(originally posted via LinkedIn, April 9, 2020)
In my previous article, I outlined how MBA students can navigate their career during the Corona pandemic.
I wanted to follow-up and provide a more detailed insight into the current job market for MBA students in Germany in particular. As mentioned previously, there are some industries and companies that suffer whilst others are benefitting from this crisis. I derive my analysis from recent studies and my own interviews with recruiters who are hiring our MBA students and with industry experts.
“Economy in shock” doesn’t mean that MBA students should be in shock.
For job seekers, the current news doesn’t sound very promising: The recently published Joint Economic Forecast report for Germany is titled “Economy in shock”. The leading economic research institutes predict that the coronavirus pandemic is triggering a severe recession in Germany. These institutes expect that economic output will shrink by 4.2 percent this year, with an unemployment rate of 5.9 percent. However, for the next year, they are forecasting a recovery with a growth of 5.8 percent due to Germany’s favorable financial situation, in which the government can afford to implement far-reaching measures to cushion the short-term negative consequences for companies and private households.
If the predictions hold true, the economic outlook and job market for MBA graduates for next year looks quite positive and even these days, there are job opportunities arising in specific companies and industries.
Companies are still searching for talent and as such, MBA students shouldn’t be in shock and abandon their job search but rather be proactive, keep a positive outlook and continue networking and applying for positions! Opportunities in the German job market DO exist!
Which industries are hiring?
A recent study on “Recruiting in times of Corona” conducted by the Institute for Competitive Recruiting (ICR) amongst over 500 recruiters in the German-speaking region shows that whilst around 60% of recruiters assume that recruiting activities in general will slow down during the crisis, 10% of recruiters predict an anti-cyclical development. They expect that recruiting will be expanded, particularly in those industries and companies which will be less hit by the economic crisis. According to this study, the recruiters in the following industries wanted to increase their recruiting activities: IT, Consulting, Electronics/Mechanics, Public Sector, Healthcare.
According to a study by job platform Jobteaser, based on 250 corporate participants, the following industries are continuing to hire: IT, Healthcare, Wholesale and Transport & Logistics. Almost half of the respondents stated that they have continued to hire since the beginning of the crisis, however, only for some job roles, 31% responded that they stopped or delayed hiring, 23% stated that they continued hiring for all job roles and 3% even increased their hiring.
In my interviews with our corporate partners, I learned that the industries that are still hiring are Technology/IT, Consumer Goods, Healthcare/Pharma, and some Consultancies.
This means that MBA students should research these industries in particular, by following the industry news, identify industry experts on social media and read and comment their articles, and read industry research and trend reports (Vault is a great resource).
Which companies are hiring?
A recent study by career platform Karriere.de shows that amongst the DAX-30 companies (the 30 major German companies trading on the Frankfurt stock exchange), 40% of them are searching for talent despite the current crisis. Amongst the companies which are currently recruiting are Adidas, Allianz, Beiersdorf, Covestro, Deutsche Post/DHL Group, Deutsche Telekom, Henkel, Infineon, Merck and Siemens. 30% of the companies can’t reply in the current situation and the remaining companies aren’t hiring at this moment due to various reasons. Some of the reasons for the hiring freezes are restructuring efforts due to M&A activities and uncertainty regarding budgets. In general, large corporates which are financially stable seem to continue to hire for strategically relevant positions and for expert positions.
Based on my interviews and research, many medium-sized companies are focusing on ensuring liquidity and financial stability and are thus quite cautious at the moment. They concentrate on maintaining budget for current projects rather than initiating new ones. “Fancy” projects such as innovation projects are put on a hold. The debate is open whether they will be investing in digitalization projects after the crisis and whether this will be done via recruiting in-house or opting for external consultants. As such, for most, hiring is halted for the moment or delayed.
The situation for start-up varies. Depending on the industry, the business model and finances, they seem to hire, delay hiring or stop hiring. You can check out their profile on Crunchbase, where you can find information on rounds of funding, acquisitions, recent hires, and relevant press coverage.
Make a list of companies which are likely to be hiring and go directly to their website to find job openings or inquire by phone whether they are accepting applications. Try to identify contacts/alumni in these companies and connect with them to learn more about the company situation, the company culture and gain as much insights as possible which will help you to prepare your application documents.
Which skillsets are in demand?
According to the data provided by Karriere.de, companies are particularly looking for IT skills, preferably industry-related IT skills. Data and business analysts, software developers, Internet of Things (Iot) and security experts are in particular demand. In addition, an agile mindset, creativity and start-up experience are very much sought-after. In my interviews with recruiters, excellent analytical skills, finance skills and experience with M&A processes were mentioned in addition to the above.
Most of the MBA students are “T-shaped persons”: The vertical bar on the letter T means that they have expertise in a specific function. The horizontal bar of the letter T represents that they can collaborate with experts from other areas. They learn this while gaining general management knowledge during their MBA and working on group projects with peers from different disciplines.
MBA students with their excellent analytical skills, sound financial understanding, business acumen and people skills will have chances on the German job market. Those with an IT background, experience in M&A activities and operations/supply chain even more so! This means that you should assess your skillset, leverage on your past experiences, identify what makes you unique and valuable for the company you are applying for.
In summary, whilst the economy is currently in shock, you as MBA students shouldn’t be in shock. Now is the time to be pro-active, to actively connect, network and apply for jobs! There is a time after Corona and you want to be future-ready. As the roman philosopher Seneca said: “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”