What Employers Are Looking For In MBA Grads

What Employers Are Looking For In MBA Grads

What is the most in-demand skill set for MBAs? It isn’t the ability to break down a financial or plot out a supply chain. No, MBA employers are focused on the ability to listen for and understand feelings, read and respond to body language, and communicate in ways that are both persuasive and purposeful.

In a word, employers are seeking soft skills from MBAs.

Financial Times recently released its top skills that employers want from MBA grads. Among those skills include the ability to work in a team, solve complex problems, and manage time wisely.

Soft Skills Are Crucial

“Soft skills” are the ability to work within a team and among a variety of people. And its highly in-demand.

Just last year, GMAC released its annual Corporate Recruiters Survey Report—an in-depth study on what recruiters look for in MBA grads. The most in-demand skill? Communication and teamwork.

Dr. John Mervyn-Smith, chief psychologist at The GC Index, tells Association of MBAs that collective teamwork is necessary for long-term success.

“The key to achieving long-term success is to transform individual action into collective power. In order to do this effectively, you need to not only understand how you can best contribute and make an impact but also how other team members make their impact – only then will you be able to place them in the right roles and right environments.”

Big Data Skills Are Hard To Come By

Many employers surveyed by FT reported big data analysis as “one of the rarest and most difficult skills to recruit” as well.

According to FT, 13% of companies surveyed even went so far to rate big data analysis skills as “impossible” when it comes to hiring.

With the huge demand in these types of data skills, schools are rushing to try and meet the growing interest from students. According to FT figures, 74% of big data courses in the US reported increased demand last year.

At the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton is going full steam ahead on data analytics.

“Our dean is pushing all the chips behind data analytics,” Eric Bradlow, faculty director and co-founder of Wharton’s Customer Analytics Initiative, tells P&Q. “We have chosen to make it one of our pillars. And our dean has not taken the shortest path to the dollar but one that is consistent with our brand in the long-term. We want to be on the Mount Rushmore with finance and entrepreneurship and marketing. We are not looking to kick off anyone from Mount Rushmore, but we think analytics is as important as any other business discipline today.”

Wharton, one of the few b-schools with an in-house statistics department, has already added 30 to 40 new courses in analytics. And roughly one-third of its faculty has “at least one foot planted in data analytics,” according to Bradlow.

Having The Right Skills Is Hard to Find

The FT report also highlights how recruiters are struggling to hire MBAs who have the right skills.

According to FT, just under half of the 72 employers surveyed say they struggled to hire MBA grads with both soft and hard skills. Compare that to only one-third of companies reporting the same last year.

In an interview with US News, Sjoerd Gehring, VP of talent acquisition and employee at Johnson & Johnson, says the best way to get hired as an MBA grad is to sell yourself from a 360-degree perspective.

Gehring recommends that MBA grads find a company they are truly interested in rather than applying to an endless number of companies.

“If you are really interested in a role at J&J, then surely you will take the time to make sure your passions and skills align well to us and the position,” Gehring tells US News. “By playing the quantity game you’re not conveying that ‘This is the company I really want to work for.’”

Sources: Financial Times, GMAC, Association of MBAs, Financial Times, Poets & Quants, US News

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