, they have trended downward ever since. Companies added about 45 percent fewer jobs in October than that peak in July. 

Here’s why it’s a mixed bag. Some big tech firms like Meta and Google are slowing hiring and laying off workers. While consulting firms like Bain and McKinsey & Company are reportedly bumping up MBA base salaries. 

So, if you’re an MBA student or recent grad looking for a job, here’s what all this means for your job search.

The Unpredictable Job Market. How does it affect MBAs?

Tech Giants are Slowing Hiring

“So much has changed even from last academic year,” says LaTanya Johns, Assistant Dean of Career Management and Corporate Engagement at Simon Business School at the University of Rochester. 

Johns says opportunities across all industries ballooned in 2021, especially in tech and financial services.

“As we shift into this upcoming academic year, yes, there will be some changes, there’ll be some slowdowns,” she explains.

For months, economists have warned that high interest rates and fears of a looming recession might slow job growth.

And we’re seeing it.

Some tech giants have been slowing or freezing hiring as they brace for a downturn or address poor market performance. 

And banking firms like Goldman Sachs report reversing aggressive hiring plans.

But Corporate Recruiters Say They’re Hiring MBAs

Despite reports of slowed hiring at big name companies, MBAs should not be too alarmed, according to Johns.

“The opportunities are there,” she says.

Her sentiment is in line with the 2022 Corporate Recruiter Survey, an annual assessment of MBA and business school hiring trends conducted by the Graduate Management Admission.

In the survey, 92% of respondents say they plan to hire newly minted MBAs this year. 

The unpredictable economy is benefiting one industry in particular–consulting. Presumably because companies are seeking advice in how to navigate the times. It may also reflect why big consulting firms like McKinsey & Company and Bain have shared plans to increase base salaries for entry-level MBAs to $190,000, a $15,000 increase to attract top MBAs.

However, employers across industries continue to say they value MBA candidates.

“Companies need colleagues who can learn and adapt quickly. MBA students have had to do that in their studies and learn both the hard and soft skills we need to be successful,” said a health care recruiter quote in the GMAC corporate recruiter survey.

Lean Into Your Agility & School Resources

In MBA programs, students are taught how to navigate uncertainty. They’ll need to tap into those lessons to weather this current job market, according to Sevin Yeltekin, Dean of Simon Business School.

“It’s an incredibly agile, variable skill that you can take from job to job from position to position from industry to industry,” she adds.

Then there’s the business school events and networking opportunities.

“When you’re in a university and especially in the business school, you get to participate in a different type of recruiting,” explains Johns. “And I have not seen [hiring there] slowing down yet.” 

She says MBAs benefit from program hiring, a practice where companies partner with universities to recruit students who have their target skillsets. This can give MBAs a better chance of standing out for positions compared to simply applying to openings on job sites without prior connections.

“It also just kind of insulates us in some ways from the chaos that will probably start to be created because of the impacts of inflation, stock market, and all the above,” Johns adds.

Five Tips for MBAs on the Job Hunt

Despite the advantages MBAs may have in the uncertain job market, Johns and Yeltekin still recommend taking these measures to improve your job prospects:

1. Prioritize student and alumni relationships

“We’re going into more of a remote work environment, but don’t let [your relationships] slip. If anything, put in a little extra effort,” says Yeltekin.

2. Don’t wed yourself to a specific job title 

Instead, look for jobs that compliment your skills because, “companies are re-branding and repackaging the roles that they have for business students,” explains Johns.

3. Know (and have) the high demand skills in your field

“You have to look at what’s changed in your industry, especially during the pandemic, and what the business needs are,” says Johns. “That’s always going to prevail over what the students think they want to do and what is available.”

4. Be prepared to articulate your unique value

“Taking time to reflect on who you are as a candidate and what you can contribute is so important,” says Johns. “And I think that’s not where people focus a lot of their time during a job search. They’re basically trying to fit it into a position versus finding a position that can fit into their unique skill set.”

5. Trust your MBA training

“I really believe that confidence transcends any of the ebbs and flows that you will see over the lifetime of your career,” adds Johns.

unpredictable job market and how MBAs can navigate

Photo by Daria Pimkina

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Shernay is a mom, entrepreneur, and lifelong learner who's been fortunate to spend her entire professional career telling stories. She has more than a decade of experience as a TV, print, and radio journalist for local and national news outlets. In 2016, she launched a content firm to help nonprofits and businesses tell their stories more strategically. Her passions: mom empowerment, entrepreneurship, and self-development.

She lives outside of Baltimore with her two sons.

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