Introducing GMAC’s New Reflect Self-Assessment Tool

Reflect Self-Assessment Tool


GMAC has just launched a self-assessment and development tool called Reflect™. The online program will help MBA applicants and MBA graduates discover and strengthen their professional and personal strengths, measure soft skills, identify and improve weaknesses, and create an action plan to help boost job performance. The tool will help put incoming students on the right path to find and then advance in their ideal careers.

John Byrne from Poets & Quants offers a thorough review of Reflect. He explains how the assessment works – 574 questions, some of them “rather silly or frivolous” (you can see his examples on his post), to be completed and then analyzed by the program. The user than receives grades in 10 different competencies. Bryne likens Reflect to the Myers-Briggs test, but instead of focusing on psychological preferences focuses on soft skills solutions. Applicants can use the tool to showcase their leadership qualities to graduate school adcoms, while graduates can gain a new way to present themselves to corporate recruiters.

One benefit of Reflect (compared to other assessment programs) is that the tool can be used effectively without a coach or facilitator – all you need is a computer.

Once you receive your scores, you’ll also gain access to 200 learning resources to help you develop a customized work plan, 300 tips, and guidance on career benchmarking in various job functions.

The Reflect tool costs $99.99.

See GMAC’s Reflect™ Self-Assessment and Development Tool for more details. ~ Helping You Write Your Best

Busting Two MBA Myths


“Assess your needs.”

Thanks to those of you who stopped at’s table at the Los Angeles MBA Tour event a couple of weeks ago and shared your thoughts, doubts, questions, and experiences. I enjoyed meeting you.

I was bothered, however, by a certain refrain I heard a few times during the evening. Basically two related MBA myths that deserve busting:

Myth #1: Once you attend an MBA program outside the Top 10, it doesn’t matter which school you attend, so you may as well go to the cheapest one you get into.

Myth #2: It doesn’t pay to get an MBA outside the M7/Top 10.

When asked my opinion of these MBA memes, I politely explained why I thought they are utter nonsense, the product of lazy minds. Nothing more. The reality is much more complex.

Schools inside and outside the Top 10 vary in terms of their approach to management education and their strengths. Some schools outside the Top X may be excellent for a given specialty. For example, Smeal and Broad are generally not in any overall Top 10 ranking. However, both programs are very well regarded for supply chain management and logistics. They may be excellent choices if that’s your interest. Babson is renowned for teaching entrepreneurship; it is usually in the bottom half of the top 50 overall. Similarly Thunderbird is excellent for international business. For those specialties, these schools may be better programs than programs ranked overall in the Top 10.

Obviously there are a lot more schools outside the top 10 than in it, and the differences among all the schools are many. Applicants need to understand those differences and seek schools with the curricular, extra-curricular, and career management strengths to help them achieve their goals. Then applicants can compare costs and anticipated return. If applicants choose a school based on Myth #1 and without the analysis I suggest, applicants are simply basing a major investment in time and money on folklore.

Whether it pays to get an MBA at School X, regardless of that school being in the Top 10, Top 20, or Top 50, depends on both the school and on you. Here are a few questions that you need to answer:

  1. How much are you making currently? (That will determine your opportunity cost if you are considering a full-time program.)
  2. What is the typical salary of MBA grads from your target program who found a job in your area of interest? (School averages are much less worthwhile.)
  3. Is there a non-financial benefit that you seek in addition to classic financial ROI? (Moving into a job you will enjoy, for example.)

While it is true that average salaries at different schools tend to decline as you go down the rankings, for the overwhelming majority of MBAs, ROI is positive and MBA alumni satisfaction per GMAC surveys is overwhelmingly high despite two recessions in the last ten years. And that data includes survey responses from non-Top 10 schools.

Don’t trust myths about rankings to determine where you invest your time and money. Don’t rely on fable and fantasy to make a major life decision. Do your homework, as the applicants at The MBA Tour were doing. Learn about the schools; don’t focus on their rankings.

Assess your needs. Determine your investment including opportunity cost. Evaluate probable return – both financial and non-financial – at schools that meet your needs.

Then, and only then, decide whether your MBA is worth the cost and which ones are right for you.

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.

Job Opportunities Increase for B-School Students

MBA Jobs

“Things are looking good!”

