How many graduates from the Class of 2011 changed jobs within 18 months after MBA?

In 2011, over 2500 students graduated from the top B schools in India that we cover. We thought we should build some insight into how people do 18 months after graduation i.e. see how many people switch jobs in the first 18 months after graduation.

Rather than doing a survey which would have resulted in uncomfortable questions being asked we decided to rely on a mostly accurate gift called ‘LinkedIn’. There are only two ways data can be corrupted here : 1) Fake Profiles (very easy to weed out)  2) People not updating their profiles on time (nothing much can be done about it)

We went through over 300 randomly selected LinkedIn profiles in detail from the schools in India that we feature.  The sample included the following schools : IIM ABCLIK, XLRI, SPJIMR, FMS and JBIMS. We ensured there was proportionate representation of women and there was proportion in the number of profiles from all the different business schools. The following formula was used to reach the final estimates.


n = the sample size, which, in random sampling, is fixed before the sample is taken, and
f = fraction of the total population sampled.

SE = Standard Error of estimated prevalence

We can indicate how precise we believe the estimate to be by constructing a confidence interval. For example, a 95% confidence interval for the true prevalence would be given by:

Estimated prevalence ± 1.96 x standard error of the estimate


1) We estimate that between 11-17% graduates from the Class of 2011 changed their jobs in the first 18 months after graduation. This range is more likely to be an underestimate than an overestimate, because people typically take a while to update their profiles after changing jobs, nobody does it in advance.

Still, we believe that it is not an exceptionally high number.  Possible reasons for this range of job switches are stated below (in no particular order) :

i) Happy with job, not interested in switching: Batch sizes of the graduating batch across schools were smaller in 2011. People had more choice. This led to better opportunities, and perhaps, satisfaction with profiles is higher and hence no real urge to switch. These days concepts like dream company are almost non-existent and people end up applying to jobs they don’t really want to do out of insecurity. Things were considerably better 2 years back. We can only verify this once we study data for the following years.

ii)Unhappy with job, Ready to switch, but job market does not permit: The job market is not booming. This is still a recruiters’ market. There aren’t enough opportunities around for people to be able to make a switch. The Class of 2011 was fortunate that they landed at least their first jobs in possibly the best year since the Class of 2008. All the other graduating batches have had some problem (2009,10,12 and 13).

iii)Unhappy with job, but averse to taking risks: Student Loans and the resultant EMI has ensured very few people can take risks. Switching jobs early in your career is always a risk. With a fixed obligation, it is very difficult.

2) We estimate that 65-70% job switches are by students placed from campus in the Consulting domain. This is followed by Finance and General Management. Marketing saw the minimum job switching.

Possible Reasons:

i) Consulting recruited heavily across campuses in 2011. Hence, the higher proportion of switches. But we believe, the figure is still very high. Consulting may not be the most satisfying job experience after all. The brand of the firm and the kind of work taken up matters. Money matters too. But there is a clear trend of most switches being from the consulting domain. Bulk hiring also means high attrtion 18 months later? Moreover, being in consulting doesn’t tie you down in terms of exit options, and it is relatively easier to jump functions and domains from consulting than any other area like marketing!

ii) Marketing companies have well-organized management trainee programmes that run for 18 months to two years at times. This time is spent learning the ropes, and trainees don’t really have complete information on what the job will really look like.  It is unlikely that people will quit these programmes mid-way and hunt for jobs, unless driven by non-professional compulsions, or the desire to start something new.

iii) There is almost no attrition in the front-end roles in Finance. Most of the finance switches are from mid-sized firms or middle office jobs in big companies. Not very tough to figure why. Front-end roles are high paying and any job switches are probably because a person was fired.  There is enough conclusive evidence on this.

3) SPJIMR graduates have switched the least among all the schools analyzed above. Very conclusive data on this.

Possible reasons :

i) 45 graduates in each function only. Quality opportunities are easier to find for such a small batch. Probability of satisfaction is higher. Also, SPJIMR has a very loyal core group of companies that recruits in most years.

ii) SPJIMR graduates decide their specialization even before they start their course. Mobility is always an issue for graduates who are branded in a particular domain right from day one.

Putting things in perspective (addendum by one of our editors).

Although the number of 11-17% is low, given the conditions of the job market, I do believe that there has been a fundamental change in the mindsets of our generation and  as compared to the previous one. An attrition rate of 17% would have been unimaginable even in the late nineties. Our parents grew up in an age of imposed scarcity which affected every aspect of their life – including career choices. We are decidedly less restrained in our career choices. A couple of factors have accelerated this change in mindsets over the last five years.

Firstly and counter-intuitively the economic crisis – which has actually made people realise that their careers and aspirations are far too important to be left to the discretion of large faceless corporations. If a blue chip company with an admirable reputation cannot even make good on its promise of hiring you, do you expect it to think twice before firing you? Two engineering students in my area graduated in June 2012 – each with an offer from from one of India’s top IT firms in their bag. The appointment letter never came – the company decided to go slow on its expansion plans. One graduate has flown to Dubai to seek his fortunes as an IT consultant, the other was fortunate enough to have a second offer from a foreign IT services player which allowed her to join in January 2013. The same fate also befell an MBA batch mate of mine who changed jobs 10 months into his campus job and managed to bag a highly coveted offer from a prestigious investment bank. The final offer never came and he fortunately found another equity research role with a different company. Others may not be so lucky. For many of us, the recession has destroyed the concept of job security. This change in our mindsets has created a readiness to shift jobs, but given the gloomy economic scenario, the job market may not always oblige. And it is the sluggish job market (and NOT an innate desire for job security – that concept no longer exists, and NOT active job satisfaction – that doesn’t really change across generations) that is responsible for suppressing the churn rate among graduates – once the economic tide turns, you can expect the churn rate to be higher.

Secondly, it is not all doom and gloom in India. Start-ups are thriving, in a broad swath of fields including e-commerce, education and retail. Spurred by the success of others, and cushioned by the safety net of our own degrees, many of us have taken the plunge. Start ups have themselves facilitated this by providing innovative compensation packages. This is amply clear from the proportion of job switchers who have joined start-upsit is 50%. People are dreaming big. Or at least befriending big dreamers.

– Created by Shyam Sunder, Sampada Kanade and Ankit Doshi


You may also like to read :

The InsideIIM Career Guide

The InsideIIM Recruiter Rankings 2012

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One comment


Interesting analysis, but overall switch number looks very low. Attrition rate typically in service industry is 30-35%. Considering Finance, Consulting and Sales&Marketing together constitute >80% of jobs in top b-schools, the attrition number should be close to 25%.