Employment prospects for an MBA graduate.

A few months ago I was relatively optimistic that the jobs market in Australia was adequately insulated from the economic turmoil in the US and the UK.  This unfortunately appears not to be the case, for a job seeker the financial press makes for depressing reading.  There appear to be two approaches taken by employers in the current market, either forced redundancies due to the loss of projects or the inability of clients to pay for already completed work, this has been apparent in the property market with architecture firms and construction firms facing a pipeline of work that has disappeared.  As staff are generally hired for specific projects, when a project is shelved, the staff assigned to that specific project are let go too.  Other employers are adopting the “wait and see” approach, waiting until they see whether the economy either continues to decline,  or the various stimulus packages start to have a positive effect, this is when they will start to consider hiring again.

Faced with this gloomy outlook, in complete contrast to the MBA graduates of 2008, the current class is faced with a number of options.

  • Continue to study – not appealing when they have already racked up large debts as a result of studying an MBA, but better than doing nothing.
  • Market themselves as a freelance consultant, looking for work on a contract basis, this will generally have to be in an industry similar to their pre-MBA.  Spending on external contractors increases as prolonged “permanent headcount freezes” are maintained.  As with the consulting firms, the focus of assignments has shifted from profit maximisation or new market entry to cost reduction or process improvement.
  • Take a more entrepreneurial approach and work with fellow students to identify and establish a new venture. Whilst this might not generate an immediate cash flow, by the time the research and planning stage has been completed credit is likely to be more readily available.
  • Look at overseas opportunities – consider countries that will benefit from continued infrastructure investment from the likes of the World Bank or Ausaid, i.e Vietnam
  • Consider opportunities in the public sector – reading the AFR, the number of government jobs advertised appears to be increasing, this could just be in contrast to the declining number of private sector jobs.
  • Study at PhD – focussing on an area that is in vogue with businesses leaders will help in securing work post study.

Over the past few weeks I have been speaking to many MBS Alumni, there are opportunities available, however, identifying them involves a lot more research than just using the online job boards on a daily basis. Tools such as Linkedin  make the search process much easier. Not only will this focus on building a network pay dividends in the short term,  a mutually beneficial network, that is proactively maintained will improve career prospects in the long term.

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3 Responses to “Employment prospects for an MBA graduate.”

  1. Ed, do you feel that studying a PhD would limit future job opportunities outside the academic world? In Australia, tall poppy syndrome tends to get worse with further education – its hard enough putting up with the “oh you have a MBA, you think you know everything!” comments, let alone becoming Dr Katie…

  2. Hi Katie,

    I think you would need to identify an organisation that employs PhDs, I don’t think it would limit job opportunities, but the majority of hiring managers wouldn’t really understand what a PhD is. It might be worth trying to identify people who have completed a similar PhD and finding out where they are working now.

    Cheers,

    Ed

  3. The only value in obtaining a PhD in Australia would be to work in academia. There are very few organisations, beyond governmental or research-based organisations that will employ PhDs. In Europe or the US such a qualification may make you more marketable within certain sectors and organisations.

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