We recently posted an article on the current job market for 2012 business degree holders (see “Job Market Looking Good for Class of 2012 Business Grads”). Now we’ll offer some related information from a Poets & Quants article on a report released by the MBA Career Services Council on February 4th. Here are some highlights from the P&Q post:

  • In 2012, 45% of b-schools reported a boost in on-campus activity for full-time jobs. (That’s following a 70% increase in 2011.)
  • Last year, 58% of programs reported an increase in full-time job postings (on top of a 68% increase the year before).
  • 45% of schools also reported an increase in on-campus recruiting (the same as last year), compared to 15% that experienced an on-campus recruiting decrease.
  • For schools ranked in the top 20, 47% of programs reported an increase in on-campus, full-time opportunities; 13% reported a decline.
  • Among those schools ranked from 21st to 50th place, 40% reported increases and 20% reported decreases.
  • 60% of b-schools ranked 51st to 100th reported increases while 15% reported a decrease.
  • 30% of schools reported job increases in the following industries: consulting, consumer products, energy, financial services, healthcare products/pharmaceuticals/biotech, real estate, and technology.
  • 50% of b-schools reported an increase in on-campus internship recruiting.
  • 53% saw increases in internship job postings.
  • For internships, the industries with the largest increases were the technology and consulting industries.

Notice that a school’s ranking bears little to no bearing on its increases in job offers.

Things are looking good! ~ Helping You Write Your Best


Job Market Looking Good for Class of 2012 Business Grads

According to a recent GMAC press release, the job market is strong for 2012 business and management graduates. The report states that 92% of grads surveyed were employed within three months of graduating; in 2011, that percentage was 86%. GMAC surveyed 834 members of the class of 2012 among the 4,444 MBA and graduate business alumni who participated in the survey.

Here are some more highlights from the press release:

  • 77% of class of 2012 grads said that their starting salaries met or exceeded their expectations.
  • 76% of grads said they wouldn’t have been able to secure their jobs without their management/business degree.
  • Median salary for full-time two-year MBA grads was $85,000 last year; for full-time one-year MBA grads, that number was considerably less at $59,000.
  • Self-employment rates ranged depending on where grads operated their businesses. In the Middle East and Africa, that rate was at 20%, while in the U.S. it hit only 5%. Self-employment rates in Latin America were 13%, in Europe 11%, and 6% in Asia/Pacific Islands.
  • 95% of alumni value their business/management education as good to outstanding.

GMAC Alumni SurveyThe GMAC Alumni Survey certainly provides encouragement to those seeking a graduate management degree because of the incredibly high degree of alumni satisfaction combined with improving employment rates, but one should also note that there are other factors that improve salaries upon graduation:

  1. 2012 grads with at least three years of work experience at matriculation earned $25,000 more on average at graduation than those with less experience.
  2. Alumni who had an internship during their program saw an average $21,995 increase in salary at graduation compared to those who didn’t have an internship.

Take-aways for MBA Applicants from the GMAC Alumni Survey

  1. Reports of the MBA’s near-term demise are overblown. That doesn’t mean that inexorably rising tuition and fairly flat salaries will have no impact. If these trends continue, they definitely will. In fact, they are probably pushing the schools to experiment more with accelerated programs, as Kellogg is doing, and to offer more specialized, one-year masters degrees, as many programs are doing. However, in the short-term the threat to the traditional two-year, full-time MBA comes from alternatives not from lack of satisfaction with the degree or poor employment prospects.
  2. Early career applicants are going to find increasing difficulty making a case for themselves when applying. Employment is a big driver of admissions decisions. And average salaries are a major factor in school reputation and several rankings. If less experienced applicants don’t command similar salaries, two-year programs are going to prefer more experienced applicants.
  3. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: You need to arrive on campus with a clear idea of what you want from your MBA. Then you’ll know which internships to aim for. Internship recruiting starts within weeks of schools opening, and you want to be ready. Landing a great internship can put you ahead when you seek your full-time job and pay off big time as you can see from #2 above. If you flounder due to lack of focus and direction, you reduce the likelihood of getting an internship at all, which can shrink the value of your entire MBA experience. Let your MBA goals guide you.

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.


The Importance of Being Employable

Good Goals

“Start with the end in mind.”

Being “employable” won’t just earn you a good job, but may also help you secure a seat in a top business school. A recent Wall Street Journal article talks about the increased emphasis b-school admissions boards are placing on job placement. In an uncertain job market, schools want to show that they can place their students in prime positions; the best way to do this, of course, is to admit highly employable applicants.

Admissions boards are inviting career services staff to weigh in on admissions decisions. In addition to matching up potential students with industry needs, career services representatives are also evaluating leadership potential and interview capabilities. In a way, by having the career services staff on the admissions board, adcoms learn to evaluate applicants as corporate recruiters might – they look for applicants who will have “the same traits a hiring manager might, such as the ability to assess a problem and self-edit their remarks.” Additionally, this “integrated” admissions approach helps the students set out on a clear career path early on in the game.


