You can be the brightest of MBA students, but that may mean nothing if you don’t have the communication skills to explain the quality of your work and get people excited. This is why soft skills are becoming increasingly important for MBA students to hone in on while in business school.
While hard, or technical, skills are very important in giving MBA students the appropriate knowledge to work in a finance, marketing, and e-business world, soft skills are on the rise. In 2010, MBA recruiters began focusing on soft skills more and more in their recruits. This shift has continued to change the focus of the curriculum in MBA programs to focus more on communications, presentations, and persuasion.
So moving into 2013, what soft skills will recruiters look for in an MBA graduate? Take a look at the top five soft skills you need to land a job next year:
1. Presentation Skills
The top skill that will get you by in 2013 is presentation skills. MBA graduates and alumni alike agree that the ability to effectively present a case and provide a viable solution in a professional, persuasive, and personal manner is the most important skill in the business world today. Because people are less likely to read long documents, presenting initiatives and business concepts is the next best thing. If you haven’t been paying attention in your speech course, it’s time to take notes!
2. Effective Communication Skills
Similar to the first point, effective communication skills will help you land that client, deal, or project. MBA graduates should refine their interpersonal and group communication skills to land a job in 2013. These skills show you’re personable and can work well with others. If you need to refine your communication skills, it’s time to start networking. Landing more networking meetings or conversations will help you refine those rusty communication skills and widen your professional network.
3. Ability To Read Your Audience
This skill may come with time and experience, but is important nonetheless in the business world. The ability to read your audience allows you to know when to move the conversation in a different direction, depending on nonverbal and verbal cues. If you’re bad with nonverbal cues and audience analysis, talk to some of your marketing professors in your MBA program to see what approaches they take in their business meetings to adjust the content or tone of a conversation.
4. Strategic Thinking
You might already have this skill from your MBA program curriculum, but make sure you show them off in a job interview. Strategic thinking skills speak to your ability to problem solve and think on your feet. If you have a hard time thinking outside of the box, reach out to a professor or mentor who you think is successful at demonstrating this skill. Invite them for coffee and gain some insight on their strategic thinking approach.
5. Leadership Skills
Leadership skills are essential in positive career growth in the business world. These skills show that you take initiative, take responsibility, and think in the long and short term. While this isn’t a skill that’s easily acquired, you can start by volunteering to be the team leader on your next group project. If you’re interning somewhere, volunteer to spearhead a new project, even if you’re not comfortable with the work. You’ll soon find yourself using that leadership thumb, which will help you down the road in your career.
Don’t forget that soft skills should complement the technical skills gained in your MBA program. They differentiate your personality from other job candidates and show growth in any given business. The soft skills needed at one business may vary from what’s needed elsewhere, so use your best judgement based on the role you’re applying for.
Do you have these soft skills listed on your resume? How do you plan on refining these soft skills this year?
(Photo: Courtesy of o5com, Flickr)