Employability and business school graduates

Following the results of the 2019 GMAC Corporate Recruiters Survey, which polled more than 1,200 employers in 45 countries worldwide to find out hiring demands for MBA and business master’s graduates, an additional “Employability and Business School Graduates” report was released today.

The report presents trends in applicant skills and preparedness in the rapidly changing labour market, driven by technological innovation.

Graduate management education is a means to candidates’ ultimate goal – employability

According to the survey results, the GME candidates are drawn to GME because they have a reasonable expectation that a graduate business credential will lead to the improved employment outcomes they seek, and to that end employability.

Because of the primacy of employability to candidate choices, it’s essential that business school professionals in a variety of functional areas understand what today’s employers look for in hiring recent business school graduates, how they make their employment decisions, and how they judge business schools on preparing their graduates for success.

Business schools can leverage these insights across several organisational functions, from business school and programme leadership, through admissions and marketing teams, to, naturally, career services.

Top sought-after skills and preparedness evaluation

By a wide margin, problem-solving and working with others are the skills that recruiters say are the most important for the job openings they plan to fill with business school graduates.

Asia Pacific companies tend to rate the importance of data analysis and interpretation skills as more important than companies in Europe and the United States.

Smaller companies tend to rate written communication, managing the self, coachability and reflection, and listening, as more important to their current job openings, whereas larger companies tend to rate the skills of data analysis and interpretation, working with others, and oral communication and presentation as more important.

In evaluating how well prepared recent business school graduates are in the same list of 10 skills, the vast majority of recruiters say graduates are adequately prepared or very well prepared in all of them.

By a slight margin, recruiters give their most favourable review to graduates’ skill preparation for quantitative tasks and oral communication and presentation.

US companies are more likely to rate graduates’ skills in working with others and managing the self higher than companies in Europe and the Asia Pacific. Larger employers (e.g., Fortune Global 100 and companies with 10,000 or more employees) tend to give more favourable evaluations across the 10 skills.

Skills for Job Openings for Recent Business School Graduates

Company culture matters

In making hiring decisions, recruiters tend to place more importance on fit – both with the company culture and the job opening – than on prior direct experience or growth potential. Among the total sample of responding recruiters, 37% rank fit with company culture as their most important hiring decision factor, and 31% say fit with the job opening is most important.

Smaller companies tend to place relatively more weight on fit with the job opening and prior direct experience, whereas larger employers place relatively more weight on fit with the company culture and growth potential. Compared with the Asia Pacific and US employers, European companies tend to put more importance on the growth potential and less on prior direct experience. 

Hiring Decisions Factors

Business school graduates are well prepared to be successful

Nearly 9 in 10 recruiters agree that business school graduates are well prepared to be successful in their company.

Favourable attitudes about business school graduates are observed across company characteristics.

US employers generally have more favourable perspectives than European or Asia Pacific employers, as do larger companies.

By industry, confidence in business school graduates is strongest in the finance/accounting, technology, and health care sectors.


The 2019 Corporate Recruiters Survey, ran by the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) together with survey partners MBA Career Services and Employer Alliance (MBA CSEA), EFMD and Highered, in association with career services offices at 116 participating graduate business schools worldwide.

GMAC Research offers graduate business schools opportunities to gather data and generate insights into the business school pipeline. Schools can sign up to participate in the GMAC Application Trends Survey and Corporate Recruiters Survey on the following survey sign-up page: www.gmac.com/surveysignup