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The Health of the Job Market for Business Graduates

Examining the Job Market for 2018 Business Graduates

Graduation is a time of optimism, excitement and a sense of accomplishment. When that commencement glow has begun to fade, when the degree is framed and hung on the wall, it is time to turn your attention back to the reason you earned your Master of Business Administration or business master’s in the first place.

It is time to think about your career.

There is good news for those leaving school this year with advanced business degrees. On the other hand, business students who are celebrating a bachelor’s degree this spring might want to consider their options for graduate school.

A pair of surveys published in spring 2018 gave a mixed hiring forecast for new college graduates. The good news for graduates from the Jacksonville University Davis College of Business was that the job market for MBA and business master’s holders remained promising.

Perhaps the most significant finding of the spring came from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) spring update to its Job Outlook 2018 report issued in November 2017.

In the spring update, the NACE reported that employers expected to hire 1.3% fewer new graduates in 2018. This was a significant drop from the 4.0% hiring increase employers had estimated as recently as November, and the first reported drop in anticipated hiring since a 7% decrease in 2010.

While the NACE projection of a 1.3% year-to-year hiring decrease applies to bachelor’s degree winners, there was more promising MBA and business master’s data revealed in a survey conducted by the Collegiate Employment Research Institute (CERI) at Michigan State.

The CERI Recruiting Trends 2017-18 report surveyed 3,370 employers about their anticipated recruiting practices for the next year. The survey showed that 298 of the companies surveyed expected to add an average of 6.1 MBA holders to their staffs, a 30% increase on the 2016-17 fiscal year.

In addition, 531 of the companies surveyed expected to hire master’s degree holders, a 10% increase on 2016-17.

How to reconcile the good news, bad news outlook reflected by these two major recruitment surveys? The NACE authors explained the downward revision from fall to spring by pointing out that two industry sectors – insurance and retail – experienced major downward projections, which had a significant effect on the overall hiring projections for the Class of 2018.

On the insurance side, employers expect to reduce new hires by 42% because of natural disasters, such as major hurricanes, floods and wildfires, which affected the bottom line across the industry. Employers in the retail sector expected to reduce new hires in 2018 by 33%, a result related to the growth of e-commerce.

Despite the falloff in the insurance and retail industries, business school graduates remain in demand across all sectors. In April 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) issued its annual update of occupations with the most projected job growth between 2016 and 2026.

The top 30 such occupations included several jobs that traditionally have gone to business school graduates. These include:

  • Accountants and auditors
  • Market research analysts and marketing specialists
  • Management analysts
  • Financial managers
  • Business operations specialists

New business school graduates can look for information that might shed light on the job market through their personal networks, online job boards such as LinkedIn and Indeed, job placement services, executive recruiters and popular online publications such as Business Insider, Inc., Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, the Economist and others.

Business Insider annually publishes top 50 lists ranking occupations based on factors such as job satisfaction, position availability and salary. The 2018 list was topped for the third consecutive year by data scientist.

Other positions ranked by Business Insider fall into the traditional realm of business school graduates. These include:

  • Marketing manager (No. 3 overall)
  • Human resources manager (No. 5)
  • Strategy manager (No. 7)
  • Product manager (No. 9)
  • Compliance manager (No. 11)
  • Finance manager (No. 12)
  • Risk manager (No. 13)
  • Business development manager (No. 14)
  • Analytics manager (No. 18)
  • Tax manager (No. 19)
  • Corporate recruiter (No. 23)
  • Quality assurance manager (No. 24)
  • Solutions architect (No. 30)
  • Operations manager (No. 34)

The NACE also conducts salary and compensation surveys, and this year’s top-paying job for new business graduates is management consulting. This position also is known as a management analyst, and the BLS reported that the median salary for this occupation was $82,450 in 2017.

Related Reading:

Market Research Analyst Job Description and Salary

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