The QS TopMBA Jobs and Salary Trends Report 2010 shows that demand for ‘soft’ skills has drastically increased in importance for MBA recruiters worldwide.
The survey of over 5,000 MBA recruiters in 36 countries, shows that MBA recruiters already have very high expectations of rigorous finance, marketing and e-business or IT skills from business school graduates. MBA recruiters are now looking for another set of abilities to complement their businesses in today’s competitive economic climate.
The report shows that the big four soft skills demanded by MBAs recruiters are: Interpersonal skills, Communication skills, Strategic Thinking and Leadership.
This news is unsurprising, however, as TopMBA.com has noted the rise in soft skills for several years.
MBA programs globally have taken this demand on board and many top business schools are attempting what can be a tricky balancing act, shoring up MBAs soft skills while, simultaneously, trying to firm up the traditional knowledge that MBAs will need.
After all, a great communicator with little idea of financial models is going to severely limit their job opportunities when leaving business school.
Additionally, many MBA candidates, particularly in Asia, fail to appreciate the value of such learning, even seeing it as a waste of time. Especially when compared with more classroom hours with a noted finance professor, for example.
For those MBA candidates, the need to look at the Jobs and Salary Trends Report is greater than ever before. According to recruiters, too many business school graduates hit the job market lacking the demanded skills that go beyond the qualification.
Mitch O’Brien of Emissary Pharmaceuticals in Australia says, “MBAs represent an interesting pool of potential business leaders with broad business skills, however they often come with an arrogant expectation of career progression. I would like to see more emotional intelligence taught and realistic career counselling provided.”
Sean Hewitt, a careers advisor, highlights the following nine areas as a general guide for MBAs: “Keep a winning attitude; be a team player; communicate effectively; exude confidence; hone your creative skills; accept and learn from criticism; motivate yourself & lead others; multitask and prioritize your to-do list; see the big picture.”
Easier said than done perhaps? Wendy Lyons, Managing Consultant at London’s Human Assets, and an expert in the field, says: “For employers, getting the right people means identifying people with the right skills and qualities to fulfil the role and contribute to the organization’s success and it’s really important to be aware that different roles have different requirements.
"You might need to be an amazing communicator for one role but not necessarily for another so it’s important to recognize what is needed by the role in question.”
Whatever role the MBA graduate is aiming for, improving all areas of their leadership personality, including their soft skills, will greatly benefit their career progress, if the opinions of recruiters are important.
Many MBA candidates are unsure as to what soft skills are and how they can be developed.
The simplest solution is to work to your strengths, but work on your weaknesses even harder.
It’s clear that the MBA is a complex program, and takes up a lot of time, so doing this while poring over complex case studies may not be everyone’s idea of a good time, but it’s evidently worth it.
The following is a list of suggestions on how to adapt successfully to a role and to learn a better approach to communication, man-management and leadership: