The Hottest Skills that will Land You the Hottest Jobs

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What are recruiters really looking for?

recent Businessweek article highlights the top skills job-seekers need to make the greatest impression on headhunters and future employers. What’s not high up on the list? Involvement in startups. According to the recruiters surveyed in BW’s 2014 b-school rankings, employees who are entrepreneurial thinkers and “cosmopolitan self-starters” aren’t as important as employees who can “write clean e-mails, work in a team, and think analytically.”

Businessweek’s polled 1320 MBA recruiters from various industries, asking them to choose up to five skills or assets from a list of 14. Here’s what they found were most important (the top three) and least important (the bottom three):

 68% — Good communication

• 60% — Analytical thinking

• 55% — Ability to work collaboratively

• 15.2% — Industry-related work experience

• 12.3% — Global mindset

• 8.9% — Entrepreneurship

See BW’s chart for more details:

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Recruiters said that the following skills/assets were the most difficult to find among job applicants:

• 47.3% — Strategic thinking

• 44.4% — Creative problem-solving

• 42.2% — Leadership skills

Here’s the BW chart on that:

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Related Resources:

• MBA Hiring Expected to Increase in 2015
• MBA Project Search: Matchmaking for MBAs and Businesses
• 5 Tips to Find a Satisfying Career

MBA Hiring Expected to Increase in 2015

MBA hiring expected to increase in 2015

72% of employers plan on hiring MBA graduates in 2015

GMAC’s 2014 Year-End Employer Poll

Here are some highlights from GMAC’s 2014 Year-End Employer Poll. Spoiler: It’s good news!

• 169 employers from 33 countries were interviewed. This is a relatively small sample.

• Overall, the job market remains strong for 2015 b-school grads.

• 90% of employers that expect to hire b-school graduates in 2015 expect to maintain or increase the number of job openings compared with hiring in 2014.

• 72% of employers plan on hiring MBA graduates in 2015, compared to 69% in 2014.

• The majority of employers (54%-74%) plan on increasing starting salaries at or above the rate of inflation in 2015.

• 64% of employers say that their companies are expanding and that they plan on hiring more business school graduates.

• 87% of employers expect to offer internships to students. Usually these internships will go towards bachelor’s graduates (73% of employers). This is followed by MBA grads (55% of employers).

• 96% of employers agree that business school graduates create value for their companies.

As usual, the greatest hiring demand is for MBA graduates; though Master in Management grads are projected to experience the largest increase in hiring.

GMAC Hiring report 2015 projections

According to GMAC’s Survey Research Manager, Rebecca Estrada Worthingon, “The solid job prospects for b-school talent seen over the past several years and again reflected in this poll, give prospective students good reason to consider pursuing these degrees as part of a strategy to drive their career goals….Our data show that even in the depths of the recession, business and management degrees can provide a measure of job protection and opportunity. Today, in a recovering global economy, management degrees can be a powerful driver of confidence and provide fuel for an individual’s career growth.”

See the 2014 Year-End Poll of Employers Report and the GMAC press release for more details.

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25 Top MBA Employers According to MBA Students

25 Top MBA Employers According to MBA Students

B-school students were surveyed on where they want to work most by the Universum USA research firm. Let’s see how this year’s results varied from last year’s and the year before:

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Much as with school rankings the rankings of top employers change slowly. #1 and #2 are unchanged for the last three years with Google claiming the top spot and McKinsey #2. For most of the top fifteen, these rankings mostly move around the deck chairs, but the players stay on the same deck.

Still there were a few winners and losers in the Universum ranking. The winners include Price Waterhouse, which jumped a whopping 13 spots from 2013 to 2014 (27 to 14) and that was on top of a two-spot jump from 2012 to 2013. Ernst & Young soared from 33 in 2013 to 23 in 2014, also following up a two-point gain the preceding year; Accenture climbed from 29 to 22; and Deloitte skipped up from 9 to 7 after moving up from 11 in 2012. Apparently the consulting and accounting firms are becoming more popular among MBAs. In fact the only consulting firm that dropped was BCG which went down an insignificant one notch from 5 to 6. Another noticeable gainer is Morgan Stanley which flew from 31 to 19, but that change was really just a reversal of its equal drop the preceding year.

