Considering the popularity of the Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree in the U.S., grads may want to stand out in a crowd, and knowing what employers are looking for is key.

The degree costs anywhere from $55,000 to $120,000 for a two-year program, and sometimes more. After accumulating this kind of debt, MBA graduates may need to make sure they meet the necessary skill requirements to get a high-paying job.

Key Takeaways

  • Getting a job after graduating from an MBA program can be extremely competitive. Employers look for a certain set of skills when hiring new employees.
  • According to the Graduate Management Admission Council, the five most important skills that employers look for are interpersonal skills; communication skills; data analysis and interpretation skills; learning, motivation, and leadership skills, and strategy and innovation skills.
  • According to employers, these skills will also be important in the future, but other skills such as cross-cultural and multilingual skills will also be very important.

The 5 Most Important Skills Employers Look for in MBA Grads

The Graduate Management Admission Council runs a yearly survey, the Corporate Recruiters Survey, to gauge data and insights in order to understand the current trends in hiring, compensation, skill demand, and perceptions of MBA and business master’s graduates.

For its 2023 survey, it gleaned insight from 1,028 corporate recruiters and hiring managers from staffing firms across the globe.

The skills that employers say are currently the most important and that will be the most important in five years are as follows:

  • Interpersonal skills
  • Communication skills
  • Data analysis and interpretation skills
  • Learning, motivation, and leadership skills
  • Strategy and innovation skills

The majority of these skills are soft skills, such as communication, interpersonal, learning, and motivation. Survey respondents believe these are the most critical in a workplace and stress them over hard, technical skills, such as programming, managing tools and equipment, and product design.

Of current employers, 62% believe interpersonal skills are important for graduates to have, 59% say communication, and 56% say strategy and innovation. More than half said that data analysis and interpretation; learning, motivation, and leadership; decision-making processes, and general business functions are important. So as important as it is to understand your concentration, it is even more important to be able to communicate and interact positively in the workplace.

According to employers that stress the importance of technology, software, and programming as important skills, 74% believe AI and machine learning skills are important, 75% say cloud-based technology is important, and 80% say Web3, blockchain, and VR are important.

Skills of the Future

Employers believe that communication, data analysis, and strategy skills will be as important in the future as they are now; however, they believe that skills like technology, understanding human behavior, and media communications may not be as essential now, but they will be more important in the years to come.

One of the most important communication skills that employers stress will be important in the future is cross-cultural competence; 81% of employers said this would be important in the next five years. Furthermore, 77% stated that multilingualism will become important, and 75% stated active listening will be important.

This clearly shows that as the world becomes more globalized and interconnected and workplaces become more diverse, employees will have to be aware of different cultures and practices.

What Skills Should MBA Grads Have?

The skills that MBA grads should have include communication skills, interpersonal skills, data analysis skills, strategy skills, leadership skills, technical skills, and some programming skills.

What Do Most MBAs Do?

The jobs that most MBAs end up in include banking and finance, consulting, marketing, and manufacturing and technology. Common jobs include financial advisor, management analyst, investment banker, and business consultant.

Can You Earn 6 Figures With an MBA?

Yes, most likely you can earn six figures with an MBA. Nothing is guaranteed, but since many MBA graduates work in the fields of consulting and finance, they can make six figures as these industries are generally very high-paying.

The Bottom Line

The workplace is an ever-evolving arena and as the world changes, so will the skills required for MBA and business degree grads. While traditional skills such as interpersonal skills and communication will always be important, skills such as data analysis and strategy are also deemed essential for hiring managers. In the future, candidates will also need to have strong cross-cultural and multilingual skills to stand out amongst their peers.


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