Hiring Slowdowns Have MBA Grads Scrambling for a Plan B

With economic uncertainty looming over the finance industry, a handful of the most popular firms have cut back their MBA hiring efforts.

(Photo Credit: Joshue Hoehne/Unsplash)
(Photo Credit: Joshue Hoehne/Unsplash)

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What’s the job market for MBAs today? LinkedIn, the world’s largest online professional network, may offer a hint: It’s laying off scores of its own workers.

With economic uncertainty looming over the finance industry, a handful of the most popular firms have cut back their MBA hiring efforts this season after years of gorging on them, The Wall Street Journal reported.

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Blitzscaling — essentially a race for the most growth — made 2021 and 2022 into strong markets for job-seekers, especially for white-collar professionals with MBAs. Not only did tech and finance firms go on hiring sprees, but many offered wage bumps, enticing bonuses, and more attractive 401(k)s. People just starting their careers could confidently negotiate or flat-out decline offers because they knew something better was sure to pop up.

The ride didn’t last long, and most companies found that focusing on growth over profit wasn’t a viable long-term strategy, particularly as the US economy was hit by inflation and high-interest rates from which it has yet to escape. Firms like Ernst & Young, Amazon, KPMG, and more started cutting staff by the thousands.

With the economy still wobbly, those same businesses are collectively saying, “let’s not make the same mistake twice,” meaning the prospects for MBA graduates are much more limited:

  • Spokespeople for both EY and Amazon told the WSJ the companies want a clearer sense of their 2024 business needs before taking in waves of new full-time employees. On the other hand, companies like Boston Consulting Group said their hiring numbers will be in line with previous years.
  • According to Indeed’s Q2 labor market report, job postings for banking & finance and insurance positions have tumbled 45% and 23%, respectively, over the past year. And the layoffs keep piling up. On Monday, LinkedIn announced another round of cuts across its talent, finance, engineering, and product teams, equalling 3% of the company.

What’s Your Backup? Career offices at top MBA schools like Columbia, Berkeley, and Yale are telling students to be patient with hiring and to consider other options in case nothing comes their way next spring. Instead of chasing the big brass ring, prospective graduates are expanding their job search to positions at smaller companies. One Notre Dame student with hopes of being an investment banker at a large firm told the WSJ he’d be OK making a lateral move into corporate finance at a regional lender. You gotta make your six-figure bones somewhere.