Wharton | Mr. Microsoft Consultant
GMAT N/A, GPA 2.31
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Poet At Heart
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
Yale | Ms. Impact Investing
GRE 323, GPA 3.8
Cornell Johnson | Ms. Food Waste Warrior
GMAT Not written yet (around 680), GPA 3.27
Stanford GSB | Ms. Future Tech Exec
GMAT 750, GPA 3.4
Georgetown McDonough | Ms. Air Force
GMAT 610, GPA 3.8
Stanford GSB | Mr. Sustainable Business
GRE 331, GPA 3.86
Harvard | Mr. Healthcare Fanatic
GMAT 770, GPA 3.46
Kellogg | Mr. Finance To Education
GMAT 730, GPA 3.4
Rice Jones | Mr. Back To School
GRE 315, GPA 3.0
Columbia | Mr. Aussie Military Man
GMAT 710, GPA 3.0 (rough conversion from Weighted Average Mark)
Harvard | Mr. Hopeful Philanthropist
GMAT 710, GPA 3.74
Stanford GSB | Mr. FinTech
GMAT Not Taken Yet, GPA 3.5
UCLA Anderson | Mr. Analytics Man
GMAT 740, GPA 3.1
Cornell Johnson | Mr. FinTech Startup
GMAT 570, GPA 3.4
Harvard | Mr. MacGruber
GRE 313, GPA 3.7
Darden | Ms. Teaching-To-Tech
GRE 326, GPA 3.47
Yale | Mr. Ukrainian Biz Man
GRE 310, GPA 4.75 out of 5
Chicago Booth | Mr. Future Angel Investor
GMAT 620, GPA 3.1
Wharton | Ms. Software Engineer
GMAT 760, GPA 3.84
Harvard | Mr. PE Strategist
GRE 326, GPA 3.6
Harvard | Mr. FBI To MBB
GMAT 710, GPA 3.85
Harvard | Mr. MBB Consultant
GMAT 730, GPA 3.9
Chicago Booth | Mr. Cal Poly
GRE 317, GPA 3.2
Darden | Ms. Business Reporter
GMAT 2150, GPA 3.6
Darden | Mr. Former Scientist
GMAT 680, GPA 3.65
Harvard | Ms. IB Deferred
GMAT 730, GPA 3.73

What Employers Want From Their MBAs

When corporate recruiters interview MBA students, what exactly are they looking for? And what do they ultimately expect when they hire an MBA?

From a list of desired traits, knowledge, skills and abilities, you’d think they were looking for Superman and Wonder Woman, according to a new study of employer expectations released yesterday (May 10) by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC). The report is based on the opinions of 1,509 corporate recruiters who hire MBAs at 905 companies in 51 countries. Each survey respondent was asked to check off the five most desired traits or skills he or she wants to see in an MBA.

The top five traits employers are seeking in 2011 MBA hires are initiative, professionalism, motivation, integrity, and the ability to deal effectively with pressure and unexpected obstacles. The top five skills and abilities? Communication skills, strategic skills, the proven ability to perform, core business knowledge, and the ability to manage change.

And when it comes to work experience, the largest single number of recruiters, slightly more than four in every ten companies, want their new MBA hires to have between three to four years of experience on their resumes.

Yet, it was an MBA’s ability to communicate with others–something that most B-schools have been working hard at for more than a decade–that trumped every other sought after trait or skill. Some 86% of employers who responded to GMAC’s survey said strong comunication skills are the single most important ability they seek in an MBA. “Communication skills has definitely gone up in importance,” says Michelle Sparkman Renz, director of research communications for GMAC. “Core business knowledge is always high but some of these other traits appear to be increasingly desired by recruiters.”

And what do students want? Adds Renz: “It’s always been that students wanted challenging and interesting work. Today, grads want room for growth. They want advancement opportunities. They want that proving ground or test turf for their business knowledge. For the first time ever, that is above challenging work.” The survey of MBA employers found that three-quarters of them seek initiative (77%), professionalism (77%), motivation (76%), integrity (76%), ability to deal effectively with pressure (75%), and an achievement goal orientation (74%) in their new MBA hires.

Desired Traits Employers Seek in New 2011 MBA Hires

Desired Trait in 2011 MBA HIresPercentage
Initiative77%
Professionalism77%
Motivation76%
Integrity76%
Ability to deal effectively with pressure/obstacles75%
Achievement/goal orientation74%
Innovation/creativity68%
Adaptability68%
Collaboration65%
Efficiency49%
Listening ability48%
Discipline45%
Persuasiveness39%
Cross-cultural sensitivity39%
Diplomacy/tact33%
Capacity and willingness to follow a leader30%
Empathy25%
Delegation skills21%

Source: GMAC 2011 Corporate Recruiters Report

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.