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Many 2023 MBAs Are Still Looking For Work

S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
Jan 16, 2024

Job listings - GettyImages-843533330

Numerous 2023 MBA graduates, even those from top schools, are still looking for work, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Much of this situation is due to slowdowns in hiring for well-paid white collar positions, particularly in sectors such as consulting, technology and finance. Openings in fields such as in software development, marketing and banking have also declined.

The number of 2023 MBAs without jobs three months after graduation has roughly doubled from a couple of years ago, according to data from schools such as Harvard Business School (20 percent, up from 8 percent in 2021), Stanford’s Graduate School of Business (18 percent, up from 9 percent in 2021) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management (13 percent, up from 5 percent in 2021).

Students who chose business school in order to change careers appear to be having the toughest time. Employers are hiring more selectively, opting for candidates with relevant experience over new graduates, according to alumni and career coaches. 

One, 32-year-old, AJ Edelman, decided to pursue a Yale MBA to transition from skeleton-racing to a management role in technology. Hundreds of applications later, he is still looking. “I had no idea, a year later, I’d still be searching for full-time employment,” he told the Journal.

Abigail Kies, who leads the Yale School of Management’s career center, told the Journal that companies usually are willing to take a chance on MBA graduates because of their adaptability, even if they have little experience in the field, but not this year. “The choices employers were making were more based on history and experience than has usually been the case for MBAs being hired,” she said.

A spokesman for Harvard Business School told the Journal that some students without jobs had received offers, but were waiting for the right role.

At Sloan, which recently started a group for job-seeking graduates, those who were more flexible about location, function or industry have found success, Susan Brennan, its assistant dean of career development, told the Journal. 

Brittany Tyree, who leads career education and coaching for MBAs at the University of Texas’s McCombs School of Business, agreed, told the Journal that 2023 graduates are taking jobs in a broader range of industries than usual. While hiring in technology has slowed, companies in consumer products, retail and manufacturing are hiring more graduates than in previous years, she said.

Those who are getting jobs are getting rewarded. Median starting salaries for Stanford MBA graduates rose to $182,500, from $175,000 the year before. At other schools, the median salaries  climbed to $175,000. Bonuses add to that total compensation.

Jenna Starr, 30, started searching for a job in sustainability before graduating from Yale with her MBA in May, applying for more than 100 openings since then, including in her former field, nonprofit fundraising.

She was recently offered a job as a sustainability analyst at a health care company, and she plans to accept. Now that the job search is over, she told the Journal, “I’m OK that it took eight months to get here.”