Industry Insights

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Quantitative Trends: 2008 Part II

May 6, 2008

As it is our goal to keep you informed of what we're seeing in the marketplace today, we thought you might appreciate some insight into the current entry-level space.Is the Job Market Mad For Grads?Although the media has recently reported a robust hiring market for college graduates this spring, it does not address the entry market for our industry, specifically quantitative candidates coming out of master’s degree programs in statistics, economics, and operations research. Here are a few of my observations on the current and upcoming markets for analytical grads. In general, demand from our corporate clients for entry-level candidates has trended down since fourth quarter 2007.There is a growing perception that more experienced candidates are available as a result of the uncertainty hitting some specific industries.As a result, many organizations are attempting to fill open positions with candidates who have some corporate experience, even if it is only one or two years.New Grads Address Specific NeedsEven with current conditions favoring more experienced employees, companies remain sensitive to the continuing need to staff their quantitative groups and assure that the pipeline of trained talent will remain unbroken, especially for critical, hard-to-fill openings.Corporate talent acquisition groups are also busy planning for the wave of Baby Boomers approaching retirement age, and new grads will play a key role in filling this looming void. In uncertain economic times, new grads also help address the all-important issue of staffing costs, as they are typically brought in at much lower salary- and benefit-levels. In addition, new grads often offer “fresher” technical skills than their more experienced colleagues.Flexibility is KeyIf, as predicted, the market continues to soften, graduates on training visas will have a more challenging time this spring. It is important for these individuals to be flexible with geographic requirements and, as always, hone their communication skills, both spoken and written. It has not been my experience that these candidates need to consider lower compensation levels. Although a repeat of the distressing graduate markets of 2001/2002 is unlikely, let’s not lose track of lessons learned. While some organizations will make offers to students months in advance of graduation (many large consulting firms routinely follow this practice), these offers can be rescinded, as they were frequently during the last recession. Soon-to-be graduates need to stay abreast of changing circumstances at their future employers and remain flexible, if necessary.Market Shrinking, But Salaries RisingSo far this year, we have seen the entry market demand for recent analytical grads shrink by 32%.Starting salaries, however, have continued to increase.The average starting base salary for a quantitative master’s graduate for the 12 months ending June 2007 was $57K; that base has since increased to $62K. Even in the uncertainty of today’s economy, the need for strong quantitative talent remains solid. So relax — it’s our job to keep an ear to the market and keep you in the loop. Please get in touch with any specific comments or concerns.Follow Burtch Works on Twitter or LinkedIn to get the best quantitative career news and blog updates delivered right to your news feed, and check out our YouTube channel for access to all our latest salary information and webinars!