I’ve said it for years, and it is the premise of my book, MBA Admission for Smarties: Realistic, attainable professional goals are a must when you apply to business school. You need them to guide you in choosing schools and to show “fit.” You need them to hit the ground running and to dodge the flood of activities and internship recruiting when you arrive on campus.  And not surprisingly, you need them more and more simply to get in, just like the GMAT (or GRE) and an undergraduate transcript.

Too many applicants try to shoe-horn or manufacture a goal based on what they imagine the schools will want to hear. That’s backwards. Figure out first what you want to do post-MBA. Then research the schools that will help you do it.

Good goals are the foundation of employability, but there clearly is much more to it than one’s aspirations, as the article points out. EQ, leadership, communication, and a host of personal qualities are also critical to employability. Make sure you show them not only in your essays, but in all interactions with school representatives.

Obviously an appropriate goal and even employability are not sufficient to guarantee acceptance; you also need to be competitive. But by starting with the end in mind and showing that you, with your professional experience, academic credentials and personal qualities PLUS the MBA experience at Top Choice U are employable, you are enhancing your chances of acceptance and of that plum position upon graduation.

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.

2012 Employer Rankings of Global B-Schools

Global B-Schools

Global B-Schools

QS World MBA Tour recently compiled a report on the world’s top 200 business schools according to employers. The findings are based on a survey of over 3,300 international recruiters for full-time MBA graduates. Employers that focus on domestic hiring only were not included. Employers were asked to identify those schools (out of a list of 500 global business schools) that they found attractive in regards to MBA hiring.

Employers chosen were spread across 20 major industries, with consulting and professional services representing the largest sector. This is followed by banking and financial services and then HR/recruitment services. Other industries include manufacturing FMCG, IT, and energy. (You can view the chart on page 18 of the report for more details. Please note that it is not clear what the minimum number of hires a recruiter had to have to be included in the report)

In terms of geographical distribution of the employers, the breakdown goes as follows:

  • Latin America 33%
  • Asia Pacific 29%
  • Western Europe 20%
  • Africa & Middle East 6%
  • Eastern Europe 6%
  • US & Canada 6%

The report categorizes the ranking in various ways, so we’ll present here a sampling. See the full report for the full rankings.

Elite Global 2012: North America (2011 rankings are in parentheses)

  1. Harvard Business School (1)
  2. Northwestern Kellogg (3)
  3. Stanford Graduate School of Business (2)
  4. Wharton (4)
  5. Columbia Business School (5)
  6. Chicago Booth (6)
  7. MIT Sloan (7)
  8. UC Berkeley Haas (8)
  9. UCLA Anderson (9)
  10. Duke Fuqua (10)

Elite Global 2012: Europe (2011 rankings are in parentheses)

  1. INSEAD – France (1)
  2. London Business School – UK (2)
  3. IMD – Switzerland (8)
  4. IE Business School – Spain (5)
  5. IESE Business School – Spain (4)
  6. Oxford Saïd – UK (3)
  7. SDA Bocconi School of Management – Italy (6)
  8. HEC MBA Program – France (9)
  9. ESADE Business School – Spain (7)
  10. The St. Gallen MBA – Switzerland (18)

Specializations: Finance

  1. Wharton (1)
  2. Chicago Booth (2)
  3. London Business School (3)
  4. Harvard Business School (5)
  5. NYU Stern (4)
  6. Columbia (6)
  7. INSEAD – France (7)
  8. IE Business School (8)
  9. Stanford GSB (9)
  10. Northwestern Kellogg (10)

Specializations: Entrepreneurship

  1. Harvard (1)
  2. Stanford (2)
  3. Wharton (3)
  4. IE Business School (5)
  5. INSEAD – France (4)
  6. MIT Sloan (7)
  7. Babson College (6)
  8. London Business School (8)
  9. Northwester Kellogg (9)
  10. Columbia (11)

Specializations: Corporate Social Responsibility

  1. Harvard Business School (1)
  2. Stanford GSB (2)
  3. INSEAD – France (3)
  4. Wharton (4)
  5. IE Business School (11)
  6. Columbia (8)
  7. Dartmouth Tuck (5)
  8. London Business School (15)
  9. Northwestern Kellogg (7)
  10. Michigan Ross (9)

Other specializations include Innovation, Information Management, International Management, Leadership, Marketing, Operations Management, and Strategy.

// ~ Helping You Write Your Best

Grad Degrees that Lead to Jobs

Where are the headlines? Where are the screaming press releases? The talking heads proclaiming opportunity?

Right here folks:

One-Year Graduate Programs See Sharp Rise in Recruiter Interest

One-year specialized masters programs in business have seen a 30+% increase in recruiter interest per GMAC‘s 2012 Year-end Poll of Employers. At a time when recruiter interest in people with a bachelor’s degree has actually declined slightly, specialized business masters programs are increasingly viable and appealing options for college graduates according to a survey of 200+ employers conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council.

Percentage Increase in Recruiters Hiring -- Specialized Masters

Who are these programs for?

Perhaps someone like you, if you:

  • Are currently a hard science major, but not too keen on spending your working life chained to a lab bench. And you find that business intrigues you.
  • Studied communications, but are less than thrilled with a starting average salary of $42,286*, and are attracted to commerce as well as communications.
  • Thought you would like to be a doctor, but organic chemistry and molecular genetics zapped your GPA while the world of medical devices has captured your imagination and passion.
  • Studied political science because you liked it and had some vague notion of becoming a lawyer, but the current legal job market necessitates a Plan B.

And What About ROI?

It’s great that recruiters are looking to hire more of these degree-holders, but is the education worth the cost? That depends. Let’s take a look at a few salary figures for college grads in specific fields:

Bachelors Average Salaries

Let’s also examine a few specialized masters programs and average salaries for those grads:

Specialized Masters Salaries

Obviously, there is variability here, and the specifics matter. You as an individual need to weigh your tuition and opportunity cost (the earnings you lose by not working for a year) against the anticipated increase in earnings associated with your particular specialized masters. You should also consider the value of pursuing a career you enjoy.

If the average cost of tuition is $50K and the opportunity cost is let’s say $45K, then your educational investment is $95K.  Let’s examine the anticipated return: If your earnings are increased by $20,000 per year as a result of your degree, you recoup your investment in roughly five years. (Yes I know I have not calculated the future value of money, non-financial benefits, the multiplier impact of salary increases starting at a higher base, and the impact of bonuses, but I’m trying to keep this simple.)

Curious about the recruiting experience of one leading specialized masters program, I spoke to Sheryle Dirks, Associate Dean for Career Management at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. I asked to what she attributed the increased recruiter interested in these one-year degrees and specifically in Fuqua’s MMS holders.

She attributed it to two main factors:

  1. Recognition of these degrees and their value to employers is increasing as grads make their impact in the workplace. She proudly said Fuqua’s MMS program gets a lot of “repeat business” from recruiters.
  2. Business continues to evolve and remains a “complex animal.” Companies, frequently the same ones that hire MBAs, are seeing benefit in hiring for their entry level positions people with a bachelors in a field other than business supplemented by rigorous business analytical skills and a strategic framework.


  1. Yes Virginia, you can pursue non-business interests in college and study business later. The combination can be powerful in the marketplace.
  2. If you are a college senior looking for a job and concerned that you won’t find one, consider applying to specialized masters programs while seeking that career-propelling position. And if you don’t get the job of your dreams, attending a top specialized masters program may be better for your career than flipping burgers or doing data entry.
  3. If you are already in the work force, realize that hiring for MBAs and a variety of specialized masters programs that cater to more experienced students is also up. The percentage increase is smaller, but existing demand was much greater.

Let your goals guide you. Do your cost-benefit analysis. And then pursue an education likely to lead to a satisfying career AND to provide a return on the investment you made to acquire it.

* From NACE 2012 Salary Survey

This article first appeared on Technorati.


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. ~ Helping You Write Your Bes

MBA Hiring 2013 Looking Up – Specialized Master’s on Fire!

MBA Hiring UPAccording to a GMAC press release, employers are expressing early optimism for 2013 MBA hiring. Here are some of the key findings of the GMAC’s 2012 Year-End Poll of Employers, which includes responses from over 200 employers who hire students from graduate business programs:

  • 76% of employers expect to hire 2013 MBA grads. Last year, only 69% hired 2012 grads.
  • 43% of employers plan on hiring Master in Management grads (up 10% from last year).
  • 40% expect to hire Master of Accounting grads (up 8% from last year).
  • 39% intend to hire Master of Finance grads (up 7% from last year).
  • 46% expect to hire other business MA degree holders (up 12% from last year).

For internships, 85% of employers plan on hiring interns in 2013. 65% expect to hire undergrad interns and 65% plan on using MBA interns.

