Job Prospects Improve for M.B.A. Students

more recruiters are looking to hire newly minted m.b.a.s this spring, building on gains made with last year's graduating class.

overall, 79% of companies plan to hire m.b.a.s from the class of 2012, according to a graduate management admission council survey of more than 800 companies world-wide, released monday. it is up from 72% last year and well above the 50% recorded in 2009.

while hiring prospects for graduate business students are stronger across the board, the rate of growth is uneven as the technology and energy sectors far outpace financial services and even consulting.

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percentage of job seekers with a job offer (full-time, two-year m.b.a.s), as of mid-march

2012: 64%*

2011: 57%

2010: 40%

2009: 50%

2008: 62%

percentage of companies that hired or plan to hire new m.b.a. employees

2012: 79%*

2011: 72%

2010: 62%

2009: 50%

2008: 59%

*2012 represents planned hires

source: graduate management admission council

with new investments pouring into silicon valley, fast-expanding technology firms are particularly keen to beef up their m.b.a. ranks. the number of tech companies planning to hire is up 22% over last year, according to gmac. in particular demand are students with quantitative skills who can analyze user data and apply it to strategic expansion and marketing plans.

mobile-game company zynga inc.,znga +3.45% which nearly doubled the number of its employees in the past year, boosted m.b.a. hiring by about 25% this year. that company has secured 24 new product-management and business-development hires so far, and expects to hit 30 by next month.

among the new recruits are seven from harvard business school, with more hbs offers still pending. zynga, based in san francisco, also tapped four full-time hires and an intern from university of california at berkeley's haas school of business. in all, the company focuses its m.b.a. recruiting at eight schools.

as competition for talent heats up, students are securing job offers earlier in the school year. a related gmac survey found that 64% of students in full-time, two-year m.b.a. programs in the u.s. had job offers by mid-march, compared with 57% a year earlier and 40% in 2010.

northwestern university's kellogg graduate school of management is pacing slightly ahead of last year, with 75% to 80% of m.b.a. students securing a job by mid-may. that compares with figures slightly below 70% during the depths of the financial crisis, said michael malone, managing director of the career management center.

the massachusetts institute of technology's sloan school management is also seeing a small uptick. roughly 87% of job-seeking students had jobs as of graduation last year, but now—a few weeks before graduation—the school has already hit that mark.

but not all industries are so hungry for new hires.

financial-services companies have taken a "wait and see" approach, said scott rostan, founder of training the street inc., which provides financial-training courses for new hires for wall street firms. "they're not really sure where market activity is going, so they don't want to be staffing up in anticipation of it."

according to the gmac survey, the number of financial-services firms planning to hire m.b.a.s is up slightly—2%—this year.

m.b.a. hiring at goldman sachs group inc. gs +0.52% is "basically flat" compared with last year, said sandra hurse, global co-head of campus recruiting.

pittsburgh-based bank pnc financial services group inc. pnc -0.36% hired about 20 m.b.a. interns for this summer, mainly in capital markets and internal consulting roles, on par with the past two years. nearly 90% of them are expected to take full-time job offers at the bank after graduation.

"are we cautious? yes, i think we'll always be cautious," said kristi milczarczyk, pnc's senior recruiting manager for campus recruiting.

still, pnc is casting a wider net for that talent this year, recruiting at seven to 10 schools, compared with as few as three in 2010.


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