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Recent years have been hard on job seekers across a wide spectrum, and recent business school graduates have been no exception to this. The state of the global economy and the resulting shortage of executive job opportunities have led to countless examples of highly educated executives working in roles beneath their qualifications or experience level, or in many cases worse, with business school graduates being unable to find employment of any kind.

However, there are encouraging signs for those graduating in 2011, and indications that the job market they are emerging into will be kinder to them than it was to those who graduated in the years preceding them.

At the bachelor level, after remaining unchanged in 2010, hiring of new college graduates grew 10 percent in 2011. It has been suggested by Philip Gardner, director of research at Michigan State University’s Collegiate Employment Research Institute (CERI), that this may have come at the expense of those graduates from earlier years. From Gardner’s research, companies have opted to hire for entry-level jobs those who have just graduated, rather than graduates from previous years who are still seeking a suitable opportunity.

Other estimates, however, show an increase in the creation of new jobs for college graduates across the board, and in many cases the extra couple of years that have passed since graduation have allowed candidates to gain experience and skills in new areas they might not have previously considered, including from voluntary work or extra educational courses taken.

According to the AESC executive recruitment statistics for 2011, executive search assignments have risen between 7-8% compared to the first half of 2010.

Sophia Koropeckyj, an economist with Moody’s Analytics in West Chester says: “There is ample evidence that college graduates are doing better than high school graduates, better than those who have an associates degree and better than those who haven’t completed high school.” The same goes for business school graduates; having additional educational qualifications provides executives with a great advantage over the competition, especially when graduating from top schools.

The results of a recent study by the Labor Department in the United States offers a further boost to graduates, regardless of their year of graduation -  the study found that unemployment amongst those over 25 with a bachelors degree was at 4.3% in July 2011, compared with a national average figure of 9.1%.

The effects of the recession are clearly still being felt, and many full-time business school graduates will find it hard to shake the feeling that they are leaving University at a less than opportune moment. However, evidence suggests that regardless of the climate, further education is still an invaluable asset in the search for employment.

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This article was written by Chris Storey, Marketing Assistant at the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC).

BlueSteps is the exclusive service of the AESC that puts senior executives on the radar screen of over 8,000 executive search professionals in 74 countries. Be visible, and be considered for up to 75,000 opportunities handled by AESC search firms every year. Find out more at www.BlueSteps.com 

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