How MBA Graduates Can Get Hired
There has never been a better time to get your MBA.
According to a survey carried out by GMAC involving 1,066 employers in 42 countries, it was discovered that a whopping 81% plan to hire MBA graduates in 2018. In tech alone, Amazon plans on hiring 1,000 MBA graduates per year. According to the same GMAC report, US companies will offer a median starting base salary of $105,000 to MBA graduates in 2018.
This all sounds awesome until you also discover that there are about 16 million Masters degree holders in the US, which is 8% of the entire population.
Of these, MBA accounts for a quarter of the figure at 25.4%, making it the most popular postgraduate degree in the US. Not just that, an article on Vox predicted that other popular academic fields like education, would in the next four decades "...lose ground to professional degrees. And slowly but surely, MBAs would take over the world."
No doubt, you are up against a formidable legion of other qualified job prospects out there. You need a cutting edge.
These are some of the "soft" skills you need to be equipped with right now, and how best to position yourself to be set apart from the crowd.
1. Develop your Team Building Skill.
Up until now, you have done pretty much okay by yourself. Your success in school was in fact built upon your individuality and the ability to think for yourself as a person.
Yes, you studied with friends and did group projects and assignments together with some of your mates in class, but on examination days, you appeared alone.
And this has served you well so far.
However, to be a valuable asset to any company, you need to outgrow your individuality and develop a team spirit.
Employers cherish individuals who can hit the ground running with a team of diverse opinions; they need someone who is capable of working along with others without friction and ego-play.
In short, can you be a team player?
Good news if you can, because 74% of employers surveyed by Financial Times in a recent study ranked this as the most important skill they are always on the lookout for in prospects.
Your MBA degree might have gotten you a chance to sit at the interview table, but your ability to prove that you possess this skill determines whether or not you get the job.
Kristina Liphardt is a campus recruiting executive for EY, a consulting firm. She told USNews:
"Maybe someone will sit back and be very quiet, and you will see others say to that person, "Hey, do you have any ideas you want to contribute?" Another candidate might suggest a way to solve the case, and a team member might say, "Oh no, that's a bad idea." In consulting you have to team well, so you need to demonstrate these skills to get hired."
Workplace borders are fast-disappearing today. It is not uncommon to have people of different background and origin come together to form a team. Some even remotely from another country. Your ability to adapt, empathize well and form a closely-knitted unit within the team makes you an invaluable asset to any company.
2. Can you add value?
A finely manicured and impressive looking resume is not enough to get the job of your dreams. Think about it, companies are also looking for employees of their dreams. You need to show you are that person.
Work to create an impression that you genuinely care about the company and demonstrate how you are going to be of value.
It means doing your homework.
What can you find out about the most recent activities of the company and their overall direction? Have they had a recent M&A? What do you think about their marketing strategy? Do you have an opinion about it? These show you are not just interested in your paycheck and the promotion timeline.
Ensure the hiring team leaves with the feeling that you are coming in as an asset and not just another freshly-minted MBA looking for vacations in the Bahamas.
3. Can you think strategically?
Bloomberg carried out a study similar to the one done by the Financial Times above. It involved 1,320 MBA recruiters and 600 companies (of which 23 are S&P 500 companies).
What did they find?
That the most desired trait is the ability to think strategically.
The problem? This is also the least commonly seen among MBA job candidates.
Good news if you had your MBA at Limestone College, as you have already been ingrained with this skill set.
Your job would be to turn it into your own advantage.
Do you have what it takes to convince the hiring committee that you are a strategic thinker?
Can you undertake a thorough strategic diagnosis?
Can you analyze capabilities, strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities, and identify capability and resource gaps in your own business context?
If you can demonstrate these, in today's business clime, you are already far ahead of the competition.
4. Leadership Skills
Companies are looking for MBA students who can come into the fold and lead. Do you know how to set clear goals and objectives while effectively managing a team? Can you handle conflict resolution? To put it more bluntly, Merlin Hanbury-Tenison of mbaworld.com believes, "Leadership is the most important skill that you will learn with your MBA." He is not alone. Ranking third as the most sought-after skill in the Bloomberg report cited earlier is "leadership skills".
5. Communications Skills
It is great to be a valuable team player with strategic thinking capabilities. However, if you don't know how to give expression to your ideas and thinking process, you will be limited. If you think about it, this cuts across all the aforementioned skills. Think of it as the glue that binds other skills your employers are looking for in their prospects.
How can you be an effective team member if you cannot communicate with your team members and carry them along? How can you be an asset to an organization if you cannot articulate your thoughts and communicate with them effectively?
The job market for MBA students is huge and it will keep growing. But if you can master the 5 skills highlighted above, you would have given yourself more than an edge.