Five Key Skills to Gain an Edge in MBA Recruiting

Five Key Skills to Gain an Edge in MBA Recruiting main image


The competition during MBA recruiting is fierce. High achieving graduates are always aiming for ways to stand out from the crowd. You can gain an edge in the job hunt by studying the QS TopMBA Jobs & Salary Report, which is based on QS’ reporting and data collection from employers. Discover the skills that will impress MBA recruiters:

Choose your industry with an eye on the future

Companies need executives who understand data analytics and machine learning. Do you have a leg up on artificial intelligence and how it will influence the future of work? Then, you’re just what many people who are hiring need. Modern businesses are quickly realizing the importance of managers, who understand technology, how to best implement it, and how it will affect the work of humans.

PwC recently reported that analytics-enabled jobs, such as CEO, chief data officer, director of IT, HR manager, manager of finance, and manager of marketing, would be in increasing demand. So far, few people are meeting the criteria of those hiring for these typical MBA positions because they lack the understanding of the technology and how to use it. Some fields have more of a need for these skills than others, so do your due diligence. Find a field in which these futuristic skills are needed to give yourself more staying power.

Specialize in meeting the needs of employers

Those hiring MBAs tell QS they need managers who closely studied leadership, strategy, and innovation in that order. In addition, entrepreneurship, information management, marketing, operations management, and finance round out the list of specializations that woo recruiters. Corporate social responsibility and international management, while important, do not rank as high as the other categories. What this tells us is go getters should zoom in on developing their ability to lead and help organizations stand out in a crowd.

Become a great communicator

Leaders of an organization must clearly express what they need their employees to accomplish. They have to describe the vision of the company for the short- and long-term, and leaders will also carry the organization’s branding message too. Employers tell QS that MBA hires are failing to meet their expectations when it comes to communicating well. As a result, students who develop their communication skills – both oral and written – will be the darlings of recruiters. So much emphasis is put on the quantitative skills that sometimes people forget they need to know how to send the right messages to all the various stakeholders. Don’t forget, and you may be rewarded.

Learn how to build relationships

The divide between employers’ expectations of MBA hires and their ability when it comes to interpersonal skills is jaw dropping. Employers rate the importance of interpersonal skills higher than 2.5 out of 3, but they say their satisfaction with MBAs’ demonstration of this skill is at a level of 2.0.

In other words, learn how to relate well to others. Granted, some people are naturally better at this skill than others, but there are ways you can train yourself to improve this skillset. For instance, when networking, you should stay in touch regularly rather than dropping a note when you need something from the other person. Also, you can work on the ways you provide feedback or delegate work to others. This is all related to communication, but it’s also about how you interact.

Another component of interpersonal skills, which is often overlooked, is empathy. To lead and guide an organization, you have to be able to put yourself in the shoes of another. You must care for your fellow man, whether he or she is an employee, consumer, or peer. Otherwise, how can you provide for their needs and continue to win business and achieve success?

Attain a global mindset

For many years, especially in the US, leaders were focused on their own geographical region. Today, there are virtually no borders when it comes to business, especially the kinds of businesses MBAs from top business schools typically run. As a result, organizations need people who can speak the language of their consumers, both literally and figuratively.

This global mindset requires MBAs to gain experience abroad and learn what it’s like to live and work in a different place. These experiences open the mind to different possibilities and come in handy even if you end up landing closer to home in the end. Those who are willing to go abroad for a position or take on projects in other lands are more likely to win over employers.

Ultimately, great communicators, who have demonstrated an ability to lead and have an understanding of the coming technological advancements, will do well in MBA recruiting. Being personable, empathetic, and smart are the best ways to stand out in an interview – and in life.

Francesca Di Meglio

Francesca Di Meglio has written about higher education for two decades. She covered business schools and all aspects of management education for what became Bloomberg Businessweek from May 2004 to December 2013. Di Meglio was the consultant editor for the book Admitted: An Interactive Workbook for Getting into a Top MBA Program (85 Broads Publishing, 2011), which was written by admissions consultant Betsy Massar. In addition, she is a family travel and parenting blogger at the Italian Mamma website

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