Recruiting For MBAs: The New Normal Looks A Lot Like The Old Normal

Posted by Albers School of Business and Economics on Tuesday, January 18, 2022 at 9:16 PM PST

Two people shaking hands

It’s become abundantly clear that COVID-19 has redefined the way we do business, with the sweeping changes to the world of business and to the economy caused by this pandemic already quite obvious. And for all these long-term impacts and implications, one particular learning stands out: you never know what to expect.

For many business leaders around the world, the current and future states are still filled with uncertainty.

Forecasts were upset, roadmaps were derailed, and growth strategies stalled as companies looked to simply survive as, for the better part of the last two years, the COVID-19 pandemic rewrote the script.

It appears the tides are turning, however.

As organizations continue to recover from the pandemic and rebuild their workforces, they will need talent with relevant knowledge and skills.

According to the newest Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) Corporate Recruiters Survey, both demand and compensation for MBA talent will return to pre-pandemic levels in the coming year.

Released June 2021, the research surveyed over 500 employers of MBAs across industries (including technology, finance, accounting, and consulting) and across the world to evaluate the status of the job market for business school graduates.

And now that competitive differentiation emerges from digital transformation, nimble adaptation, and a progressively more tech-savvy C-suite, recruiters posit that hiring the right MBA talent in key leadership positions is vital to growth and a company’s ability to compete and create value in the marketplace (even more important during changing, tumultuous times).

Basically, as we look to stabilize and equip ourselves to weather the unpredictable, recruiters are ready to bring MBA talent back into their hiring pool. Graduating from programs with new learning models, new environment, new context, today’s MBAs will be sought after specifically for their ability to perform in times of transition and change.

This optimistic outlook about the renewed levels of MBA recruitment means companies are no longer playing defense as the economy rebounds.

Caught In The COVID Crossfires

In early 2020, pre-pandemic, the projected MBA median salary reached an all-time high of $115,000 (which is 75 percent more than the median salary for those with only a bachelor’s degree). Three months into the pandemic, however, that figure declined to $105,000.

But as organizations continue to grapple with economic uncertainty and unprecedented growth roadblocks, many have come to the realization that constantly looking behind will keep them, well, behind. There is a renewed confidence in the skills needed to chart a path forward and progress, skills exhibited by MBA talent. In order to stabilize, companies need those motivated, strategic individuals who are keyed into the latest trends and technologies.

And they can’t afford to wait any longer. Waiting will only result in lagging even further behind the competition. Organizations don’t want to be the last ones looking for talent on their road to recovery, which is why recruiters have a newfound hope for the future of MBA talent demand.

The Return Of The MBA Job Market

As businesses seek to return to normal, so too do hiring habits from the pre-pandemic business world. Businesses are now finally able to pull their scopes back, and invest in long-term strategy once again, including long-term investment in the right talent. Companies need innovative leaders who can quickly pivot and adapt to ever-changing circumstances.

Based on GMAC’s survey, 91 percent of corporate recruiters plan for the demand for business school graduates to increase or remain stable in the next five years, compared to 2020’s original projection of 92 percent, an indicator that graduate management talent is integral to organizational rebuild and growth plans.

And as critical players in this organizational growth and transformation, the salary of MBA graduates for 2021 are expected to return to its pre-pandemic 2020 levels as well.

At $115,000, the median salary of MBA graduates is now 77 percent more than those with a bachelor’s degree ($65,000) and 53 percent higher as compared to those hired directly from industry ($75,000).

And this MBA salary premium is even more pronounced in the “Big Three” industries of hire for business school graduates: consulting, finance, and technology. For example, within the consulting industry, the industry in most demand by MBA students, the median MBA salary is $145,000, twice that of those with undergraduate degrees.

Wall Street Journal survey in November 2021 found that at nine out of 10 universities that offer MBAs, ‘graduates typically made more money two years out of school than they had borrowed’. The Journal analyzed federal student loan data to come up with these findings.

Employers place a premium on an MBA’s talent and perspective. The skills they value from business school graduates, including strategic thinking, versatility, and the ability to navigate technological disruption are exactly what are needed right now to continue our road to recovery and resiliency (and to protect the business from other unknowns that may lie ahead). And this confidence in the value of graduate management talent means that these hiring projections and salary trends appear to be relatively steady.

The current stabilization and the reinvigorated recognition of the role that MBAs play in the growth of their organization is excellent news for those looking to invest in an MBA credential, showing that this decision can pay off significantly in the long term, both in terms of salary and in professional advancement.

Albers School Of Business: MBAs To Elevate And Empower

As professionals look to prepare for both the “return to normal” and the “future of work,” Seattle University’s Albers School of Business of Economics is dedicated to opening more doors for their graduates’ careers and ensuring that they stay competitive in today's labor market. Our programs focus on real-time learning and application of that knowledge to hone the adaptability, flexibility, and skill sets that are highly valued during this recovery phase of organizational growth.

And with ​​the pandemic bringing uncertainty to so many facets of life, Albers School offers several MBA programs developed for distinct audiences based on background/experience, flexibility, and desired career path.

  • Bridge MBA: A 12-month, full-time MBA for nonbusiness majors with limited work experience.
  • Professional MBA: A part-time, flexible, evening program for the working professionals looking to enhance their careers.
  • MBA in Sport and Entertainment Management: A two-year program highlighted by an exclusive Fellowship Program with Seattle’s top sport teams and entertainment venues.
  • Online MBA: A part-time, flexible, online program.
  • Executive Leadership MBA: A unique program for senior-level professionals that combines an experiential leadership program with a rigorous MBA curriculum.

If you are ready to take the next steps or would like to request more information, we invite you to visit our site to explore our MBA programs and learn how you can set yourself apart and leverage your MBA for your personal and professional development as we all move forward together.