MBAs and the Great Resignation
MBAs and the Great Resignation

MBAs and the Great Resignation


MBAs Make Their Comeback

The phenomenon known as the Great Resignation has changed the landscape entirely for job seekers, employees and employers. People have been leaving jobs in overwhelming numbers, thanks to plenty of pandemic-related factors. And that extends not just to the average employee; even managers and higher-level workers are making the decision to jump ship and either try to find a better situation or reevaluate their career altogether.

Despite all of this, there have been reports recently of MBA degrees resulting in higher salaries and better positions out of the gate. This begs the question: What have employees with MBAs been seeing in the job market throughout the Great Resignation? Have employers been working harder to retain them? What have salary increases among people with MBAs actually looked like lately?

We wanted to find all of this out, so we surveyed 200 hiring managers throughout the U.S. and 350 MBA holders across the U.S., Great Britain, and Australia. If you’re interested to see how MBA holders have fared during this turbulent time, read on.

Key Findings

  • 69% of MBA holders had another company attempt to recruit them within the last year.
  • 85% of MBA holders believe their degree helped them negotiate a higher salary.
  • Of MBA holders that changed industries over the last year, 26% left the health care industry.

A Hiring Manager’s Perspective

The labor market has seen significant ups and downs over the last couple of years thanks to the pandemic, and certainly everyone is impacted. Hiring managers have had to readjust their strategy for finding talent, and many are just trying to keep up. Some, however, have referred to the Great Resignation as more of a “reorganization,” with companies shifting things around internally to avoid losing valuable employees to better-paying positions or ones with a more flexible structure. 

When it comes to MBAs and how they’re valued among these hiring managers, we asked 200 hiring managers to weigh in.

the hiring perspective on MBAs

It turns out that hiring managers hold MBAs in fairly high regard, as our study showed that 34% of them were more likely to hire someone with an MBA than someone without one. Considering that an MBA is beneficial to a career in many ways—from gaining practical experience in a specified field of study to having more financial and overall job security—it makes sense that hiring managers view MBAs as a benefit to the hiring process.

This perspective on MBAs seems to spill over into negotiating as well, with 42% of hiring managers saying they were much more willing to negotiate contracts with job candidates who held an MBA.

Getting a Leg Up With an MBA

MBA holders offer great advantages in the business world, especially if they have a specialization. But even general MBAs can set an individual up for a quick transition into a career and offer a more rapid path toward growth opportunities

We’ve already established that hiring managers have a favorable view of MBAs, especially amid the tough labor market of the past two years, but what do MBA holders say about it? Have those with MBAs changed jobs or careers, and if so, what industries have seen the most employees leaving? Read on to see what our respondents thought.

The MBA Advantage

The Great Resignation has certainly had its advantages for MBA holders, as 85% said their degree has helped them negotiate a higher salary. And while 70% said they’ve changed positions over the past year, 75% said they actually received a promotion. This tracks with the value of MBAs over the course of the pandemic, as some MBAs have proven to be especially valuable. 

Interestingly, however, 42% of MBA holders in our survey did say that they changed industries over the past year, with health care being the top sector that respondents reported leaving (26%). This may be due to the strain COVID-19 put on health care workers, as many were working long hours in harsh conditions without any extra compensation. Twenty-three percent of respondents reported leaving the IT industry, and 13% had left financial services.

An Offer You Can’t Refuse

To combat the negative impacts of the Great Resignation, many companies have had to step up their game to attract talent and make their roles more appealing to people who have left their jobs (not to mention retaining the employees who haven’t left). As a result, people in many fields and industries are actually getting better job offers than ever before.

How have MBA holders fared when it comes to getting offers or being recruited elsewhere?

The Year of Job Offers

Notably, 69% of MBA-holding respondents in our study said they’ve had another company try and recruit them over the past year. Poaching is rather common in the job world, especially among those with coveted degrees like MBAs, but it does seem to be happening more frequently in recent years. 

Among respondents who’d been solicited by companies over the past year, 28% said they’d received two offers, on average. Twenty-four percent said they’d had three offers, while 22% reported getting four offers. Interestingly, just 5% of respondents only got a single offer, meaning that the vast majority of MBA holders we surveyed got more than one offer. It’s entirely possible that this is due to companies competing for these talented individuals during the recent labor shortage.

The Many Benefits of an MBA

The primary benefit of an MBA is that it gives you refined business knowledge and expertise that you can’t get from another degree program, while simultaneously training you for a specific industry. But one of the most overlooked aspects of an MBA is that it also sharpens your soft skills and provides you with a host of attributes that can come in handy when launching or even retaining and growing your career. 

MBA Takeaways

Overall, our study showed that MBA holders found their soft skills to be more useful than hard skills in their career. Soft skills are more interpersonal in nature, and can prove to be invaluable when dealing with others.  In addition to soft skills, though, there were certain courses that proved most beneficial to the respondents of our study. Most notable among them was financial management, which 30% of respondents said was the most useful course for their career. Eleven percent said project management was most useful, and 10% said marketing. Considering how crucial financial management is to business in almost every single way, it’s no surprise that respondents of our study felt strongly about the financial courses in which they took part.

Staying or Going?

At the end of 2021, there were certainly signs that the Great Resignation showed no signs of slowing; a significant portion of Americans signaled that they planned to leave their jobs in the next twelve months. This has proven to be a warning to employers, as many have continued to improve in certain areas to make jobs more appealing and to retain employees as much as possible. 

Among MBA holders who participated in our study, how many had their sights set on new roles and why?

The Great MBA Upgrade

An astonishing 32% of MBA holders said they planned on leaving their job in the next six months—showing that it doesn’t matter how good some employers think their staff has it, something better is typically nearby. The primary reason for MBA holders wanting to leave their job is that they wanted to make more money (32%), while 15% said they wanted better benefits, and 14% were looking to advance their skills and professional development. For many employees, seeing the way their employers handled the COVID-19 pandemic, shifting to work from home (and perhaps subsequently moving back to the office) has been a driving factor in looking for something better. 

One thing is clear from the sentiments around MBA holders leaving their jobs: Employers need to do more to retain them. One 34-year-old midlevel respondent said that companies can do simple things like offering better salaries and benefits in order to keep people around.

What Comes Next?

Getting an MBA at VU Online is a serious investment that people make with the specific intention of advancing their business career in a more fast-paced and beneficial way than through lower-level degrees. Our study certainly showed that while MBA holders have an advantage over other employees, especially when it comes to salaries and job offers, many still felt that there are better options out there than their current situation and were strongly considering a great resignation of their own. With that in mind, employers will certainly continue to step up their game to try and attract and retain the best employees amid this ever-changing job market.

Navigating your career with an MBA can seem like a gargantuan task, especially when you’re new to an industry and especially during this unprecedented time. At Victoria University, we take the unknown away to develop career-relevant education solutions that make sense with your life and your path forward. 

Methodology and Limitations

For this study, we surveyed 350 MBA holders in the U.S., Great Britain, and Australia, as well as 200 hiring managers throughout the U.S. The MBA holders were surveyed via the Prolific platform, and the hiring managers were surveyed via the Pollfish platform. This study has a +/-5% margin of error on a 95% confidence level for MBA holders and a +/-7% margin of error for hiring managers. In some cases, questions and answers have been paraphrased or rephrased for clarity. The data rely on self-reporting, and potential issues with self-reported data include, but are not limited to, selective memory, telescoping, and exaggeration.

Fair Use Statement

If you’re an MBA holder or just someone who enjoyed our study, you’re welcome to share it. All we ask is that you link back to the findings and that your purposes are noncommercial.