MBA Recruiting - How it works
After speaking with a number of MBA students recently who have struggled to grasp the mechanics of the MBA recruitment market I thought I would pen a piece outlining my view on how things work. As a jobseeker it is vitally important that you understand how a process operates so that you can position yourself accordingly, hopefully this article can help.
Generally how MBAs are recruited into an organisation can be split between 2 main types of corporate hiring activity, Programme hiring or an Ad-Hoc approach.
This is the typical expectation for many students when beginning an MBA, that by the end of their course they will be hired onto a big branded MBA Recruitment Programme. These programmes generally consist of a structured 2-3 year rotational tenure within an organisation, exposing the participant to a wide area of different functional activities before being placed in a relatively senior permanent position at the end of the rotation. The corporate rationale and thinking for these initiatives is driven by the belief that in exposing new starters to many aspects of the business they will be better equipped to make more holistic corporate decisions later in their career and be ideally suited for senior management positions. Examples: Amex, BT, Shell, Microsoft, Barclays
Other MBA programmes are not rotational in nature but hire into specific functional niches such as Marketing or Finance, this type of process is usually delivered around a structured training, development & support programme which lasts 2-3 years with the objective again of fast-tracking senior leaders through and up the business. Examples, I-Banks, Consulting Firms, JnJ, DHL, P&G, L’Oreal, WPP, Astra Zeneca
MBA Programmes share a lot in common with numerous High Potential Programmes and in fact many organisations seek out MBAs as ideal candidates to be part of this process. High Potential Programmes often operate in a similar way to a rotational programme however their intake is not restricted solely to MBA graduates. Examples: Prudential, BT – FTLP
You must be aware that Programme Hiring has fit with a certain profile of individual, candidates are typically aged under 30, still building a career, have the ability to be flexible geographically and tend to be motivated by building a corporate career. In Europe this profile is most strongly correlated with Full Time MBAs, a large proportion of which fit into this category. In the United States the correlation with Full Time MBA’s is even stronger, not surprising if you consider that many of the corporate programmes evolved from and have their foundations in the USA.
The other type of hiring we see in the MBA market is of an ad-hoc nature, here organisations do not typically recruit MBAs in large volumes but hire according to organisational need at a given moment in time. These companies hire around demonstrable experience and skill-sets and are very specific with their requirements. Examples: Pepsico, Apple, Amazon, SME’s
The approach is akin to more general senior level recruitment with MBA engagement forming one part of a portfolio of candidate acquisition channels. Due to the nature of experience based hiring it has a correlation with all student populations however is particularly powerful for, older Full Time, Distance Learning & Executive MBAs and Alumni given their added maturity and experience which often deems them unsuitable for many MBA hiring programmes.
In my experience a larger proportion of European MBAs tend to get hired via the Ad-Hoc route, this is mainly driven by the fact that student profiles here in Europe tend to be more mature. The important thing to remember is that the approach methods for gaining a job can differ considerably between these 2 routes and you must have a carefully designed strategy for each. By understanding your fit, your aspirations and the most effective route to yield results you can apply your energies strategically.
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