Recent graduates can look forward to an improved job market in 2013 despite sustained economic uncertainty, according to a just-released employer survey published by the Graduate Management Admission Council, or GMAC.
While masters-level and business graduates were poised to see the biggest gains in hiring, the labour market for bachelor degree holders remained steady.
The projections are based on a year-end survey of 201 employers from 182 companies globally, including 45 Fortune 500 companies.
Seventy-six percent of employers planned to hire new MBAs in 2013, up seven points from the number of 2012 MBA graduates they hired. Other business-related postgraduate level candidates are also expected to be in demand.
Surveyed employers planned to hire masters of management, accounting and finance graduates in significantly greater numbers than last year.
Seventy-eight percent of employers planned to higher new bachelor degree graduates.
While prospects appear to be improving, United States-based GMAC cautioned that the job market would continue to be competitive and work experience, including co-ops and internships, was a crucial qualification.
“There is a high level of competition on the job market for graduates,” said Rebecca Estrada, author of the survey. “The experienced specialists and managers are in higher demand.”
Employers reported that they sought applicants with the ability to integrate information from various sources and use that information to solve problems, according to Estrada.
A European manufacturing employer elaborated in comments submitted with the survey, saying that the competencies needed include leadership skills, being action oriented, dealing with ambiguity and having strategic agility.”
An American government employer highlighted analytical and communication skills as being essential.
Companies also planned to offer internships to undergraduate and MBA student in larger numbers. Overall, 85%t of employers surveyed planned to hire interns, and 20% planned to offer more internships than in 2012.
Michelle Chevalier, director of the Graduate Business Career Center at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, said the job market for MBAs would always be competitive.
“We're seeing more and more students from top-10 ranked schools going up against our students for positions at Twin Cities-based companies like Target, General Mills, Medtronic, and others,” she wrote in an email. “The competition is tough, and students need to be better prepared than ever.”
“Leadership and critical thinking come up over and over again when we talk to recruiters. It's important for students to find ways to demonstrate their competencies in both of these areas,” Chevalier said.
“In addition, everyone wants good communicators. If students are less experienced in any of these areas, it's important to use their time as students to close the gaps.”
Most employers who planned to hire new talent in 2012, as reported in last year’s GMAC survey, did so, said Estrada. When GMAC compared 2012 projections to actual hiring data they found that 93% of employers who planned to hire recent graduates in 2012 followed through.
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