With B-schools hosting more MBA recruiters, and the Internet allowing hundreds of companies to post news of job openings, it may come as a surprise that headhunters continue to enter the fray. The newest hopeful on the scene is FutureStep, which has teamed up with a name MBAs know well: the Graduate Management Admissions Council, the nonprofit company that runs the GMAT admission exam all B-school applicants must take.
The relationship gives FutureStep, a subsidiary of executive-placement firm Korn/Ferry, direct access to more than 100,000 hopeful MBAs, who will be asked to register with FutureStep when they sign up for the GMAT.
It costs nothing for prospective MBAs to register, takes about an hour to fill out the forms, and adds their names to FutureStep's 800,000-person database. The company, which has placed about 4,000 job-seekers during its current fiscal year, concentrates on filling slots that pay between $75,000 and $170,000 with companies involved in advanced technology and financial services.
FutureStep keeps candidates on file indefinitely, meaning that one of its recruiters could be approaching a former student with a job offer a decade from now. The company also offers job and personality testing to help prospective MBAs find positions likely to suit their interests and talents.
"These are the right kinds of people that every [company] is targeting for the positions they need to fill," says Jeffrey Rosin, managing director of FutureStep in North America, who adds that ensuring a steady flow of job candidates is vital to his company's future. Among GMAC officials, the deal with FutureStep -- which will produce a small stream of referral fees -- is seen as a means of encouraging companies to seek out MBA students, which they believe will raise the degree's market value.
GMAC's project manager for the deal, Donna Lau Smith, believes the relationship should be particularly helpful for programs that aren't ranked "among the top 25 schools, or even beyond that." The referral fees won't cover marketing expenses for a number of years, says GMAC's CEO David Wilson, who adds that any effort that helps MBAs from any of the GMAC-affiliated B-schools around the world -- about 300 in all -- to land jobs at graduation can only enhance the degree's reputation abroad.
But not everyone sees a need for the service. At the University of Wisconsin's Madison business school, ranked in the second tier of B-schools by BusinessWeek's 2000 survey, the reaction to FutureStep's entry into the field has been lukewarm. "I've publicized [FutureStep] to students, but in all honesty, the students are being a bit bombarded," says Karen Stauffacher, Madison's assistant dean and director of the college's Business Career Center. Companies in the market for talent, recruiting firms, and Stauffacher's career center all send weekly e-mails detailing job openings to students.
And that's just the start. WetFeet, a Web site offering recruitment and research services, sends over 1 million of its targeted e-mail CareerWatch newsletters every month. Then there are Monster.com and BrassRing.com, which are but two among dozens of companies actively soliciting MBAs for nationwide job databases. "Only 30% of the students signed up for BrassRing," notes Stauffacher. Add on-campus job postings to the equation and, as she puts it: "There's no reason a student can't find a job."
WE'll CALL YOU.
At Emory's Goizueta School of Business, ranked No. 28 among U.S. schools by BusinessWeek in 2000, FutureStep doesn't get much promotion on campus. Nor would there seem to be much need for the company's services, given the job offerings that are posted online and the 120 companies that send their scouts every year to interview the schools' 200 graduates. Nancy Ortman, director of the MBA Career Management Center at Goizueta does see at least one good thing about FutureStep: The company e-mails students only when it has matched them with a company. "That's a handy feature," she notes with approval.
Whatever the initial attraction, FutureStep admits it will have to do a lot of work to get MBAs, alumni, and others to keep their information up-to-date. If the company can surmount that hurdle while managing to increase placements and bolster its on-campus credibility, it may well find some long-term potential in the relationship with GMAC.
Mica Schneider in New York