While the MBA market is showing a healthy increase in anticipated hiring, salaries will remain fairly stable. Most employers plan to increase salaries at or above the rate of inflation. Only 1 in 8 intends to increase average base salary above the rate of inflation so soaring salaries are not in sight for 2013 MBA grads. Approximately 40% will keep starting salaries the same as in 2012. All this is good news if you are in business school or are out in the working world with 2-5 years of experience and are considering pursuit of an MBA.

The real news, however, in the above stats is the anticipated relative increase in hiring for the specialized masters programs vs. the slight decline in anticipated hiring for bachelor’s degree holders. Among the 200 employers who responded to the GMAC survey, the specialized degrees are increasingly in demand.

Percentage Increase in Employers Hiring
Direct from Industry






Nonbusiness master’s


Specialized business master’s


Master in Management


Master of Accounting


Master of Finance


While MBA grads can anticipate a healthy job market and increased hiring, the 2013 market for specialized masters, especially the MiM, is showing striking strength and demand over 2012.

Seniors – especially seniors without a biz undergrad – take note. Look at the average salaries for MiM grads and what you are likely to make without the MiM or MAcc or whatever specialized business master’s degree tickles your fancy. You may find that pursuing a specialized one-year business master’s degree gives you a real edge in the job market, positive ROI, skills that are in demand – all at a time in your career when your opportunity cost is much lower. Also, if you later decide to pursue an MBA, chances are increasing that the business schools may either shorten your MBA to one year or allow you to take more electives and advanced courses because you have the basics as a result of your specialized masters. These programs can be an excellent launchpad for your business career.

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McKinsey’s Top 10 Go-To B-Schools

Management Consulting Jobs

McKinsey Hires From Over 100 B-Schools

As one of the most coveted management consulting firms in the world, McKinsey pretty much gets their pick of MBA graduates. Businessweek recently published an article which provided the top 10 “go-to” b-schools for McKinsey. This year, McKinsey hired 387 graduates from over 100 b-schools. The following chart (taken from BW) shows the top 10 schools.

Go-To Schools for Mckinsey

1. INSEAD  21.62%
2. Tuck School  7.14%
3. Wharton School  6.78%
4. Kellogg School  6.50%
5. Booth School  5.11%
6. Columbia Business School  4.55%
7. Fuqua School  4.10%
8. Darden School  4.07%
 9. Ross School  2.85%
 10. IE Business School  2.52%

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek

Note: Not all schools provided the information regarding their top MBA employers. That’s why, as you probably noticed, elite programs like Harvard Business School, Stanford, London Business School, and NYU Stern are missing from the above list. Poets & Quants estimates that these programs sent the following number of grads to McKinsey.


2012 Estimated Hires

Harvard 72
London Business School 35
Stanford GSB 32
MIT Sloan 31
NYU Stern 12


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Internship-to-Job Conversion Rates Up

Internship ConversionA recent Bloomberg Businessweek article, “MBA Interns Seeking Job Offers Breathe a Sigh of Relief,” talks about the increased success b-school students have had in receiving job offers from their summer internships. BW collected data from 30 top MBA programs in the U.S. Six of these said that they saw no changes in the internship-to-job conversion rate; eight programs said they expected a slight improvement; the remaining programs had no data to offer.

It’s still early, though. Some internships may be planning on extending offers, but just haven’t yet. So these numbers may continue to improve.

Here’s Businessweek’s breakdown of the winners and losers in internship conversion:

The Internship Conversion Winners…

  1. Cornell University Johnson Graduate School of Management – 74%
  2. Dartmouth College Tuck School of Business – 71.5%
  3. Arizona State University Carey School of Business – 68.9%
  4. University of Chicago Booth School of Business – 68.8%
  5. Brigham Young University Marriott School of Management – 68.6%

…And Losers

  1. Thunderbird School of Global Management – 17.3%
  2. Syracuse University Whitman School of Management – 21.4%
  3. North Carolina State University Jenkins Graduate School of Management – 21.9%
  4. DePaul University Kellstadt Graduate School of Business – 22.2%
  5. Fordham University Graduate School of Business – 24%

Some more numbers for you:

  • 35% of Minnesota Carlson students have reported job offers from summer internships so far.
  • At Emory Goizueta, that number is at 50%.
  • Notre Dame Mendoza has reported a 60% internship-to-job offer rate, a 5% increase over last year.
  • 40% of students at CMU Tepper have reported internship-to-job offers so far this year.

The article explains: “With big banks slashing head count at a furious pace earlier this year, those numbers could have been a lot worse.” Patrick Perrella, Mendoza’s Director of Career Development adds: “Contrary to popular opinion, there is a lot of strength in MBA hiring.”

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