It really does pay to change jobs

MBA graduates who looked for better-paid jobs during the recent economic downturn were successful, according to a survey* conducted by the Financial Times. The data suggest that in a recession, the MBA proves its worth.

Data gathered this month from alumni of business schools across the globe from the graduating class of 2007 show that more than half had changed companies. The biggest salaries were earned by those who had changed employers just once: their average salary three years after graduation was $135,600 (based on PPP equivalents). This compared with an average of $131,000 for all survey respondents while those remaining with the same company earned $134,000.

Serial job hunters fared worst. Alumni who had worked for at least three companies since graduation were the lowest earners, reporting an average salary of $106,300.

More than 1,400 MBAs completed the online survey, which examined perceptions of career progress after graduation.

Those loyal to one employer were rewarded too: 84 per cent of those who had worked with just one company had been promoted at least once, with two in five promoted twice or more.

Nick Dunnett, a director at Robert Walters, the recruitment consultancy, says employers are increasingly able to keep hold of talent, through a mixture of remuneration and promotion. “Even following the recent bonus round, there were fewer candidates for new financial jobs than we might have expected to see,” he says.

Even though they graduated into a strong job market, however, many of the class of 2007 felt the financial crisis had held them back over the past four years. When asked to describe the impact of the downturn on their professional growth, 43 per cent reported a negative effect.

There were differences in sentiment by country. Those in the UK were most likely to feel the brunt –52 per cent of these alumni said the recession had harmed their career. Alumni in the US (47 per cent) and Spain (46 per cent) were also likely to report a negative impact. Alumni in Germany were more upbeat, with just one in five saying the downturn was bad for their career.

The differences between countries also highlight the sector mix of alumni. For example, the most common source of employment for respondents in the UK – 36 per cent – was the financial sector. Unsurprisingly half the alumni in this sector said the downturn had a negative impact on their career, higher than in any other industry.

Data supplied to the FT by business schools taking part in the annual FT Global MBA ranking reveal that the class of 2007 enjoyed the highest rate of employment after graduation in recent times.

In 2005, 87 per cent of recent graduates had found a job within three months of graduation. By 2007 this had risen to 90 per cent, before dropping considerably in 2009 (79 per cent), when the unfolding financial crisis started to have an impact.

The latest available data, collected in September 2010, points to a rejuvenation in MBA recruitment. Schools reported that 84 per cent of graduates secured a job within three months last year, but data for this year look set to be considerably better .

*The online survey was conducted over two weeks in June 2011. One-third of the 4,200 alumni surveyed, responded

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