“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door” – Milton Berle
Tempting enough, right? But can you really follow this philosophy? With the job market continually changing, it can be hard to know just what you need to begin a genuinely fulfilling and lucrative career.
To build the proverbial door for yourself, you need to know where to start. A BA in Business or a Master of Business Administration (MBA) is the logical first step for anyone contemplating a career in business.
This is not without a reason as the salary potential for graduates holding an MBA degree speaks for itself. It is a degree worth investing the time and effort – not to mention tuition costs – so getting a degree in business should be your starting point!
If you are wondering what’s next: How do I distinguish myself from other business graduates?
The key is in being the type of employee that companies want to hire, retain, and promote. To do this, you need to have a list of skills in order to stand out from the competition.
Prospective employers have a preferred set of skills needed for business graduates that they look for when hiring. Known as “soft skills,” they include critical thinking, problem-solving, and technical capabilities.
All of these, paired with effective communication, make for skills to list on a resume if you want it to be worthy of attention.
Here are five of the most popular soft skills for business graduates that employers seek :
1. Strategic Thinking Skills
Are you described as having a strategic mindset? Well, it is your time to shine. Critical thinking and forward planning are the keys to carve your way up from entry-level positions. Employers look for business graduates who are capable of seeing the bigger picture. So it is vital that you focus on the present tasks but effectively plan for the future.
Be ready to make instant decisions! To minimize the stress, prepare for possible issues that could arise. Lastly, weigh down the pros and cons of your actions. Then, make an informed decision.
According to a study published in Harvard Business Review, a large number of senior executives chose strategic skills as the key to organizational success in 97% of the cases. Although it is a difficult skill set to acquire, it isn’t impossible. A good strategic leader takes a broad, long-range approach to solving a problem. They make decisions based on objective analysis, and they excel at thinking ahead. To utilize your strategic thinking skills, you have to think in multiple time frames and be able to identify what your goals are over time. It also means thinking systemically and understanding the impact of your decisions on various segments of the organization — including internal departments, personnel, suppliers, and customers.
2. Problem Solving Skills
Problem-solving ranks high on the list of professional skills employers look for. Why is this important, you wonder? When you step into the business world, your academic achievements may be of little value if you do not perform well in the field. You will have to spot and solve problems daily.
For this, you will need remarkable attention to detail and staying calm under extreme pressure. Often, you might be on your own when the problems arise.
Even if it sounds daunting, it is a skill you can master with some practice. It often consists of a set of steps you should take, such as recognizing difficulties or obstacles, devising possible solutions, implement them, and finally follow up to make sure the situation resolves successfully. With some creative thinking and preparation, there is no problem you cannot solve!
3. Market Awareness
As the name suggests, this is the knowledge and information that you need about the industry. This business skill is in massive demand among employers. And sadly, this is one thing that business graduates lack.
An understanding of the marketplace goes beyond what you’ve learned in college! Thankfully, getting acquainted with the market has become quite easy. There are several ways to stay aware of the changes in the market. These include:
- Participation in industry forums on social media
- Subscribe for market newsletters
- Sign up for trade publications
- Take part in industry conferences
- Set up notifications to receive news about competitors
- Listen to business podcasts
A thorough market awareness will allow you to make snap decisions when you face a business-related problem. Combined with previously mentioned soft skills, you can plan ahead your actions in a broader context. Employers are aware of how valuable this skill is, and as such, it is sought out for in business graduates.
4. Organization and Planning
As an employee, you will be juggling multiple responsibilities. You need to manage your workload and report regularly to your manager. If you are in a leadership position, you must know how to oversee work, attend training sessions, conduct appraisal, and promote company culture.
For both scenarios, you must learn how to maximize your work productivity. It is one of the most critical soft skills needed for business graduates hoping to climb the success ladder.
Sloppy work practices and lack of planning will jeopardize your position in a company. But don’t worry! All you need to do is to manage your time more effectively. As Julie Morgenstern, author of Time Management from the Inside Out, says, “Managers want to see if you get good work, and a lot of it, done.” Communicate with your manager and focus on gaining control over your time. This will help you filter out the useless tasks and focus on the valuable ones.
5. Effective Communication
Brian F. Barton, Chair of the Undergraduate Business Program at Capella University, recommends that business graduates focus on their communication skills. The ever-growing importance of business communication skills for business graduates has led many schools to alter their curriculum to fit the demand.
For instance, the PMBA (Professional Master of Business Administration) Program by The University of Tampa is working on teaching students the sought-after communication skills. Through peer connections and real-world applications, students can quickly sharpen their interpersonal skills.
Whether you are a team manager or a member, you must know how to foster trust in the workplace. Simple gestures like attentive listening, recognizing achievements, active participation, and being on friendly terms with your coworkers can bring immense rewards. Employers believe that a positive workplace creates happier employees, and they are always looking for someone who can communicate clearly and fit in the working environment.
While the skills you learn when earning your business degree will help you prepare for a broad spectrum of possibilities in your business career, the learning does not stop there. You must always stay in the loop if you want to succeed in your career. Constant exposure to the market and an understanding of the changing trends will help you to adapt instantly.
Don’t worry, if there are roadblocks, these are normal. Even if you feel discouraged, do not give up! Keep working hard, polish your business skills, and you will build a door for yourself.
About the Author:
Alma Causey is a University of Tampa alumni and a passionate writer. To date, she has written various writing pieces related to business, HR, education, Technology, and Health. She is also very fond of traveling, reading, going to the movies, enjoying family gatherings, and horseback riding.