The losers? Starbucks sank from 15 to 24. IBM dropped from 19 to 25. BMW declined a whopping 13 spots from 23 in 2013 to 36 in 2014.

Are You Misusing the B-School Rankings?

2014 B-School Grads Flock to Jobs in Tech, Healthcare, and Manufacturing

A GMAC press release presents the results of the most recent global student exit survey (of 3049 grads from 111 schools who responded in February and March), revealing that those students seeking jobs in traditional fields like consulting, products/services, and finance/accounting were more likely to have a difficult time securing a position early in the hiring cycle that those looking for work in smaller, less traditional fields such as technology, manufacturing, and healthcare.

Check out the GMAC press release.

Image from the GMAC press release

Here are some highlights from the report:

 • 57% of 2014 business school graduates (MBA and others) received at least one early job offer, down 3% from last year, but up 25% from 2010.

 • 62% of students were involved in the job search; 4% were planning on pursuing entrepreneurship or were already self-employed.

 • There was an 80% median salary increase (over their pre-degree salary) for those who received job offers, up 7% since last year.

 • 61% of job seekers in the tech industry received job offers, accounting for 15% of the total number of grads who received early job offers; this is up since last year’s 9%.

 • Students in the manufacturing and healthcare/pharmaceuticals industries had the greatest success rate landing job at 74% reporting at least one job offer, and accounting for 7% and 5% respectively of all early offers.

 • 27% of career changers who received job offers were in the consulting.

 • 21% of all job seekers who received job offers were in consulting, up slightly since 2010 (20%).

 • 26% of all job seekers who received job offers were in the finance/accounting sector, up since 24% last year, but down from 2010’s 30%.

 • 62% of graduates in the government/non-profit sector received early offers, accounting for 5% of all job seekers who received job offers.

The following stats come from the Financial Times article on the subject, “Technology companies become magnet for MBA students”:

 • At London Business School, more graduates received job offers at tech companies than at financial institutions. Eleven class of 2013 grads landed jobs at Amazon, while Citi hired only eight. Seven grads were recruited by Google, and only five received job offers from HSBC.

 • In 2013, Stanford GSB sent more grads to tech companies than to banks for the second year in a row – 32% in 2013 went into technology, which followed 24% in 2012 and 13% in 2011. Of those who headed to tech companies, 40% went to small and medium-sized companies, 40% went to large companies, and 20% went to startups.

According to the FT article, a number of factors are responsible for this monumental shift. Steve Dalton, Duke Fuqua’s senior associate director of MBA student services, reports that promotions and job security, two previously high scoring advantages for the banking industry, are on the decline, making alternative fields more attractive. But, according to David Morris, LBS career services’ head of corporate sectors, in explaining tech’s growing and banking’s declining popularity, money’s not the main draw – “People are excited about the company and the product – that’s the main driver, not the money,” he says.

You can read more about the results of the GMAC survey in the Poets & Quants article, “Job Offers Up In Tech & Healthcare.”

Navigating the MBA Maze

GMAC Survey Finds More Employers Eager to Hire MBAs

Last week GMAC released the findings of its annual Corporate Recruiters Survey of 565 employers from 44 countries around the world – and results are looking good for business school graduates! Employers around the world are placing more value on the MBA degree, proving that the degree is a good investment.

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Percentage of companies hiring new graduates, by degree type. Source: Graduate Management Admission Council 2014 Corporate Recruiters Survey.

Here are several highlights from the report:

• 80% of employers plan on hiring MBAs in 2014, up 7% from 2013 and up 30% since 2009. (In 2009, only half of recruiters hired MBAs.)

• Projected hiring in all sectors is at the highest it’s been since the Great Recession in 2009.

• Only 25% of companies reported a focus on overcoming economic challenges, compared to 58% of companies in 2009.

• 74% of employers plan on hiring bachelor’s degree graduates, compared to 75% in 2012 and 2013 (in other words, no significant difference). In 2009, only 56% hired bachelor’s degree grads.

• 86% of U.S. employers, 83% of employers in the Asia-Pacific region, and 61% of employers from Europe all plan on hiring MBAs in 2014. All have increased since 2012.

• 50% of employers plan on hiring grads from master in management programs, an increase from 45% in 2013 and 18% in 2009.

