Will the recession chill a job market for ‘scorching’ business graduates?


Even as the global economy heads into recession, the world’s largest cosmetics maker is gearing up to boost youth employment.

L’Oréal For Youth offers a variety of opportunities for people under 30, including jobs, internships and apprenticeships with the French company behind brands such as Lancôme and Kiehl’s. The global program offered 18,000 places last year and L’Oréal is aiming for 25,000 registrations in 2022.

Stefanie Messner, the company’s director of talent acquisition for France, says job applicants have the upper hand in a tight job market. “Graduates are in a very lucky position, because there is a lot more demand for talent than talent, so they can choose their job. It is a candidate driven market rather than an employer driven market.

How long that will last remains unclear, with some major employers announcing hiring freezes or layoffs as the threat of a recession grows. But for business school graduates, there are some reasons for optimism.

Hiring projections remain optimistic, according to a survey conducted in February and March 2022 of 941 companies from 38 countries by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), which organizes entrance tests for business schools. It found that nearly nine in 10 corporate recruiters plan to hire Masters of Management (MiM) graduates in 2022, compared to 79% of the same recruiters who actually hired them last year. Most MiM graduates enter the program right after a first degree and have little or no prior work experience.

To attract top talent, U.S. companies plan to offer higher starting salaries to masters of commerce graduates in 2022 compared to last year, GMAC found. For example, average salaries are up from 2021 levels for graduates of Masters in Finance and Masters in Data Analytics programs, by $15,000 and $10,000 respectively.

Reflecting rapidly rising inflation, GMAC found that educational assistance, such as tuition reimbursement, has become an increasingly common benefit, with 54% of employers offering it in 2022, compared to 35% last year. Additionally, the schools say the companies are offering flexible remote work options to attract young hires, who want to improve their well-being and work-life balance, while having access to networking and mentoring in the office.

Satya Autar, head of employer relations at Erasmus University’s Rotterdam School of Management in the Netherlands, said Masters of Commerce graduates entered a boiling job market this summer that belied the mood growing cautious about the economy. “Students have the power in their hands,” she says.

The top three hiring sectors for the Rotterdam school are consulting, financial services, and information technology, which is broadly consistent with other schools. A recent change has been a growing emphasis on sustainability, as many students turn to goal-oriented careers and some groups eschew, such as fossil fuel companies, whose activities harm the environment. environment or society.

A graduate of HEC Paris, Margot Lebourgeois is now a specialist in sustainable development

“Today more than ever, business students look to companies for their impact, their commitment to the environment and their values,” says Margot Lebourgeois, who graduated from MiM at HEC Paris this summer. She took optional courses focusing on sustainability, which confirmed her interest in responsible business practices. Lebourgeois now works at French spirits manufacturer Pernod Ricard in Paris, as a sustainability and responsibility specialist.

Zoe McLoughlin, executive director of the Career Center at London Business School, says employers value MiM graduates for their business acumen, highly developed soft skills including adaptability and, in a globalized world, their ability to work effectively with teams from diverse backgrounds.

McLoughlin previously recruited for the Boston Consulting Group and says MiM graduates were generally hired at the same level as undergraduates, but were promoted much faster. “They have this extra layer of knowledge, experience and brilliance,” she says.

Even so, with rising recession fears, graduates cannot be complacent, warns Cathy Savage, senior director of the UCD Careers Network at Smurfit Graduate School of Business in Dublin.

“It’s always a competitive process and if you’re not ready for it, you don’t get a job,” Savage says. Although overall job opportunities outstrip supply, she says some applicants have been “ghosted” by potential employers and not heard from after applying.

“Some of the recruiting processes are pretty brutal, you can go through five, six, seven rounds of interviews,” Savage says, adding that students should start planning their applications early and ask alumni for help.

A man and a woman in a restaurant talk to each other
Recruiting graduates can be very demanding, with multiple rounds of interviews ©Getty Images

Some sectors are slowing recruitment, including technology, says Maren Kaus, director of career services at the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management. Amazon, Microsoft, Apple and Alphabet, Google’s parent company, have slowed hiring in some areas in the face of economic headwinds, but only after a hiring spree for the past two years.

For their part, business schools offer a wide range of career services, including coaching, skills development workshops and networking opportunities. Increasingly, they are hosting more virtual recruiting events, as these give students access to a wider range of employers than is possible on campus.

Also, there is a greater focus on lifelong development, as alumni change jobs more frequently amid the ‘big quit’, when Covid has caused many to reassess their priorities. Jean-Amiel Jourdan, senior executive director of careers at HEC Paris, explains that career services are becoming “less transactional”: rather than being the first job after graduation, HEC offers graduates access to career services throughout their working lives.

The school also moved career development from the academic fringe to the core programs, making workshops mandatory instead of optional for all MiM candidates. Ultimately, Jourdan is convinced that such preparation will be very useful to graduates, regardless of economic conditions. “I’m very optimistic despite the possibility of a slowdown,” he said.


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