Companies that hire MBA graduates are more optimistic about their recruiting plans this year. Only half are blaming the economy for limiting their hiring, compared to 69 percent only two years ago, according to the 2004 Corporate Recruiters Survey just released by the Graduate Management Admission CouncilÂ® (GMACÂ®).
Improvement in the economy has also allowed more companies to hire new MBAs. The number of recruiters unable to hire recent MBA grads dropped by half this year -- from 23 percent in 2003 to 12 percent in 2004.
"Clearly, the economic recovery is beginning to open up more opportunities for MBA graduates," said David A. Wilson, president and CEO of GMACÂ®. "In fact, companies plan to hire more people for every job category we tracked. These results are very encouraging."
The top jobs for which recruiters are hiring are the same as in the previous years -- finance, marketing, and accounting, in that order. On a worldwide basis, 62 percent of recruiters indicated they are hiring for jobs in finance, 49 percent for marketing positions, and 30 percent for accounting.
Hiring activity in marketing increased more than in any other job category over the past two years, jumping 15 percent over last year and a total of 18 percent since 2002. Accounting and finance, while still popular areas of specialization, saw more moderate growth in hiring activity over the same two- year period.
The top characteristics employers seek in new MBA hires are strong communication and interpersonal skills, a proven ability to perform, and a cultural fit with the company. Failure to demonstrate these characteristics was considered a "deal breaker" by significant numbers of recruiters, indicating that solid skills alone are no guarantee of a job offer.
"Recruiters are looking for people who can not only do the job but who are a fit with the company's culture and relate well to other employees," Wilson said. "That's why it is critical to assess your skills and know what kinds of companies and cultures you're best suited for before you start interviewing. Career self-assessment tools are a good first step toward job placement success."
A total of 1,300 recruiters representing 1,004 companies worldwide participated in the survey.