What Employers Want From MBAs This Year

A group of MBA graduates wearing caps and gowns.It’s no secret that today’s job market is increasingly competitive for college graduates. Not only do business school grads compete against one another, they also compete against other college graduates and experienced workers.

So what exactly do employers want from MBAs in this year’s graduates? The results may surprise you.

You might think technical skills or pure competence would be more important than anything else in employers want from MBAs, but a new survey of corporate recruiters shows that employers most value communication skills in freshly minted graduates, followed by teamwork, technical, leadership, and then managerial skills. Communication skills, in fact, are on average twice as important as managerial skills. With the exception of one industry–manufacturing–this finding was true across all world regions and employers, regardless of company size or industry.

The results are from the Graduate Management Admission Council’s 2014 annual corporate recruiters survey published today (May 18). Some 565 employers from 44 countries responded to the survey, including 36 companies in the Fortune 100. In the survey, employers were asked to assess the importance of the five overall skills. Employers also were asked for the first time to indicate the proficiency level for the specific skills in each category that they would require of a recent business school graduate being considered for a mid-level position in their companies.

For example, GMAC found that the top four skills in new hires that employers want from MBAs largely fall within the realm of communication. Oral communication and listening skills rank first and second, respectively, followed by written communication and presentation skills. The fifth most highly ranked skill sought in graduates was adaptability (see table below).

Skills Companies Demand In New MBAs & Other Graduate Business School Hires


A chart describing skills that employers want from MBAs

Source: 2014 GMAC Corporate Recruiters Survey

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.