• 45% plan on hiring grads from master of accounting programs, compared to 36% in 2013 and 17% in 2010.

• The numbers for master in finance grads are as follows: 44% of employers plan on hiring this year, compared to 39% last year and 41% the year before.

• Employers rated communication skills as the most important skill they look for in new hires, ranking it twice as important as the next winner, managerial skills. Other skill options were teamwork, technical, and leadership.

• Salaries – They are flat, but at a comfortably high plateau. Employers plan on offering newly minted MBAs an average of US$95,000 in the U.S., US$69,000 in Europe, and US$21,340 in Asia-Pacific. For bachelor’s degree holders, median base salaries expect to run at US$50,000 in the U.S. and US$41,000 in Europe.

My Thoughts

Most commentators on the b-school biz are justifiably happy with the results of this survey. So am I. Here’s why and a few other observations:

1. The most obvious reason to be thrilled with these results is the buoyant job market, especially for MBAs. MBAs are in demand. But they’re not the only ones – holders of specialized degrees in business are also sought after, and with a lower out-of-pocket and opportunity cost than the MBA. Many professional organizations and fields outside of business (law and academia for example) would think they had died and gone to heaven if they could report stats like these.

For those of you in college or just out and trying to decide on career direction, if you have any interest in business or a specific area of business, explore that field. Perhaps get an internship or get a job in that area. Talk to people working in that field. If you enjoy it, consider a specialized masters or MBA to enhance your professional skills and opportunities.

At the same time, and at the risk of being repetitive, every graduate school applicant has to determine that they have a goal requiring a specific course of study and that the course of study is likely to be worth the cost. The payoff can be and usually needs to be financial, but it can also be in terms of improved career satisfaction or simply learning. That is a determination for you to make, but it is one you must make before you commit to an expensive, time-consuming graduate education – even an MBA.

2. The growing popularity of specialized masters, specifically the Masters in Management, among recruiters is striking. It’s less expensive for recruiters to hire holders of Masters in Management, and it’s less expensive for students to acquire the degree.

GMAC 2014 hiring by degree graphic

I would love to see data on how much MBAs vs. MiMs are making let’s say 10 years after graduating college. Now that would be an interesting report. So far it’s not out, but if such a report were to show little or no difference in earnings at that stage in one’s career, than the MiM may be the way to go and the traditional two-year MBA has one more source of significant competition.

Even without that data, as a result of the MiM’s recruiting mojo and reduced cost for students, expect to see more programs developing Masters in Management for early career candidates. Ross, Duke, and London Business School already offer it. It wouldn’t shock me if others offer this kind of a program soon; I would keep my eye on Tuck, Kellogg, and Cornell for early-career Masters in Management programs. MIT Sloan, LBS, and Stanford GSB already have Masters in Management aimed at mid-career professionals.

I also anticipate that more MBA programs will follow Cornell and Kellogg’s lead and offer accelerated MBAs for those with advanced degrees or strong business background. That implies that if you have an MiM and later decide you want your MBA, you would eventually reduce the out-of-pocket and opportunity cost of your MBA.

Finally, those of you who are long-time readers of Accepted’s blog may remember that we picked up on this trend about a year and a half ago in “Grad Degrees that Lead to Jobs,” when looking at an earlier GMAC Poll of Employers. (Sometimes I just gotta say, “I told you say so.” Just a little crowing. :-) )

3. Another remarkable piece of info in this report is the high value employers around the world and in various disciplines place on communications skills when choosing whom to hire among business school graduates.

GMAC 2014 top skills Employers see


I wonder if the technical number crunching is taken for granted as a given by recruiters. Consequently what separates those hired from those receiving form rejection letters of consolation are communications skills.

4. The flatness of salaries amidst growing demand for b-school grads and rising tuitions. It is not shocking that salaries haven’t climbed given the recent recession. The good news is that the average MBA salary in the U.S. still provides a significant premium over average salaries for recent college grads. The bad news is that tuitions are continuing their seemingly inexorable rise. For an applicant considering an MBA or any other graduate degree, again, you need to evaluate whether the benefit, for you – not the average Joe or Jane – is worth the cost.

For most students in MBA and specialized masters programs, as this GMAC 2014 Survey Shows, it’s lookin’ good. Real good.

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Linda Abraham By , president and founder of and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.