Spotlight for Recruiting Professionals, April 25, 2012
A recent report from the M.B.A. Career Services Council (MBA CSC) shows that on-campus recruiting activity for M.B.A.s is up compared to last year.
“Overall, the M.B.A. job market continues to steadily improve from year to year,” says Megan Hendricks, executive director, MBA CSC. “Full-time job postings continue to increase for most schools, and increases were seen in most industries.”
Competition for top M.B.A. talent has increased as well, says Shane Sugino, associate director of the career management center at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
“We're finding employers that were able to attract top talent during the recession are having difficulty getting their attention now,” he notes. “Employers need to understand the strength of their brand image on campus in order to create an effective recruiting strategy and to set realistic talent acquisition goals and metrics.”
Michelle Chevalier, director of the graduate business career center at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota, has seen firsthand the positive effects of the improving job market for M.B.A.s.
“This spring, we've seen first-years with four or five offers,” she says. “We've also seen companies make five offers and come up empty-handed. The pendulum seems to be swinging back to where the student is a bit more in the driver's seat. Companies need to recognize this and start early to connect with their target students.”
Employers also should align their recruiting expectations with their brand image on-campus and status in the M.B.A. marketplace, Sugino says.
“I have heard plenty of companies say that because they are ‘so-and-so,’ all M.B.A. students on campus should be interested in them,” he says. “It doesn't work that way.”
Sugino points out that M.B.A. students have a lot of choices for potential employers.
“Employers have to have realistic expectations that are congruent with their overall brand image, their recruiting strategy and budget, and the opportunities they are offering," he says.
Chevalier says employers should work to find new ways to build their on-campus brands. For example, she suggests that a cereal manufacturer could host a “meet and greet” or company information session in the morning and serve its products for breakfast.
“Or, a company in the services industry, where it's harder to bring a product to life, could come up with a mini-case students can do during an information session to help students begin to build a strong connection to the company,” she continues.
Sugino touts the importance of employers being proactive in their marketing and using a customized individual student outreach approach.
“M.B.A. students like to see companies making serious efforts to try to connect with them,” he says. “Rather than blasting out a generic e-mail to the entire student body, a more effective method would be to buy the school's resume book, find a number of students who [seem like good matches], and send them a personalized outreach communication. It might seem elementary, but it goes a long way with students.”